Member of Parliament for North Windward Montgomery Daniel is, this month, celebrating 30 years in electoral politics.
The Housing Minister also told Parliament during the budget debate, on Tuesday, that he will seek a fifth term as MP for the north-eastern constituency.
Daniel said he is grateful to constituents, who he said are very dear to his heart.
He said that in February 1989, a group of individuals came to his father’s home and asked his father’s approval to have him as the Labour Party candidate for the constituency.
Daniel’s father agreed and he became the candidate in the May 1989 elections.
“And I am sure you would remember the historic movement of that election,” he said, referring to the New Democratic Party’s clean sweep of the polls that year.
“But having lost, Mr. Speaker, that very team decided to work along with me and to establish a Labour Party first in the constituency.
“And after 12 years in opposition, finally, we won the election in 2001. Twelve years in opposition, Mr. Speaker, it was not easy and I can imagine how it is being felt on the opposition side going 19 years.”
Daniel said the team that worked with him, together with the constituency council, has worked tirelessly and consistently with him over the years since 1989.
“And, in a few weeks, Mr. Speaker, we will arrive at a milestone. We will be celebrating 30 years in active politics in this country.
“Thirty years in politics, Mr. Speaker is not an easy milestone. And if my memory serves me right, there are only three other legends in this country that would have gone past the 30-year mark: Ralph Gonsalves, James Mitchell, and Vincent Beache. I join the company of the legends,” Daniel said.
He thanked the constituency and the constituency council for their hard work over the years and the supporters who took the journey with him.
“I want to say to the constituency, rest assured, I am in your hands and whatever you request of me, I am prepared to do, legally though.”
He said that in 1998, when the Unity Labour Party lost to the NDP 8 seats to 7, his party leader told him there were only two senatorial positions and three persons were being considered.
“I said to my party leader, ‘I will not accept your invitation as senator to the house of Parliament. I will so accept when the constituency gives me the opportunity to do so.
“And so, in 2001, they granted me that opportunity and I am here 18 years and counting,” he said, noting that he won elections in 2001, 2005, 2010, and 2015.”
The NDP is challenging Daniel’s 2015 election in one of two petitions that it has filed, the hearing of which would continue in the High Court next week.
“And if you ask me again, I will win it again whenever it is called,” Daniel said, adding that he had indicated to constituents that he has reached retirement age.
“And they said to me, look again, look across the parliament and see for yourself. So I looked across the opposition bench and I see the average age is 65 years. I looked at the government side and I see the average age is 60 years. My speaker, the bad thing about it is this: I am above the average age on this side. And therefore, I can take the privilege of going home.
“But I am below the average age on the other side and that’s the bad thing about it because my constituency has asked me, if you’re below the average age of the other side, why can you not continue? And I will continue what best I can do for the constituents of North Windward,” Daniel said.
The next general elections in SVG are constitutionally due in March 2021.