Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.(iWN file photo)

By *Jomo Sanga Thomas

(“Plain Talk”, July 3, 2020)

The 2020 elections are rapidly approaching. Gonsalves loves December elections. We offer 2005, 2010 and 2015 election cycles as proof. He repeatedly said the elections will be called before year-end. Constitutionally due March 2021, Vincentians can expect to go to the polls later this year.

Last Saturday we made the following post:

“The 2020 elections in SVG is too early to call as opposed to too close to call. If you are a betting man, the best you can safely say is ULP 6, NDP 4. Don’t assume that either side will easily get the coveted 8 victories necessary to form the next government.”

Supporters from both sides of the political divide jumped on the post. We were called crazy, unscientific and worse. One leading official of the ruling party said the post was intended to offer support to the NDP, but it was too late. Other ULP supporters with an inside track posted numbers from a poll and declared that the ULP will do even better this time than in 2015. Opposition supporters quarrelled. Many said our forecast had to be wrong because Vincentians were so fed up with the governing party that this time there must be a change.

Some said ULP has cheated since 2005 so expect them to cheat again.

We maintain that as of July 1, 2020, the elections are too early to call. Plain Talk did not say too close to call. Too early to call simply means that much can happen between now and elections day.

Unless there is a massive swing away from the ULP, PM Gonsalves, Saboto Caesar, Frederick “Gustaus” Stephenson, Jimmy Prince and Camillo Gonsalves will retain their seats. The safe bet is that newcomer, teacher/historian, Curtis King so well rooted in West St. George, will beat back a spirited and energetic challenge from Kay Bacchus Baptiste.

Dr. Godwin Friday and Terrance Ollivierre hold the Grenadines seats, while Major Leacock and Daniel Cummings will get third terms in Central Kingstown and West Kingstown.

There are 5 seats in play at this juncture. The Leeward constituencies which are currently held by Roland “Patel” Mathews, the retiring Sir Louis Straker and Nigel Stevenson.

In 2015, the ULP narrowly lost North Leeward, and Carlos James must now fancy his chances. However, the ULP having lost by a mere 12 votes may have hurt its chances by back-loading much of what it had to do for the year before the elections. The coronavirus slowed ULP’s attempt to finish projects and win favours. There is a mad rush to repair the roads, rebuild the bridges and the wharf at Chateaubelair. With high unemployment and growing hopelessness, James, aloof and pompous, will not easily remove the rabble-rousing Mathews.

The two contests to watch with hawk’s eyes are those in East Kingstown and Central Leeward. Luke Browne is a formidable challenger. Contesting against the leader of the opposition in 2015, he shaved more than 300 votes off Eustace’s 2010 victory margin, to lose by less than 150. He’s youthful, aggressively determined and overly committed to winning. His father has long labelled him a future Prime Minister. His ambition to lead may prove his undoing.

Browne will face Dwight “Fitz” Bramble who replaces Arnhim Eustace. Bramble, younger, a former national footballer and diplomat, carries an expectation burden. NDP has held the seat since 1984. Bramble may not lose any of the support the former Opposition leader held. However, he must get to East Kingstown as soon as the airlines start flying. A delay increases problems in the constituency for NDP.

Orondi Brewster, a medical doctor stands in for Sir Louis Straker who ensured that Central Leeward stayed in the ULP column since 1994. Brewster possesses a strong, booming voice. Whether his youth offers a connectivity that allows him to build on the ULP’s 2015 314-vote margin, is to be seen. He will be strongly tested by Ben Exeter. Exeter’s candidacy, underrated in 2015, sent the ULP leadership into a tizzy last election night.

Exeter’s legal challenge of Sir Louis’s election remains unresolved. The entire NDP leadership and its supporters remain convinced they were cheated out of a seat and the chance to topple the ULP. To his credit, Exeter, who resided in Canada for decades, remained grounded and continued to work with voters. The ULP will not underestimate his chances this time, while Exeter will be revving for the victory he is convinced was stolen from him in 2015. Only the politically naïve will count him out.

South Leeward is a seat that the ULP should have easily won last time. Its leadership sacrificed it in a political gambit that almost cost the party the elections. Nigel Stevenson, the two-time incumbent is a lacklustre candidate, but the NDP election machine in South Leeward is stellar. It took the party home in 2015 and could again this time around.

The ULP offers Dr. Minerva Glasgow, a life-long NDP supporter. Dr Glasgow, an accomplished executive, is an unexciting, dour retiree who will be hard-pressed to enthuse the voters. Worst, the ULP did precious little in the last 10 years to endear itself to South Leeward voters. The most neglected constituency in the country, it’s anyone’s guess whether the current efforts to get some things done will not amount to too little too late. South Leeward is a marginal seat and the ULP could surprise.

Montgomery Daniel vies for a 5-consecutive victory in North Windward. Reports are that he will be challenged by a female teacher. He won by 320 votes in 2015, an increase of a mere 70 votes after the ULP spent heavily following the Rock Gutter disaster that took the lives of several young people. Daniel, as Housing Minister, was also in control of the government’s lumber, cement and galvanize giveaway bonanza.

Yet an 8 to 7 result compelled Gonsalves to pleasurably declare, “A win is a win.”

In politics, a lot can change in a short space of time. All politics is local. ULP is going for a 5th term. Many are neglected, turned off or simply not impressed. This reality explains Gonsalves’ nervousness as reflected in his overbearing, daily attempts to saturate the news media with his voice.

Because postcolonial SVG is not post-colonial, the light-skinned Friday will be his biggest threat to the continued domination of local politics. Whoever triggers the imagination of the populace will win. We await the day of decision.

*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. 

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

13 replies on “Too early to call”

  1. C. Ben-David says:

    An interesting prognostication from a seasoned political operative that nevertheless neglects to mention that, save for the hard work, cleverness, charisma, and regional respect of its leader, what would otherwise be a tired four-term government all of whose developmental projects — Argyle airport, rejuvenation of the Ottley Hall shipyard, transformation of Arnos Vale into a major commercial centre, all of the new private and public tourism hotel projects on the mainland, headed by the long and presumably permanently shuttered Buccament Bay resorts — have born bitter fruit or are destined to be abysmal failures thereby deserving a sound thrashing in the next election.

    A combination of superior political leadership even in the absence of any economic development prowess combined with, as in all previous elections going back to 2001, a grossly incompetent, brainless, uninspiring, and lazy opposition should be sufficient to earn the Comrade a fifth in a row election win.

  2. Jomo it’s is not a fair a complimentary that Curtis King is going to walk away easily in the constituency of WSG. The former representative Ces Mackie could well be a liability and an albatross around the neck of Curtis King. WSG has a habit of voting around family lines. However, one cannot simply say it would be a piece of cake.The NDP needs to get out the NDP voters who do not go to the poles for one reason or the other.

  3. Jomo if Friday is light skinned what would you describe the comrade and son. I am not calling five in a row until I see it. However, I am not discountin the role of political naivety and bribery.

  4. Peoples and nations are often poor not so much as a result of natural disasters but rather through the life choices they make.

    Choosing Socialism as an ideology in government or as a working model is one such a poor life choice as the historical evidence shows us. Socialism has never worked on any part of the globe yet its enduring appeal as the lexicon of the poor continues to draw the poor masses and indeed some governments.

    Poor masses are attracted to socialism because of the idea of taking from the perceived rich and some governments use the lexicon of socialism to dishonestly attract support or votes.

    What is certain for sure is that which a Yorkshire man would say and would baffle all Americans, “you don’t get nought for nought” in this world! So ‘Eee by gum! Aye up!
    https://www.heritage.org/progressivism/commentary/three-nations-tried-socialism-and-rejected-it

    [“According to the World Bank, more than one billion people have lifted themselves out of poverty in the past 25 years, “one of the greatest human achievements of our time.”

    Of those billion, approximately 731 million are Chinese, and 168 million Indians. The main driver of this uplift from poverty has been the globalization of the international trading system. China owes most of its success to the trade freedom offered by the U.S. and the rest of the world.” ]

    Thus the prosperity of our small nation of SVG have always rested upon our making smart choices!

  5. Jomo, there are many truths and more views on the nature of good in life. Ten people can view the same event from a different point of view.

    A single truth lies in the fact that a speaker of the House, member the ruling party and practicing lawyer block a legal motion by the opposition in favor of the his party then sometime later said he was sorry he made a mistake then he got kicked out of government and the ULP then apparently turncoat only to emerge as a true cunt, eh Jomo? A single truth, He is a traitor to the constitution of SVG. A criminal and enemy of the people of SVG.

    This can’t be the pride before the fall because you already fall. All you got election-manipulation down to a science but the younger generation will teach you all a lesson. Dutty backbiter, all you want everything fo alyo self, alyo don’t give one flying fok bout the poor and jobless population. Take off the blinding gunslaves glasses.

    1. Dear “r”,

      I write to you, again, regarding your comments on iWitness News.

      You have repeatedly exposed us to legal proceedings in some of the clearly defamatory and potentially defamatory comments that you have made, generally, on our website.

      While we are careful to edit your comment so as to remove defamatory statements, it is very time-consuming for a small outfit such as iWitness News. And truth be told, there are time when we have missed some statements that could have exposed to to legal implications.

      Further, you seem unwilling to moderate your comments so that you are still sharply critical while NOT defaming anyone.

      In light of this, and the amount of time and energy it takes to peruse your comments for defamatory or potentially defamatory statements, I have taken the decision to not approve any further comments that you make on the iWitness News website.

      While this is regrettable in light of our own own views on freedom of expression, I feel I have not other choice if I am to protect the reputation of iWitness News and that of the people against whom you make unfounded, defamatory statements.

      ---

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      Kenton X. Chance
      Executive Editor
      iWitness News
      Rillan Hill, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

      1. Mr Kenton X. Chance,

        I respect you and your news-website and I apologize for causing you trouble. I can become very impassioned in my empathy with the ordinary person and poor people in SVG that’s why I write from that perspective. I comment on politics and other outright evil going on in SVG. Not that I don’t have anything better to do but I feel a strong connection to the marginalized people in SVG. People in politricks should be able to take criticism. But you are right, I should go on Twitter and Facebook and protect you from political persecution. Or should I write a newspaper column? Would that be acceptable? I will back up my statements with bona fide references and use fewer expletives when I get frustrated with all the [email protected]#%%! I perceive.
        Thank you once more for your message, I apologize to all who feel offended by my opinions, and success with the rest of your life.

        Best Regards,
        r

        P.S. when Margaret Thatcher died people lined the procession route and stoned the Hearst with all types of projectiles, spit on the vehicle, and shouted profanities at the Hearst carrying the deceased. Few if any persons were arrested.

  6. jomo thomas says:

    Most of what you say here is true. Please remember that I have 1000 words to say everything.

  7. John Kuumba Cato. says:

    Last election with a desire to see the completion of the AIA, I kept my eye riveted on M.Daniel. He was a disaster at the Agriculture ministry and a catastrophe at housing and wondered if NDP recognized he was key to their win. Back then I was glad they let him get away. It is in bad taste to speak of dead bodies now during a pandemic, but even the dead bodies that washed out showed more life than him. He offers the country absolutely nothing, and there are others. Sorry Israel Bruce, Saboto is the only one who seems energized and it will take a lot to unseat him, the others are just riding on the bombast of PM Gonsalves including Camillo, who I think with the right candidate, can be defeated. Sure the ULP has built a lot of structures, it is one way to keep money turning around in the economy, But when a country goes bankrupt, it does so with the structures built, still standing. They are clearly good at finding donor agencies and writing proposals. It seems like their intent is to leave so much debt, to hinder the NDP, should they win. Unable to develop the country’s Human Resources they come up with fancy acronyms, runs up and down handing out money and will Vincentians will buy that ? Yet the last paragraph of the above comment says it all. I really wonder if the NDP is serious, or are they happy to receive their big paychecks, sound bright in parliament, but wishes to avoid the responsibility of governing. Do they really believe they can win an election from their “ivory tower”. Even the young people sound more enthusiastic than they do. It is true than you cannot present all your ideas for fear that the ULP will take them. But you must first believe, or at least sound so. SVG needs a change, SVG is clamoring for a change. If all is well in the organization, unless age and laziness has gotten the better of them, these are people who I believe can move SVG forward, and if not up to the challenge, say so and move out of the way. How long have the NDP been waiting, this is the chance to leave their mark. It’s not like they have a lot of time left. By the way Jomo, my father is Black skinned, my mother light skinned, the color of their children are mixed, and so are many of our relatives. WHAT DOES FRIDAY’S LIGHT SKIN HAVE ANY TO DO WITH IT?

    1. aubrey burgin says:

      Thank you John Kuumba Cato. I believe you have Bequia Roots and grew up in Walker Piece New Montrose. Your last line is very EXPLICIT. I say no more.

  8. The Ulp has been a failure with respect to development in WSG. I remembered seeing a video of someone planted a banana sucker in the middle of the road in Delaware, Dauphine The ulp.has been a collosal failure and doesn’t deserve to be reelected in WSG. However, the Ulp is bound to b win in WSG not because of progress but because of voting around family tradition and many of the residents are susceptible to a bellyful. For these reasons, the Ulp is bound to win in WSG.

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