Stephenson King is having a roller coaster ride over his decision to quit the United Workers Party (UWP) and contest Monday’s general elections as an independent candidate as Saint Lucians both vilify and praise him for the move.
However this division among King supporters has not prevented some notable individuals from publicly endorsing his departure from the UWP, claiming that such a move was good for democracy but a rather brave thing to do, knowing that the backlash to follow would be intense and unforgiving.
Independent Senator Dr. Adrian Augier was one of those who took to television to express his support for King stating that the former UWP member deserves credit for recognizing that he was at a political and philosophical crossroad.
“I think he deserves credit for being brave enough to make this life-changing decision. Many of us would lack the courage to do that knowing the backlash to follow. We would have stuck with what we know, however bad that is, rather than take a leap of faith not knowing if there would be ground beneath our feet or wind beneath our wings,” Augier said.
According to Augier, party politics has overrun every facet of Saint Lucian life, dividing families, communities and organizations with its corrosive corrupting poison.
“People you expect to be brave, people you expect to be outspoken, honest and fair have surrendered their souls to the party they support and which supports them. Larger principles of good governance, good government, national development, social justice, fundamental freedoms have all been sacrificed on that altar,” he added.
Augier challenged Saint Lucians on where they stand in relation to the type of politics and governance in the country today.
“Where do we stand? When will we say enough is enough? Do we condemn him (King) because his action defies our expectations and causes us discomfort?” Augier asked, complimenting King for showing Saint Lucians that “we can break the stranglehold of the two-party system. Thank you sir for proving that there is still room for independent thinking, for other views, other voices, and other pathways to deepening our democracy.”
Rufus Bousquet, a former minister under Sir John Compton and UWP member also endorsed the move made by King stating that King broadened the options within Saint Lucia’s political space.
“I think that is a very healthy thing for our democracy and it will start taking people away from the idea I’m UWP or I’m Labour or whatever the case,” Bousquet said.
Dr. Claudius Preville, who once challenged Allen Chastanet for the leadership of the UWP, also endorsed King’s actions, noting that King is the only living example of what Flambeau used to be in this country.
“I endorse him because I know of the suffering he has gone through personally in the party in the last five years. I endorse Stephenson King because Stephenson King represents the only hope for Saint Lucia. The honourable Stephenson King has suffered and endured a lot of rebuke and embarrassment in this party and he suffered all this for your sake. You know why? Because you are his constituents. He was representing your interests and he went through all this ridicule at the hands of the UWP,” Preville said.
Endorsing King this week was former Interim Prime Minister Michael Pilgrim who described King as an astute, honest and hardworking individual.
“Sir John Compton left the country with a sound economic base and in the capable hands of a successor who was well-schooled in governance under his leadership. He chose someone who is not arrogant, conceited, haughty or revolting. Sir John wanted a successor who is sincere, genuine and humble, one who is not selfish and greedy; one who is not corrupt. He wanted to choose a person who would be accepted by the Saint Lucian public and who the people loved. This gentleman was no other than the Honourable Stephenson King,” Pilgrim said.
He admitted that he was very critical of King during his stint as Prime Minister because of “his immense tolerance of the behaviour of certain ministers who applied unjustified pressure on him at times. I advised him to relieve those ministers of their respective portfolios. My criticism of King then was for his benefit and that of the country.”
“I just do not understand how Stephenson King could live through those last five years suffering pain, humiliation and disrespect that was meted out to him by the leader of the government,” Pilgrim said.
He described King as one who is truly patriotic and said that King cares for his constituency and most of all, puts people first. Other individuals of standing in the community also backed King.