Jomo Thomas speaking at the press conference in Kingstown on Tuesday, during which he announced he had resigned his membership of the ruling Unity Labour Party. (iWN photo)

Lawyer and activist Jomo Thomas, on Tuesday, announced that he has resigned as a member of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) and would quit as Speaker of the House of Assembly early next year.

Thomas, who was the ULP’s candidate for South Leeward in 2015, also announced that he had no intention of offering himself as a candidate in the next general elections.

Prime Minster Ralph Gonsalves said, on Monday, that general elections would be held by the end of 2020, ahead of the March 2021 constitutional deadline.

Thomas said be has come to his decisions primarily because “the time, the energy, the money the effort, cannot be properly justified, considering the current state of play in the party.

“Consequently, to allow for the ease of transition and to allow for a sense of clarity to prevail, particularly among the long-suffering and neglected people of South Leeward, I formally remove myself as caretaker for the constituency so that others  who may desire to represent can move forward,” he told a press conference in Kingstown.

“I think these decisions are important because they allow me to do a number of things. They allow me to free myself up from any strictures I may have, to say and do what I want to so as the year 2020 rolls in,” Thomas said.

Recently, Meneva Glasgow, retired deputy executive director of the National Insurance Services, has been canvassing in South Leeward, telling constituents that she is the ULP candidate for that district in the next general elections.

Thomas, a social commentator with a weekly column for some 15 year, has long been a critical of the ULP, which he has always publicly said he supports.

However, that criticism did not wane much after August 2013 when he became a senator for the ULP administration and went on to become one of the party’s candidate in the 2015 poll.

After losing to the incumbent, Nigel Stephenson of the main opposition New Democratic Party by 118 votes, Thomas accepted the position of the Speaker of the House of Assembly.

Thomas has said in media interviews that he had told Gonsalves that he would only accept the post of speaker if he would be allowed to practice law.

Since the 2015 vote, Thomas and his law firm has won a number of prominent lawsuits against the government, in which the court ruled that the Gonsalves administration had violated citizens’ rights.

“I believe as someone who has been in the heat of the battle and the struggle for the advancement of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines since I was 14 years old, I still have a contribution to make to Vincentian development and Vincentian reality. And I want to not be hindered or hampered in any way as I go forward,” he told Tuesday’s press conference.

‘venomous and scurrilous statements’

Thomas said he tendered his resignation as a member of the ULP earlier on Tuesday but that he did not want to disclose to the public the reasons he had given to the party for doing so.

“This is a position that I held since in 2013 and all Vincentians who have paid close attention would know that it was a rather contentious relationship,” he said.

“It was a relationship which was marked by accusations, it was a relationship which was marked by venomous and scurrilous statements about me and my practice and what I do and what I said and I don’t think I can properly remain a member of the Unity Labour Party in that kind of atmosphere.

“I believe that St. Vincent, like every other place, should be a market place of ideas where ideas contend and I believe that these ideas should be allowed to contend without wild, jaundice, scurrilous torpedoes landed by persons who are powerful, persons who are masters of the state,” he said.

The ULP’s radio station has often been used by its chief propagandist, Frank Da Silva, to launch scathing attacks on Thomas, who has said publicly that Da Silva would never do so if he felt he did not have the blessing of the leadership of the party.

Thomas told the media he had initially planned to make the announcements last week but he thought a lot of what he said might have been “cluttered with” the Independence celebration.

On Sunday, SVG celebrated 40 years of political independence from Britain and Vincentians were given a public holiday on Monday to mark the occasion.

Thomas said: “And I thought that once we get past Independence that maybe we could have a chance and an opportunity to say and do things with much more clarity and that is what I make the statement today rather than to make it last week.”

Thomas said he had planned to make the statement even before last week “but each time my better judgement told me that I should hold off. But, today is the day and here we have it.”

Regarding his resignation of the speakership, Thomas said it “is not unnatural” for one to announce a resignation months in advance.

“I just want to indicate where my mind is and where my mind is going so that persons who are in the business of selecting and nominating and doing all of those good things may have some time in which they can think it through and come up with somebody who is best be able to take up the mantle and proceed as speaker.”

The announcement of the intended resignation came about 19 days after Gonsalves told Thomas in Parliament that if he has something in his “craw” he should speak it.

“If you want to pick on me on for other reasons, pick on me for those reasons. Alright? If something is in your craw, Mr. Speaker, speak it,” Gonsalves told the speaker in a loud, angry outburst.

The prime minister’s comments came after the speaker had reprimanded him for abusing the rules, shortly after the speaker had issued a similarly stern rebuke to an opposition lawmaker.

The Oct. 10 outburst had come less than a week after Thomas, in his weekly media commentary, contrasted his own treatment by the ULP to that of Camillo Gonsalves, the PM’s son.

He told the media, on Tuesday, that he and Gonsalves had not discussed what transpired in Parliament.

‘I am never drawn by money.’

Thomas said that while the speaker’s term runs until parliament is prorogue, “… I always felt that I would not want to sit the entire term because there are so many other things I wanted to do.”

He said that sometime ago Searchlight, a local newspaper carried a front page story about him saying would not sit on a party political platform while he is the speaker.

“That, to me, was a principled position that I took,” Thomas said. “If there are other things that I want to do, I wouldn’t want to be encumbered in anyway by being the speaker of our assembly.”

Thomas said that having served as speaker for almost four years, he is not sure that there is anything else left for him to do in that post.

“I have tried my best to be fair; I have tried to applied the standing orders, the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but we have a rambunctious bunch and people would push and try to pull your chains here and there. People try to rile you up.

“But I think I am proud that I have never been able to allow any individual to pull me into a personal debate or discussion on any matter in the almost four years that I have served as the speaker.”

The speaker, which was made a full time position when the ULP came to officer, gets an annual salary of some EC$82,000 annually, before deduction.

Thomas commented on the workload, saying:

“It is not a lot of time.  I am a student of these things so when the bills come, I would read them. But, I could easily just sit there and not read them. And I just thought that maybe it is something that I can better do.

“People say, ‘Why would you want to give up this?’ But I am never drawn by money. I am never drawn by power and privilege so part of the process of giving up the speaker is to show, look, I can let this go. I don’t have to hold it because it is really not mine to hold. It is mine to see how I can use it to advance our democracy.”

Thomas said the thinks that too often the Parliament has been reduced to “a tribune for petty banter and not really settled on doing the business that the people send us into that august body to do”.

He said that while that is the nature of national assemblies, “… a lot of time when you see a lot of rumpus activities taking place in parliaments, those countries are well-endowed; they are rich”.

He further said that many times those countries have “trained bureaucrats who can sit down and do a lot of the heavy lifting.

“In our Parliament, this is quote-unquote the cream and we have to spend the time thinking through the policies, thinking through the programmes, coming up with the ideas, we have to move from policy conceptualisation to policy implementation and in many respects, sometimes, I don’t think we do the best that we can do. And therefore, I don’t think there is anything else there for me and we are almost at the end of the year and very, very short into the New Year, I would step away.”

21 replies on “Jomo quits ULP, will leave speakership early next year”

  1. MR Thomas you know what you was getting into.A snake is a snake.So when you get bite don’t say you think it did change in to a chicken.Hello miss Meneva how are you doing l hope you getting some much needed rest.Yor are a strong woman from what l heard about you.But l am going to tell a story about the devil and a woman one time a woman went to the devil to deal with him so she tells him she need a barrel of money she was living in a two story house so she cut out the opper floor and put the barrel the devil tooth money hole night and the barrel can’t full when morning come meet the devil is so he look inside from that time he don’t deal with women very good.So that’s why I don’t believe you will represent the ULP.You is a GOD fearing woman and God has blessed you it’s not the ULP you interlec did not come from them you work hard for the position you had God made them gave you what you deserve.Dont destroyed your blessings with the ULP use it for the glory of God true Jesus Christ who have blessed you and protect you from your enemy what the ULP whant to do is to deliver you in the hands of your enemy. GOD have great things for you not politics Maybe the next Governor G who knows.May God continue to bless you DR Meneva.

  2. Should anyone in his/her right mind be surprised of this headline? It is truth that where nepotism has manifested itself there will be upheaval, to respect ‘discipline is tough especially to anyone who is the only insurgent against his absolute power. Nevertheless; ‘true success, true happiness lies in freedom and fulfillment.’

  3. Anthony Durrant MBE JP says:

    I feel a great sympathy for Jomo, the Speaker of the House; and his decision to resign from the ULP and as Speaker in the House in the New Year. SVG is a small democracy and having tied his mast to the ULP in the last election, he was always going to find it a difficult role to act as an impartial adjudicator to the quite heated debate that the Assembly generates; and this was aptly demonstrated when he threw out the motion by the Opposition party last year of “No confidence in the PM”. He was also hindered by continuing his legal representations in Court and having to take the lead in a number of contentious issues against the government. This never goes down well when you are in opposition to your “pay masters”.

  4. I applaud. First speaker to stand up to those who want to “cow you down” but I hate to see you go. Stand up fo democracy.

  5. Hashtag Prince says:

    I commend you Sir and respect you highly for your decision.

    You do not deserve to be disqualified nor disrespected as you have by the Prime Minister of this country.

    You have indeed served St Vincent & the Grenadines with grace and dignity.

    You are a calm and focused man.

    God bless you abundantly in your future endeavours Mr Thomas!

  6. Rawlston Pompey says:

    COME IN PEACE – GO IN PEACE

    Do not know ‘Jomo.’ Followed him only on social media.

    Only know Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves personally. Brotherly friend- (same village Colonarie).

    Though there may have been ‘…abiding discontent; … feelings of rejection and dejection; …disappointment and disgruntlement’ over the state of play, there was hardly a better way for him to part company, organizationally and institutionally.

    In spite of all, ‘Jomo’ may still say, ‘…Comrade, I came in Peace and I am Leaving in Peace.’

    There is still plenty time to ‘…tie up the wounds; …bury the dead and move on.’

    Before ‘…push comes to shove,’ it is always better to jump. No time to be ‘…riled up.’

    Unfortunately, there was the apparent un-statesman-like, or far from a ‘…Plain Talk’ perspective, the pejorative, if not inflammatory use of the word ‘…craw.’

    Though used idiomatically, ‘craw’ appears most suited to market-place discussions than in the sacred Chambers of parliament.

    None, therefore, may think that ‘Jomo’ is a ‘…feathered stock- a garling; …a pigeon; …a ground dove; …a fowl; or a parrot or man-o-war (frigate bird) that is known to nest on the Grenadines island of Baliceaux.’

    Those that have followed and read his ‘…Plain Talk’ commentaries at this news portal, would know that apart from that which may have been committed to his knowledge and in his official capacity, and of which the ‘…Oath of Secrecy’ prohibits divulgence, there was hardly anything that ‘Jomo’ had kept in his ‘…craw.’

    Peace be still, my brothers.

  7. Only now Jomo, or is it the free time to pursue the homosexual freedom in SVG? we all have to make our own choices but, to blatantly going through the court for us to accept this is wrong and the time will come when you will have to pay for this because the wrath of GOD, will rain down fire and brimstones upon you.

    1. Rawlston Pompey says:

      INVOKING SPIRIT OF EVIL

      Though clearly seen to be morally wrong, still believe that he acted in a ‘…strictly professional capacity.’

      Why seek to ‘…Invoke the Spirit of Evil’ upon a man that had taken a principled stand in quitting an apparent untenable situation and clearly ‘…fractious relations’ with his organization and its leader?

      There is always a price to pay. Conversely, circumstances often demand that sacrifices shall be made.

      Moreover, inner peace and love of humanity often dictate these.

  8. Thumbs up to my brother Jomo for taking a stand on principle. A great example for our people especially in leadership to follow. Lead with integrity and honor. Blessings Jomo and thank you.

  9. As of late I can observe that the pm is losing his marbles.Not able to keep it together,still thinks that he has the popular support in Vincy. Poor fella,the power has gone to his head,he’s far far from reality.The sooner he calls election the better it’ll be for the nation and for the pm.Time to go relax Cumrod.
    Funny thing is leaders like the Cumrod will try to hold on because they’ve become drunk with power. Very sad.
    As Vincentians , we shouldn’t do that to our leaders.We shouldn’t elect any one party for more than 3 terms.That way our leaders could be held accountable and not think that they own the country.WE as a people have to do better when it comes to electing leaders. Sad indeed.

  10. Svg is higher

    Afrocentric of our minds cannot destroy by the SlaveClan mentalily, they think they can still keep spade our heads , still. But we know how to run, hope all those other house slaves will before it’s to make. Frank, are you hearing?

    Thanks Jomo, you were not is sponge or Rubber Stamp, this type of behavior was manifested by Ralph in year year of the Movement,fighting for power and leadership. Central Committee others was favored as leaders , men like Ascor Allen, Renrick Rose.
    The result of the votes always challenge by great leader and so in fighting began.
    Always see black as inferior to him. Today you have prove to you integrity as higher than position.
    You knows the struggles in the movement and who reap the benefits by sell out.
    I do hope many others like my Friend Renrick will cut out like Jomo, for also they known deceptiveness of slave traders.

    One thing I beg of you Jomo, before you leave to let The Constitution be our guide.

    Bring to the House of Parliament again Confident Vote up thing and change that ruling to No Confident, which is in the Constitution.and clean your craw which you dorty many times for ULP..

    My two cents

  11. Ah’ perhaps it is time for Jomo to take down that old dusty copy C. L. R. James’s, The Black Jacobins off his library shelf and have another timely read before the next election, for who knows what new insight he may discover; https://libcom.org/files/charles-forsdick-the-black-jacobins-reader-1.pdf

    Moreover ELMA GABRIEL, that Asian Spiritual leader Jashan Pahlajrai Vaswani, born 2 August 1918 and died 12 July 2018 and who as we know was better known as Dada Vaswani, that when he spoke of “true success, true happiness lies in freedom and fulfilment” had never envisaged a people like us, being held captive through our own ignorance and severe poverty!

    Therefore ELMA, it is hard to see how Dada Vaswani’s observation, could in any way, help Jomo or thus free us all from a government that is riddled with cronyism and nepotism and where elections are but a mere sham, as a result of the abuses that are employed therein.

    Jashan Pahlajrai Vaswani also said that “Whenever you have taken up work in hand, you must see it to the finish. That is the ultimate secret of success. Never, never, never give up!” and perhaps that should be the advice by Jomo in his pursuit for real freedom and true emancipation from the entrenched dictatorship.

    Jomo like all of us who desires real and true freedom, should be reminded of the example of those Black Jacobins “CRY OF BATTLE” in their mammoth fight to free themselves from the horrors and abuses of slavery. Quote; “The bloody war against the French was reflected in a song sung by the black soldiers:”

    “To the attack grenadier. Who gets killed, that’s his affair.
    Forget your ma, forget your pa. To the attack grenadier, who gets killed, that’s his affair”.

    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=8AtiDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA103&lpg=PA103&dq=To+the+attack+grenadier+who+gets+killed+that%27s+his+affair&source=bl&ots=fZvSmspIww&sig=ACfU3U1QgzuGK9Ido1cGCE2HGcBet3VeGA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjQu__4s8TlAhX1olwKHY7NBAUQ6AEwDHoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=To%20the%20attack%20grenadier%20who%20gets%20killed%20that's%20his%20affair&f=false

  12. It time to speak out what in your Craw, this from our leader,.

    40 yr ago . Indepedence time : Who brought the Yatch at Villa Harbor full of Gun and Military Gears?

    In 1979 a Yacht was seized in Villa Harbour of Guns and other Military Hardware.
    This time of Revolution in the Caribbean.
    Morris Bishop of Grenada just overthrows the elected government, Eric Garry. Union Island was the next same link and Mainland after.
    Question: Was the Guns belongs to Revolutionaries In SVG ,the young socialist to overflow the Labour Party Government?
    Are many of these men in government today or have positions in government affairs?
    Did Cato foil the plans because erceptions of yatch, that the reason why the military-styleuniform never converged on SVG?
    It any truth that many trained in Cuba, Grenada, and Moscow, a Grenada was the departure gate?
    Was any truth to rumors that Vincy had Grenadian Passport to travel to those socialist Countries and only stamp in Grenada to hide our mission abroad?
    Did the CIA notify the government?.

    Can some one answer it 40yr ago, craw it out now it never to late to speak for we do not know if it was a foreign country was going to take over. SVG.
    Stand up like Jomo

    My to cents

  13. Good Luck Jomo! Rest yourself then come back stronger. SVG needs men and women of your caliber. Our dearly departed friend Morris is chuckling in his grave.

    Vinci Vin

  14. Mica country Montreal, Quebec Canada says:

    If what i read regarding to Miss Geneva Glascow is correct being the candidate for Ulp in the nest general election I am very disapointed in her . I,ve known miss Glascow as a matter of fact she taught me English litterature furthermore she,s a person whom i have great respect for however, I do hope is untrue.

  15. Good riddance. He should never be forgiven for the vote of no confidence fiasco. He is probably getting out now so the new ulp speaker can pass God knows what kind of law to protect if they lose. Jomo will always remain a glorified yardboy on massa’s plantation

  16. I respect Jomo far more than I do the Prime Minister, even though I do not agree with much of the politics, especially economics, of either of them. At least Jomo has integrity and cares more about the country than the PM does. The PM has demonstrated he cares more about attaining power than anything else. The ULP is run like a power-mad dictatorship and anyone with different ideas are attacked and often destroyed. Anyone who “leaves” the “party” is in deep trouble, and for some reason many of them are quickly no longer with us today. I wonder what, if anything, will happen to Jomo?

  17. Amos Greaves. says:

    Jomo is somewhat of an enigma. The Ulp will never accept an independent voice in its ranking. Notice the other Ministers, they are somewhat if Yes men and women. To be a genuine Minister, one profile must be changed from to Yes men and women.

  18. Ricardo Francis says:

    Jomo is a hypocrite.

    Ralph is a hypocrite.

    It is believed that the ULP is full of hypocrites.

    Is the NDP full of hypocrites, also???

    It was a question of time, Jomo.

    I do not GENUFLECT to nobody especially Ralph, the Pharaoh leader.

    You made your bed Jomo and you feathered it, for sometime.

    You should re-consider your quest for the alternative lifestyle representation. It may bring you more grief. I do not believe that you need that additional burden.

    Jomo, every rope has an end.

    Ralph does not believe that his rope has an end.

    Ralph applies and employs heavy/high-handed tactics that are full of venom, that even a venomous snake will refuse.

    Jomo, God is GREAT.

    You should examine your faith in the creator and perhaps read the bible, you may find some answers, Jomo.

    Jomo, have you ever considered:” walking softly and carrying a big stick”? The interpretation of this proverb and or saying has different and varies meanings. I will let you decide.

    Jomo, Ralph wanted you to drink the milk, and not count the cows.

    Jomo, Ralph controls the farm with the cows and he decides the following:

    1. Who gets to drink the milk?;

    2. When you should drink the milk?;

    3. How much milk you get to drink?;

    4. Why you drink the milk and how much milk you drink?;

    5. Which cow and or cows’ milk that you get to drink?;

    6. Remember, not all cows give the same amount of milk and not all cows have the same quality milk;

    7. Again remember, choose the milk carefully that you drink and you may know the cows; and

    8. Ralph does not want anyone who wants the farm, and the cows.

    I have no knowledge and or information of the specific details of your exit, except what I have read in the media. However, I have forensic lenses that can see very far.

    I am very fearless and courageous.

    Ricardo Francis, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Waiting and in the Making.

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