When the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) meets this week for what is expected to be a final determination on its candidate for South Leeward in the next general elections, it might be in for a repeat of a 2010 situation, where party supporters rejected former deputy prime minister Sir Louis Straker as a candidate there.
Some members of the party’s South Leeward constituency council are opposed to Sen. Jomo Thomas being the ULP’s candidate in that district for the next general elections, constitutionally due in December 2015.
They favour Grenville Williams, who, according to party insiders, was the least favoured among the three names the party polled in a recent survey.
Former senator, David Browne, who represented the party in the 2010 general elections, is said to have been the most favoured candidate, with Thomas second, and Williams third.
The ULP opted for a poll out of fear that a run-off could be too fractious.
Browne has said that he is no longer interested in running, and while the ULP’s constitution does not explicitly provide for a poll to be used to determine candidates, Thomas and Williams have agreed to abide by the outcome of the poll.
Information reaching I-Witness News suggests that that the ULP believes that Thomas holds the party’s best chance of winning South Leeward.
A primary, however, is unlikely to return him as the candidate, since the South Leeward constituency council is said to be made up totally of Williams’ supporters.
But while the ULP seems to be avoiding a primary, Edgar Cruickshank, a member of the ULP South Leeward constituency council, in a recent interview with I-Witness News, asked if the party is afraid that runoffs will cause fractures, why are they being held in other constituencies.
“Why they still having it in other districts?” said Cruickshank, who favours Williams as the ULP’s star in South Leeward.
He told I-Witness News that if the ULP is avoiding primaries out of fear that they will be fractious, then the party will also have problems in Mesopotamia also.
MP for Mesopotamia, Deputy Prime Minister Girlyn Miguel, who has represented the constituency since 1998, has indicated that she is not interested in running again, ULP leader, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has said.
Gonsalves has also indicated that the names of three persons — St. Clair Jimmy Prince, Godson Cain, and Kirk Da Silva — have been mentioned as potential candidates in Marriaqua.
“He wants a runoff in Central Leeward too. Let the PM go ahead. If he wants to hand over government to NDP, let him go ahead. Let him behave as if he is a dictator to the party,” Cruickshank told I-Witness News.
Cruickshank said that Central Leeward MP, Minister of National Reconciliation, Maxwell Charles, has performed poorly as an area representative and stands a big chance of losing to the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) Ben Exeter, a first time contender.
Cruickshank made it clear that as in 2010, the ULP’s South Leeward constituency council will reject the imposition of a candidate on constituents.
He said that back then, the ULP wanted to run then Central Leeward representative Sir Louis in South Leeward.
“We had a meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in 2010 — the [South Leeward] executive [and] some front-liners — because he wanted Louis Straker to run in South Leeward.
“And is we who beat out Straker from yah (here). We had a meeting from 5 p.m. You know what time the meeting finished the next morning? Six a.m. the next day — right through the night to convince we that me must support Straker in South Leeward,” Cruickshank told I-Witness News.
“And I got up, I said, ‘Mr. PM, why Straker leave Central Leeward and want to come up here?’” Cruickshank further told I-Witness News.
Cruickshank further said he was once part of a meeting with the Prime Minister, in which the Prime Minister said Browne was stiff-necked.
“I said, ‘PM, if David neck stiff, he take after you. But what I am telling you, the people in South Leeward like David. And if you think they like you more than David, you must come down and run.
“He said, ‘If I come down and run you won’t support me?’ I said, ‘No, because I will ask you why you left North Central and come here.’ Why Jomo left West [Kingstown] and come here?” Cruickshank further said of Thomas, who lives in West Kingstown, close to the South Leeward border.
The ULP removed its three senators – including Browne — from parliament last year.
Thomas was one of the new senator appointed for the ULP.