A senior opposition lawmaker is urging speaker of the House of Assembly Jomo Thomas to reconsider his decision to resign.
On Tuesday, Thomas announced that he will quit the post early in the first quarter of 2020, after just four years on the job.
But he also announced his immediate resignation as a member of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) and the party’s caretaker for South Leeward, which he failed to win in the 2015 general elections.
Speaking on his weekly programme on NICE Radio on Wednesday, Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock said Thomas should serve the full term.
Thomas’ stint as speaker would end automatically when the Parliament is dissolved ahead of the next general elections.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said on Monday that Vincentians will go to the polls by the end of 2020 — ahead of the March 2021 constitutional outer limit.
“And if Jomo really and genuinely wants to look at the opportunity to advance the democracy of this country and to represent the interest of the poor and struggling masses that the speaks of and loves so well, he will see it out to the end of this government’s term,” said Leacock, who is also a vice-president of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP).
“Because all he is doing is creating an opportunity to further undermine democracy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines by allowing some other party to be elected as Speaker of the House. And Jomo needs to stay there, stay at his post like all of us who have sacrificed, get his shoulders bruised off and man up,” Leacock said.
Leacock was responding to a comment by a caller, who said the reasons Thomas had given for his impending resignation are sort of selfish and “more about him”.
The caller, who did not identify himself, said he thinks that if Thomas’ interest was to ensure that there are competing ideas and service to the people, he can best do that as speaker of the national assembly, which the caller described as one of the highest offices in the land.
“And further… now that he has had this enlightenment, this realisation, he wants to leave the chair in a year of 2020, believed to be an election year. Won’t it be the time when he would want to make sure that there is fairness of ideas discussed in the highest decision position of the land,” the caller said.
Leacock said the caller’s comments were spot on.
“When the prime minister is not right, demonstrate your manhood and tell him to his face where to get off,” Leacock said, adding that what Thomas was doing was “escapist”.
“I don’t give him any marks at all for it, for leaving the Parliament. None whatsoever,” Leacock said.
Responding to a suggestion by the caller, Leacock said: “I will talk to him nicely, because in essence, he is abdicating his role and responsibilities to the people at this time.
“I don’t give him any marks at all for leaving because he is a million times better than what we had before and people say better the devil you know. I have my differences with him but certainly, he has been a significant improvement over what obtained when we had his predecessor in office. “
Leacock said that what Thomas announced at his press conference in Kingstown the previous day was “… in essence, … stupidness” (nonsense).
“The government fired him already,” Leacock further said of Thomas.
“They allowed the lady that came on and say she will cut our arse in Rose Hall, the former deputy person at the NIS, the fact that they had her addressing the ladies’ arm of the party and speaking and addressing herself as the next representative, says that they had no respect for Jomo. And I know if people don’t respect you why you want to continue to show them respect and Jomo is doing exactly that.”
Leacock was speaking of a recent ULP event in North Windward, where the featured speaker, Mineva Glasgow, who has been campaigning in South Leeward, announced at that she is the ULP candidate in that district in the next election — even in the absence of a primary.
“Jomo has to be straight up to know that his observation that the people of South Leeward have not been taken care of by the governing regime cannot be confined to South Leeward.”
In a recent opinion piece, Thomas accused the ULP of continually neglecting South Leeward, including after the 2015 polls.
“He knows that obtains for all of the constituencies. It is so for Central Leeward, it is so for North Leeward and across the board and he has been there in the thick and thin of the political discussions for the last five years and he must have come face-to-face with the objective reality that there is a lot of fluff about the government and party that he’s supporting.”
Leacock said no one was saying Thomas has to lend any support to the NDP.
“He doesn’t even have to subscribe to our ideological philosophies and principles and our beliefs but he can take an independent position and defend two things which I have been arguing about: the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the democracy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and he doesn’t have to be in either political camp to do that.
“And he is well trained and suited to stand up and be a man.”
But NDP chairman and MP for West Kingstown, Daniel Cummings, who appeared on the same show, said Thomas was “perhaps late because one would have thought that having been a candidate and having been made the speaker, he should have resigned as a member of the party the moment he was made speaker”.