KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Sen. David Browne, who failed in his bid to retain South Leeward for the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) in 2010, has criticised area representative Nigel “Nature” Stevenson for launching his office last Saturday, when the constituency hosted its beauty pageant.
Browne on Monday also said that Stephenson — of the New Democratic Party (NDP) — failed in his address at the event at Campden Park to tell constituents what are his plans and programmes for the district.
He further responded to comments by former area representative, Jeremiah Scott, also of the NDP, about a “subtle evil” in the constituency.
“The NDP … opened their office in South Leeward finally and I respected the move but I think the timing was inappropriate. I think the timing was a little disrespectful seeing it was a carnival planned event,” Browne said on radio in reference to the beauty pageant.
Browne, whose business sponsored one of the contestants, said that he listened to the speeches by Stephenson, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace and NDP chair Linton Lewis at the opening of the NDP’s South Leeward office.
“And there are some things I feel bad about,” he said, as he rebutted NDP claims that carnival organisers in South Leeward moved the beauty pageants to Saturday in an effort to affect attendance at the public meeting held to mark the opening of the office.
Browne said the pageant was being planned since January and said he did not know if Eustace was “talking from facts or what he received from someone.
“But the information that he was giving the general public was totally distorted and wrong,” said Browne, who added that his own party decided that is South Leeward conference will be held after carnival in the area.
“That is something that is clear; it is established. We must not find ourselves get in the part of any carnival events as a political party,” said Browne, who is Deputy-Speaker of the House of Assembly.
He further said that Scott is upset because of the progress that the ULP is making in Campden Park.
Scott, in his address, noted that before he was voted out of office in 2001, the ULP received 120 votes in Campden Park but that figure has since risen to 400.
Campden Park will never get anything from the ULP government. You know why? Ralph has sworn that he will teach you all a lesson in here. And he means it,” Scott said in reference to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
He further said that roads in the community were in disrepair, the roof of the community centre was not repaired six years after it collapsed and unemployed youth were turning to cultivation of marijuana — an illegal activity.
“Remember that in Nature you have somebody who will take and articulate your problem. He has done it already. He ain’t go to power yet but give him that power and you will see the difference,” he said of his protégé, who was elected in 2010.
But Browne said a potential area representative “must have an agenda”, adding, “… I am not seeing that from the representative up to now.
“… I listened to his speech Saturday night and I ain’t hear one plan for the constituency up to now,” Browne further said of Stephenson, who defeated him 2010 when he replaced former area representative Dr. Douglas Slater as the ULP’s candidate.
“He said he is opening his office and he is going to do things for people. That’s it. There is no programme, there is no process of getting things done,” Browne further said.
“He (Stephenson) said that the ULP parliamentarians are living life large. And I say it again, I am a senator, I make a senator’s salary. I get a stipend as the Deputy Speaker of EC$240 but I am also a hard working persons,” Browne said.
He said that while Stephenson makes twice as much money, the elected official does very little in the constituency.
“And then they (NDP) go on a mic and say they living large. I don’t know who he getting at but I want to believe is the 15 (ULP) candidates. … But I had it before politics and I will continue to have it because God will always bless me and I will always work hard,” Browne further stated.
He said that “the writing is on the wall” that he will replace Stephenson as the South Leeward representative after the next general election, constitutionally due in 2015.
“I feel like a king in Campden Park, honestly. I listen to the way they (NDP) speak and the way they put forward things and it clearly saying ‘Look, we know David is gonna win this thing. If he had a little more time (in 2010), he would have captured this entire thing. Oh my God, let’s do something to get rid of him. Let’s do something to get rid of Labour because he is definitely going to win this thing and it’s like a runaway train…’
“But that is what Labour is about,” Browne said.
“People are realising what is happening. You have two persons on the ground, one is working extremely hard, one is not working at all. One is receiving pay and open [an office] 16, 17 months later and collecting – what he do with the EC$1,500 for the past months? I don’t get pay for an office but I have one since election,” Browne further said.
He said that “a lot of projects” were done in South Leeward that did not need Cabinet approval and which were not financed by the Treasury.
“And when you (Scott) go about making those statements, you want people to belief as if … they (ULP) are getting things done because they are in government and that’s why we (NDP) can’t get anything done.
“… the former representative [is] a brilliant man, and [ULP General-Secretary, Sen.] Julian [Francis] did say that … he was the best representative that South Leeward ever had. But David Browne will change that in a period of time. …
“… The people need representation; the people need someone who is going to do the work for them and work very hard on their development.”
Browne said that during the 17 years of the NDP administration, all the scholarships in Campden Park “went into one household”.
“Now, I have about four or five persons from my Youth Arm going off to study all over the world. And outside of my Youth Arm, there are NDP-supporting children who are going off to Venezuela soon and Cuba soon. So, we have changed things around in South Leeward,” he said.
“I heard him (Scott) hinting a little that there is a subtle evil that is developing and … I wish he could come clear on this because if you are political, you are political. I wonder if he is saying, hear what happened, David Browne, a nice, wonderful young man but he is the subtle evil that exist in South Leeward so you must get rid of that subtle evil …” Browne said.