Having seen the margin of victory in East St. George fall from 2,000 to 140 votes, New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate, Sen. Linton Lewis, is confident that he will win in the upcoming general elections and avoid four loses in a row both personally and for his political party.
The ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) is hoping for “4 inna row” – a campaign slogan — as they seek a historic fourth consecutive term for a Labour government in general elections expected by year-end.
But Lewis is confident that constituents will reject at the polls the ULP’s “crown prince”, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sen. Camillo Gonsalves, son of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves.
“East St. George, who will you rather? A foreigner who does not know you or a local who knows you?” Lewis told party supporters at a rally in Fair Hall Thursday night.
“Who would you rather? A Camillo Gonsalves or a Linton Lewis?” he further said.
“I will not fail you. I have never failed you. I have always been there for you. I have always tried to create jobs for you. I have always found jobs for you. I have always stood by you no matter how thick or thin it is. I have always been there with you and I always will be there with you. We need your support.”
Lewis, who is also chair of the NDP, is making his third attempt to win a seat in the St. George constituencies, having lost once in West and twice in East St. George.
Sen. Gonsalves, a newcomer, who, like Lewis, is a lawyer, is looking to hold on to the seat, which the ULP had held since 1998.
In 1998, Lewis’ brother, lawyer Stanley “Stalky” John of the ULP, wrestled the seat from the NDP’s Louis Jones before John and the ULP parted ways, making way for Clayton Burgin, who has held the seat since, but has given way to the younger Gonsalves.
Lewis praised the efforts of the young members of his campaign team, whom, he said, have been going from house to house to ensure that all persons registered to vote in the district actually live there.
“And they are doing a wonderful job because they have found names on the list that ought not to be there,” he told party supporters.
“And once you have a free and fair election in East St. George, East St. George will come home for the New Democratic Party,” he said.
Lewis said that the ULP had given up on the seat in the December 2010 general elections.
“And we know why they succeeded but it is not going to happen again because if any more deed polls are registered in the Registry and anybody think they would come here to vote more than once, they make a sad mistake.
“We are going to be more vigilant and more diligent and those young persons would vote early and they would man those lists to make sure that only those who are entitled to vote and who are eligible to vote would vote at every polling station in East St. George.
“Win me by merit, not by cheating. Win me by substance, not by deceit, because we in the New Democratic Party are going to make sure that we bring home Arnhim Eustace as the next primer minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Lewis said.
‘Labour loves you to death’
He portrayed the constituency as having been neglected by the ULP, which came to office in March 2011.
Lewis, who was appointed a senator in 2011, said that the road to Fair Hall was in a terrible condition and was only fixed recently, after be asked about it in Parliament.
He said the ULP speaks of love but are not good Samaritans because do not help NDP supporters
“And we are saying that don’t be fooled by this story that Labour loves you. Labour loves you to death!” he said.
With elections around the corner, the government wanted to do something to impress constituents and started putting up columns at the playing field, Lewis said.
He said officials were told that the columns are in the wrong place and were making the football field smaller, but the Prime said all they are doing is criticise.
Lewis said the field was measured recently for a football competition and it was realised that it is now far smaller than it should be. “They (the players) couldn’t kick any corner there.
“… In their (government’s) attempt to show that they are doing something, they destroyed the Calliaqua Playing Field,” Lewis told party supporters.
Lewis said the attempt to improve the field will have no impact on the people of Calliaqua, adding that it was the NDP government that fenced the field and built the hard court nearby.
“So your window dressing makes no difference to the people of Calliaqua,” Lewis said, adding that he is certain that the same applies to South Wood, where the roads were paved under an NDP administration, which also brought electricity and pipe-borne water to the area.
Lewis said that he remembers that as a boy the roads in Choppins were terrible and there was only one standpipe, but no electricity.
He said that not until the NDP came to office that electricity came to the area, which has blossomed into and upscale community now called Harmony Hall.
“So I am saying to you that the New Democratic Party has laid its hands here in Fair Hall and the surrounding areas and the rest of East St. George.
“And what has the Unity Labour Party done? Fifteen years and they have done absolutely nothing to the infrastructure of East St. George.
“Tell me one thing they have done!”
He said that Diamond is a forgotten village under the ULP, the NDP having built the roads in that community.
He said the roads are now in disrepair, drains are “unseen” and rodents are following the people.
“That place is in a terrible condition and you would never believe that place is a part of East St. George. And the Unity Labour Party has done absolutely nothing whatsoever.”
‘how is be gonna care about you?’
He said that Sen. Gonsalves was invited to a graduation at Bridgton Primary School, but ended up in Diamond near to the river asking for directions.
“He wants to represent East St. George and he can’t find the Brighton Primary School. Can you imagine that?” Lewis said, adding that at Christmas time Sen. Gonsalves went to hand-out packages but did not know where he was going and called someone 25 times to find a house in Glen.
“He didn’t know where the people were he was going to take the packages to. So how is he going to represent you? He doesn’t know you, so how is be gonna care about you? He doesn’t know you, so how is he going to love you?”
Lewis said that residents of Diamond were bombarded with lumber, cement and galvanise last election but he only lost by 10 votes in that polling station.
“And this time, with all the lumber and galvanise, I will whip him going and coming in that polling station in Diamond.”
He said Glen is an NDP stronghold, and gives the party the most votes in the constituency.
Lewis said the ULP distributed lumber and galvanise in Glen, but immediately after, 15 young people wanted to meet with him to tell him not to worry because they know it is their money being spent and they have taken the material but will vote against the ULP.
“You can’t fool Glen. You are wasting your time. You can buy your stove, you can buy your fridge, you can buy your truckload of galvanise, cement, lumber, it is not going to have any effect on the people of East St. Gorge.”
Unemployment is extremely high among young people of East St. George, but in 2009, the Prime Minister said that because people didn’t get lumber and galvanise they voted against him in the Constitution referendum, Lewis said.
“So it is a grave insult. People [are] looking at it one way, but this is the way I look it: he is saying that you don’t have the brain to think for yourself and you must do exactly what he does. If you don’t do what he does, he will bribe you and make you do what he wants you to do.”
He said the government has bought lumber and cement and galvanise to distribute to people again, but a woman whose house was damaged by a storm and was living in rent with her children, died while waiting or assistance from the government and her children are now displaced.
“And I tell you, for that alone, the people in Glamorgan will remind you, the people in McCarthy will remind you, the people in Joseph Land will remind you and the people in the areas will remind you with that voting finger that you should not again get back into office in this country, because it’s total wickedness,” Lewis said.
He said that Jones has left his legacy, having built roads in the constituency, including in Enhams and South Wood.
“And I want somewhere to call my own, too, so I have adopted Diamond — my own, because that needs to be developed as well and the ULP has done nothing at all for those people,” Lewis said.
The ULP hold eight seats in the 15-member Parliament, while the NDP holds the remaining seven.