MP for North Windward, Montgomery Daniel has outlined a path to a fourth consecutive term in office, saying that the communities where the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) is strong will be neutralised by the stronghold of the Unity Labour Party (ULP).
“Comrades, North Windward say Labour, North Windward say four inna row,” the Housing Minister told a ULP rally in Sandy Bay on the weekend as Vincentian prepare to vote in general elections, widely expected by mid-December.
Daniel will face his challengers, Lauron “Sharer” Baptiste, as first time candidate, of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP).
He said it was his constituents that coined the mantra “4 inna row”, which has become a main campaign slogan as the ULP as it seeks an unprecedented fourth consecutive term for a Labour government.
The constituency has been very solid for Labour, Daniel said.
“You have elected me in 2001, 2005 and 2010. And no doubt, when the election is called again, North Windward will say Labour,” Daniel said.
“Starting in Fancy, Fancy is going to take care of itself. Owia, it is the NDP strongest area in this consistency and we are making inroads into Owia. But if by chance that we do not make it in Owia, Sion Hill will take care of Owia.
“And when you come to Sandy Bay, Back Street, Middle Street, Front Street, will take care of Sandy Bay. And I tell you, when we reach to London, Sharer will be singing ‘In the sweet, by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore’,” Daniel said.
“Comrades, because London is powerful. Orange Hill will take care of Overland, Caratal and Spring Village will take care of Dickson. And Langley Park, you have no competition. So, yo’ gone straight. Yo’ gone straight,” Daniel said.
Daniel spoke of his training in agriculture, which he received in several places, including in Japan.
He spoke in what what he said was Japanese, saying he did so because his contender and the NDP have said he didn’t know anything
“Tell him I can go in the middle of Tokyo in the middle of the night and I can find my way around. But if you are to put him even in Bridgetown, there is a statue in the middle of Bridgetown, he may not be able to find that statue in the middle of Bridgetown,” Daniel said.
He said that as a Ministry of Agriculture employee he applied for a scholarship in 1984 and 1985 under the NDP administration.
He was accepted to a university in Canada in 2006, but didn’t have the EC$63,000 to fund the programme, Daniel said.
“And I know if I was around when the education revolution was around, I may not have been here with you here tonight. And I see right in front of me beneficiaries of the education revolution,” he said.
Daniel told party supporters that in 1989 he realised he was not going to get a scholarship and the people asked him to contest the election on a Labour ticket.
But the NDP won all of the seats in 1989.
Daniel said he reapplied for his job in the Ministry of Agriculture and is still waiting.
However, in 1991, he was working with the banana growers association as an extension officer, a fruit quality specialist and a certification officer.
“I have worked in the government service, I have worked in the private sector, and so I can say to you, I am fully equipped.”
Daniel said constituents have not regretted electing him, because he has delivered.
“I don’t need to go through and to tell you what I have done for this constituency,” he said.
The former Minister of Agriculture, who critics say was removed from that post because of his mismanagement of the black sigatoka disease, said:
… if it was not for my persistence and my endurance, the arrowroot industry would have been a thing of the past in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
He spoke of the cassava factory in Orange Hill, and the Fisheries Complex in Owia.
In 2013, just three years after the fisheries complex was opened, the government admitted that it is unable to manage it properly.
The facility has not been operating for years and has fallen into disrepair and the government has decided to lease it, along with some others across the country, to private sector investors.
“There is the Rabacca Ridge. I have done over five bridges in this constituency– rebuilt them completely,” Daniel said.
“Comrades, I have built a secondary school and a primary school. There is the learning resource centre, there is Garifuna Radio, there is the education revolution, there is the housing revolution.”
He said many persons have benefitted from materials to repair their houses, and, in some cases, roofs were completely repaired, and new houses were built.
“Comrades, this constituency [has] benefited tremendously from this Labour Party administration. What a government!”
Daniel said he has assisted all and sundry, whether they supported him or not.
“Many who got materials, some of them sold them; some of them, they did not even said thanks,” Daniel said.
“Comrades, I have tried my best. I have tried my best in bringing good and proper representation to the people of this constituency.
“The tragedy that took place in Fancy, you wouldn’t ask for more,” he said in reference to the government’s response to the Rock Gutter bus tragedy on Jan. 12, which claimed the lives of seven students.
“This government responded. But there is a gentleman who stood on a platform who got some money for the people in Fancy. He said he will give it to the people in September. Well, today is the end of October…. Has he forgotten?” Daniel said.
He said constituents have to be careful about who they are putting to represent them. Is this the kind of people you want to be representing you?”
He further said that at age 29, he bought seven acres of land and ten years later, he completed a house.
Daniel said he believes he is one of the few politicians living on seven acres of land and who bought those lands and built a house before entering politics.
“So when the NDP says I have not achieved anything, tell them! Tell them! Tell them!
“Comrades, I have worked hard for this constituency and I have worked harder even for my own self and for my family.
“In all my years of representing you, I never gave up farming. Today, I am one of the largest arrowroot farmers. I started to plant bananas in 1984. Today, 2015, I am still planting bananas. So, today, when the opposition tell you they want to bring back bananas, it’s because they went out of bananas and they want to come back,” he said.
“And they know why they want to comeback, because when the industry had money, that is when they had bananas. But I tell you, I am a millionaire. Let me tell you why,” he said, as he began singing the gospel song “My father is a millionaire, I’m stepping on gold.”