After almost a year, political neophyte Dr. Julian “Jules” Ferdinand is responding to some jabs thrown at him at the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) convention last December.
Ferdinand was last year selected to represent the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) in West St. George in the next general elections, constitutionally due in 2015.
He revealed on Saturday that he had turned down a request in 2010 to run for the ULP, which derided him at their annual convention last December.
Ferdinand further said he still has more blows to throw but is sticking to his plan of determining the arena in which the fight takes place.
On Saturday, at an NDP rally in that constituency, he made his first major political speech since emerging as the candidate last year.
“Some of you would be aware of the fact that when the Unity Labour Party had their convention earlier this year, they took a swipe at me,” he said.
“But let me tell you something that you need to know. When the executive of the Unity Labour Party threw out the statement that they did, and I was asked to respond, I refused to respond and I sent a message back to them to say that I will pick the arena and I will pick the weapon when we fight that fight,” Ferdinand said.
“So the arena is here and I am here to tell you something about that. Now, many of you or most of you will not know that on the 13th of April 2010, … I was invited to meet with the representative of the Unity Labour Party Central Kingstown group. They wanted me to run for them against St. Clair Leacock,” he said.
St. Clair Leacock, an NDP vice-president, wrested the seat from the ULP in 2010 during his second outing at the polls.
“Now, you tell me, when they met with me — and I could tell you the names and I could tell you all the good things they said about me, I could tell you the promises they made — and I turned them down.
“I told them I met with them on a matter of principle because I believe in face-to-face meetings. But all the good things they said about me, could it be that those who met with me did so without the approval of the executive of the Unity Labour Party?” Ferdinand said.
“Could they have done that? Would they have spoken all the nice things without having first cleared it with the executive? No!” Ferdinand said.
“Eight months before the elections, I was a good person. I was even told that I was the calibre that could be the deputy prime minister …
“So hear, if I was good enough for them to run in Central Kingstown, if I was good enough for them to perform the duties as deputy prime minister, if I was good enough for them in April, how come today they say that I don’t have what it takes to represent the people of West. St. George?
“I can tell you a lot more but we throw that out for them; chew on that. We will come back with the sequel down the road,” Ferdinand said.
Political leader of the ULP, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, told the party’s convention last year that he had some questions for Ferdinand.
The questions included his performance as chief executive officer of the Eastern Caribbean Group of Companies (ECGC) and his late entry into politics.
“All the years he say he ain’t getting involved in politics, he said he already reached that stage – he gone past that and you are at the autumnal years of your life, he coming now. He coming now to do what?” Gonsalves said.
Meanwhile, Ferdinand said on Saturday that he was “ pleased and … honoured to have somebody like [Opposition Leader] Arnhim Eustace as my leader that I can look up to.
“That I know that if I have the last $100 to invest for my grandchildren, I can give it to him and know he will invest it wisely, that I will know that this Arnhim Eustace will tell me the truth, that if he was going to build an international airport and he was going to down the road make our people put their hands in their pocket and take our millions of dollars, he would tell me so upfront…
“And so, I am pleased, I am honoured, it is a great privileged and pleasure to sit at his feet and be a follower of Arnhim Eustace,” he said.