Saying that he can hardly recognize the United Workers Party and its founding principles, former leader and long-serving member Stephenson King, Thursday parted ways with the party after 40 years as a member.
King’s announcement stunned many coming just days away from general elections, which will see Saint Lucians going to the polls to elect a new government.
He cited irrefutable differences with the party’s hierarchy in a nationwide televised address Thursday evening, disclosing he would contest the July, 26 polls as an independent candidate.
Several weeks prior to this latest pronouncement, reporters had been curious to find out why the Flambeau Flag (yellow) was not being flown at King’s constituency office, in La Clery. But the matter was brushed aside by the party as a mere delay in the candidate getting prepared for the upcoming political battle.
“There are very few occasions in public life that is more gratifying than when one is called to the service of one’s country,” declared King.
King, who is the current Member of Parliament for Castries North said over the years he has been privileged to serve the country as a parliamentary representative and as prime minister.
He added, “I have experienced first-hand what it is like to engage in policies that affect the lives of everyday people in a very meaningful way, as well as, what it means to represent one’s country at the highest levels on the regional and international stages.”
King said that throughout this time he remained conscious “that as a nation we have committed ourselves to democratic principles forged from a common heritage and that we have set ourselves upon a destiny, which by necessity must be for the greater good of this country.”
King noted that he has pursued his political career “under the mantle of the United Workers Party (UWP) since 1981, steadfast in the belief that the party founded and led by Sir John Compton represented a set of ideals which we all held as sacrosanct and which we believed would never betray the people and would into posterity always work first and foremost for the benefit of this nation.”
The Castries North MP said that despite the challenges and upheavals in the political arena, he remained steadfast in his pursuits and helped resuscitate the party’s fading light after the 1997 defeat and to lead the UWP administration, following the passing of Sir John, in 2010.
King attested to having given 35 years of unblemished public service to the country; as well as unreserved loyalty to the UWP for the past 40 years.
However, at this juncture, he declared: “I find myself unable to recognise the founding principles of my party in the government that I am supposedly part of.”
Noting that matters were far from cordial with some of his party colleagues, King , who has also held a number of ministerial portfolios in Cabinet, spoke about his repulsion for the blatant disrespect and callous contempt in which so many ordinary people have been held by ‘those who now hold political office’.
“In all good conscience, I cannot go to the people and ask them to endorse for another five years, what has just preceded us and to repose the leadership of this country in the same group of people in some mistaken belief that it will be alright in the morning,” King stated.
While describing himself as a team player who had to first try and do all in his power, before announcing his decision to run as an independent, King said, with all honesty and attempting to share his wisdom with his colleagues to pursue a different brand of politics, “I have reached the inevitable and painful conclusion that I can no longer be part of an organisation that I can hardly recognise.”
King cautioned: “Politics must be about the people and it must be for the people and country. When it fails to do so we lead ourselves down the dangerous, slippery slope towards the most egregious abuses of power.”