From left, St. Clair Leacock, Sherlan “Zita” Barnwell, Arnhim Eustace. (iWN file photos)

Vice-president of the New Democratic Party, St. Clair Leacock on Wednesday declined to respond frontally to a public rebuke by former party president Arnhim Eustace.

Eustace had said on Monday that Leacock should have used the party’s internal mechanisms to express his views about replacing Sherlan “Zita” Barnwell as an opposition senator.

Leacock made his comments last week Wednesday, Nov. 22, during his weekly appearance on the party’s “New Times” programme on NICE Radio.

“I know earlier this week, past president of the New Democratic Party shared publicly and by name his comments with respect to my performance and or conduct in the New Democratic Party. I’m not going to give anyone, in particular, those on the opposite side of the political fence any opportunity to report me as having said A, B, C about the Honourable Mr. Eustace,” Leacock said this past Wednesday.

“I am who I am. I have respect for him (Eustace) that I gained over many years and it doesn’t require reciprocity. Mr. Eustace doesn’t have to love me, he doesn’t have to care about me, he doesn’t have to agree with me, he doesn’t have to support me for me to hold him in esteem and hold him in regard. What is important for me is that as members of the same political party, as far as possible, we pull in the same direction and for the same reason.”

Leacock said he is capable of defending himself.

“No one has to come and validate me as being a responsible person. My historical record in where I have served, in all that I have served attest to that fact.”

He said he has joined organisations from the bottom up.

“I haven’t parachuted into any organisation, including the New Democratic Party — where I have been a vice-president for nearly 17 years. And I have worked myself to the top. It has been my approach to life that wherever I am challenged, I work harder than I worked before and that has always given me a good result.”

Leacock said he is always mindful of his own imperfections and shortcomings.

“But the New Democratic Party family, and, in particular, the people Central Kingstown can be assured that at all times, I have their best interest at heart and would work assiduously and fearlessly and uncompromisingly, to ensure that they have that improved or better life that they as constituents and myself as representative agree that they are entitled to and should be delivered to them. And that is where I am this morning with respect to those comments.”

He said that whether Wednesday would be his last programme he couldn’t say.

“I don’t have that determination. But I am mindful of the fact and I take the biblical injunction when I say this… that we are like vapours, specks, dust — in the moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we are all gone.  In a few short years, the opportunity I had to give public service through politics will be over and done. And I do not stay on in any organisation, politics included, longer than it is necessary.”

The Central Kingstown representative said he has a satisfaction in his mind that at least the people of Central Kingstown appreciate what he is doing for them.

Leacock was the only opposition candidate to record improved performance in the 2015 general elections, in which he won a second consecutive term.

“I am also very satisfied that while there may be detractors and people of another persuasion that there is a large body of opinion in the New Democratic Party that I have a contribution to make and would like to see me continue to offer that service to them. And I press on in that regard.”

During his programme last week Wednesday, Leacock said that opposition leader Godwin Friday should have replaced both senators Barnwell and Julian “Jules” Ferdinand who was this week replaced by lawyer Kay Bacchus-Baptiste.

Bacchus-Baptiste has also replaced Ferdinand as the party’s candidate for West St. George

She was selected after Ferdinand, who lost to the Unity Labour Party’s Cecil “Ces” McKie – who secured a second term – announced that like the NDP, he anticipates an early election and would not be able to dedicate the time to the constituency because of his schedule as a university lecturer based in Trinidad.

General elections are constitutionally due in March 2021