MEMBERSHIP, like they say, does have its privileges. But it sometimes appears that even being the member of groups or organizations comes with a curse. Which explains why many organizations are catching their royal these days either attracting or retaining membership.
The recent case of Castries South-East MP Guy Joseph deriding Sarah Flood-Beaubrun for having the audacity to challenge the UWP Leader, Allen Chastanet, for that post at the party’s November 15 national convention serves as a prime example why people need to question the ostensible democracy that supposedly exists in organizations.
During one of the UWP’s public meetings recently, Joseph came out firing, chastising Flood-Beaubrun for not waiting her turn as it relates to seeking a post on the party’s executive. According to Joseph, Flood-Beaubrun needs to “join the line” and not be a parachutist jumping in last-minute to get in on the action.
Question: Who determines when one’s turn has come? Another question: Did Dr. Vaughan Lewis have to join the line when he replaced Sir John Compton as Prime Minister in 1996 after the latter decided to bow out of politics? Something tells me that the UWP is moving away from its inclusiveness and adopting the exclusive club method. I’m hoping I’m wrong on this.
That Flood-Beaubrun’s nine years of membership in the party does not qualify her to run for the leadership of the United Workers Party exposes the extent of the disunity that exists in the party. The same sentiments were expressed by party members when Dr. Claudius Preville challenged Chastanet for the leadership last year. Despite Dr. Preville being a party member for close to two decades, he was seen as a johnny-come-lately rather than the fresh blood the party keeps preaching it needs desperately.
I personally witnessed protesters chanting, “We want Chastanet, Sarah get out” about two weeks ago when the UWP staged a protest march against the government concerning its (mis)management of the economy. It began just as Flood-Beaubrun entered the march near the Vigie field, lasted for no more than two minutes, by which time I suppose some high-ranking party official might have told the protesters quietly that the march was not against Flood-Beaubrun.
Joseph’s outburst lacks a great deal of credence, especially since the party itself is also purging itself of long-serving members who refuse to tow the very line that Flood-Beaubrun has been asked to tow. Stephenson King and Richard Frederick found themselves removed from that very line because their line of thinking apparently crisscrossed with that of the rest of the flock.
Interestingly, Phillip J. Pierre’s reluctance to challenge Dr. Kenny Anthony for the leadership of the Saint Lucia Labour Party has drawn some strong comments from many people who think that “Pip” would have by now earned his stripes to do so. After all, while Pierre was carrying the Castries East seat for Labour long before Dr. Anthony jumped in last-minute in 1997 to become the party’s leader and a safe Vieux Fort South seat in that year’s general elections.
On many occasions, however, Pierre has said unequivocally that he has no qualms serving in the capacity he does. As good and qualified as many people say he is, Pierre seems satisfied with not becoming party leader let alone Prime Minister. But with rumours flying around that another staunch party supporter is being groomed to succeed Dr. Anthony as party leader, who’s to say that the “join the line” mentality would not creep into the Labour camp albeit tacitly?
Currently, there are way too many square pegs in round holes in this country. Even some elected officials’ dismal contributions in the House of Assembly make me question the electorate’s rationale for voting them in. However, I have no choice but to respect those voters who do join those long lines to elect their officials. What, I think, needs to happen, though, is that better quality candidates are selected for the process – fresh or old.
If you asked me, it seems a long shot at the moment that Flood-Beaubrun will triumph over Chastanet at the upcoming UWP convention. It’s not impossible but should she dare win, just imagine how her leadership would change that party for the worse as far as Joseph is concerned. I mean, he’s already signalled that he’s unwilling at this time to be governed by anyone else but Chastanet. Should Flood-Beaubrun win, one can well imagine the conundrum Joseph will find himself in: deciding whether to tow the line in the party’s interest or further divide the party he says is in a healing process.