Opposition politician, St. Clair Leacock, has at least one last political kick for those who he feels disrespected him.
This was the view of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, one of the two persons who made “important calls” to Leacock, after his failed bid to become president of the New Democratic Party (NDP) last month.
Speaking in parliament on Thursday, Gonsalves congratulate Leacock, who is Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown for offering himself for the leadership of the party.
“From his base of an impressive record of service, I understand his pain of having to not participate in the process, the election process, according to him, which was mismanaged,” Gonsalves said.
He was speaking in Parliament sometime after Leacock, who told lawmakers that his party mismanaged the process in November through which MP for the New Democratic Party and former NDP vice president, Godwin Friday replaced Arnhim Eustace as NPD and opposition leader, after 16 years.
“I was really moved, Mr. Speaker, because it was an unusual congratulation,” Gonsalves said.
“It is the most unusual that I have heard in my time here as a parliamentarian,” said Gonsalves, who noted that he is the longest-serving parliamentarian currently in the Vincentian parliament.
“But it touched me, his words, that he is enduring great suffering and humiliation and is pained and his great suffering and humiliation and pain are occasioned by those in an organisation to which he had given 35 years service. I must say I am very touched by this,” Gonsalves said.
“But, there is a larger question, Mr. Speaker, the large question is this: When persons serve for a long period of time, either in their going, or when they are gone, in their service or when they have completed their service, it is a fundamental matter that such a person be treated with respect.
“And the history of politics, not only in the Caribbean or elsewhere, has taught all of us that when someone has served faithfully and well for a long period of time, that in the continuing service and in the going, and if the person chooses to go, that that person must be treated with great respect. If not, there is always the likelihood that that person has at least — to put it bluntly — one political kick remaining, at least one for those who have accorded him great disrespect.
“I think I would not, in the context of what was said, be wrong, in making that observation from the whole sweep of history, comparatively and certainly in the region,” Gonsalves said.
The Prime Minister said he had also listened very carefully to Leacock’s “moving recollections of a recent sit-down” with his 94-year-old mother “and that as he sees it, for his service to his country, the door is open for him to make whatever choice he considers to be appropriate, necessary and desirable in the circumstance.”
Gonsalves said he knows that it would have been a difficult congratulatory message for Leacock to deliver within the confines of the rules of congratulations, adding, “but there it has been.
“I would never forget today. It is as public an expression of anguish, pain and humiliation that I have ever heard in this Parliament as directed to those whom he has served faithfully and well for 35 years. I think this is a special day for several reasons.”
Speaking earlier, Sen. Shirlan “Zita” Barnwell, said that she wanted to extend on behalf of the opposition senators “warmest congratulations” to Friday on being duly elected as the Leader of the Opposition and President of the NDP.
“We want to wish him the very best in his role and to say that we have all of the very best confidence that he will do the New Democratic Party proud,” Barnwell said.
Gonsalves also used the congratulatory segment of the meeting to “recognise the service of the Honourable Arnhim Eustace and also the elevation of Godwin Friday.
“We will have opportunities, no doubt in the future, to speak to the question of the contribution of the Honourable Member for East Kingstown and the Honourable Member from the Northern Grenadines,” he said.