Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, last Thursday, engaged in verbal warfare against persons who he perceived as trying to dull the shine of the five “fresh” candidates that his Unity Labour Party (ULP) is presenting to the electorate in the upcoming polls.
Gonsalves, addressing the party’s national council, at Arnos Vale, spoke glowingly of Curtis King, Orando Brewster, Mineva Glasgow, Dominic Sutherland and Carlos Williams.
The five newcomers will represent the ULP in West St. George, Central Leeward, South Leeward, Central Kingstown and Northern Grenadines, respectively.
Gonsalves said he preferred to call the candidate “fresh” as he was trying to avoid “new”, part of the name of the New Democratic Party (NDP), against which the ULP has won 8-7 in the 2010 and 2015 polls.
The ULP came to office in March 2001 with a 12-3 majority, unseating the NDP, which it had forced to early polls halfway through its fourth term in political unrest one year earlier.
The ULP held on to the reins of power, returning to office in 2005 with another 12-3 victory before losing, in 2010, four seats to the NDP, which held on to them in 2015, but failed to unseat the ULP, which was returned with the same 8-7 result.
Curtis ‘love people’
Gonsalves focused his verbal assault on politicians, retired politician, political spokesperson and a journalist alike, with Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, an NDP senator and first-time candidate for West St. George, the first to fall under his tongue.
The ULP leader noted that Bacchus-Baptiste had said that King had come to politics wanting “to eat ah food”.
“Imagine that. Talking that about a man whose navel string bury inside of West St. George, who came from the poor and the working people, built himself, got educated, was a primary school teacher, a secondary school teacher. A man who reached the ranks of headmaster of the Grammar School with a solid pension and a good family,” the prime minister said.
“Kay Bacchus-Browne-Baptiste-Gill,” Gonsalves said, referring to Bacchus-Baptiste by each of the surnames she had used, namely her maiden name and three marriage surnames.
He said that King “built himself through the communities, help people of all ages, and you want to traduce him?
“She should say, ‘Well, I really sorry he didn’t come to the NDP because to talk the truth, Curtis is a good man. And, most important, he love people’,” Gonsalves said.
‘Brewster took the advice of somebody higher’
The prime minister also defended Brewster, 33, who, last month completed a Doctor of Medicine degree — having erroneously said repeatedly that he had a “doctorate of medicine — but who, in order to pursue politics, has shelved the two-year internship that would allow him to practice medicine.
In 2015, Brewster, a former teacher, emphasised at a ULP rally in Layou that education is his first love and said that he was studying medicine to become the physician for his village, Texier Road.
Gonsalves said Brewster is man “from the bowels of the people.
The ULP leader noted that Brewster is a Pentecostal Christian, adding that he is not a Christian who believes “that you should stay in a monastery or lock up in your house and just pray.
“He say, ‘I am going among my people to do service’,” the prime minister said, adding that medicine, Pentecostal evangelism, working in youth organisation, constitute service, as “coming into politics is service for the people whom I have the foundation stone of love”.
The prime minister responded to an open letter by journalist Kenton Chance, executive editor of iWitness News wrote on Facebook encouraging Brewster to complete his internship before entering politics.
“And the head of the NDP public relations department, Kenton Chance by name — I want him to hear me and hear me well — write an open letter to him giving advice to Orando,” the prime minister said in his party’s continued efforts to discredit the journalist.
He noted that Chance is not related to Brewster, nor is he a member of the ULP. The prime minister further speculated about the journalist’s political inclination.
“He ain’t support the ULP. Every time you see iWitness News is NDP news with one set of commentators traducing people. Dare to come and give Orando advice to tell him stay out of politics, that Ralph would not ask any of his children who did medicine to come into politics before he did his internship.”
The prime minister noted that his son, Storm had replied to Chance saying that he (the prime minister) would have told his children to follow their conscience.
What Gonsalves did not say, however, is that his son also said that he (the prime minister) would have wanted his son to complete his education.
“Orando Brewster took the advice of somebody higher. He looked up on the hills in Layou, and he went on his knees and he asked the advice and guidance of Almighty God. He say, ‘You are my strength and my salvation. Tell me what I must do.’ He (the Lord) say, ‘Go to labour and join the Unity Labour Party and be a candidate.’”
Speaking about Chance, the prime minister further said:
“Kenton, you’re campaigning to be press secretary for the prime minister named Godwin Friday [, the leader of the opposition and NDP president]. That will never happen because Friday will not be prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“Do not, Kenton Chance, touch the Lord’s anointed. I don’t know what got into his head. I have nothing against the young man. But when you put your mouth in business in that kind of way, you expect the patriarch of labour to tek yo’ on. I ain’t leaving you for nobody else.”
‘Queen’ Mini subjected to ‘meanness’
The prime minister also defended Glasgow, who he referred to as “a queen”.
He referred to a post appearing last month on the Facebook page of Monty Roberts, a former NDP parliamentary representative, which suggested that Glasgow was unable to love people because she had no biological children.
Roberts has denied making the post, saying his account was hack, an explanation that the prime minister dismissed.
“You ever hear such utter rubbish, misogyny. I wah ask you this — how Mother Teresa who never had a child loves and worked with hundreds of millions of people in India to uplift the poor? How do many, many women all over the world who don’t have children make sure that others are like their children and take care of them?
“Monty say somebody hack. Somebody go hack Monty phone? Monty? Monty is not a factor but it just shows the mindset inside of the NDP. How they want to run down Curtis, how they want to devalue Orando, and how they want to be sickening.”
The prime minister noted that Glasgow holds a several academic degrees, including a Doctor of Philosophy in management and is a specialist in social security and national insurance.
“With pension reform on the agenda for the ULP in the next government you have to have a woman with love, and with heart and with soul with the royal diadem, the queen. I love you, Labour loves you, St. Vincent and the Grenadines loves you, Mini,” he said, referring to Glasgow by one of her preferred monikers.
He said that Glasgow is a devout Seventh Day Adventist and woman of “extraordinary faith and she, too, went to her lord and saviour for guidance and she was led by the almighty to Labour”.
Gonsalves said that Glasgow has worked for years “among the people and at this stage in our life, has decided to give service through politics”.
He said that she was the subject of “meanness” in March when she was sworn in as a ULP senator and Lavern King, public relations officer of the NDP, commented that Glasgow had worn to the swearing in a dress she had worn to an even the previous year.
“Imagine you’re a woman and even woman could be a misogynist. The first thing she did when Mini was sworn in in Parliament, she congratulated Mini for wearing the same frock she did wear a year ago,” Gonsalves said.
“Anybody ever watch what jacket and pants that Ralph and Arnhim and Friday wear a year ago? No. That is where her mind is.
“Whether it is woman there, whether it is a has been like Monty is the same philosophical premise from which they have because they don’t have any real progressive philosophical guidance. They are a ragtag group of electoral elites seeking to put their hand on the treasury of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves said of the NDP.
Sutherland ‘moving quietly in Central Kingstown’
He noted that Sutherland, the ULP’s candidate in Central leeward is up against the NDP’s St. Clair Leacock.
“When you hear St. Clair talk, you think Leacock got majority like what Ralph got? He just want to put himself in Ralph league with political support,” Gonsalves said of the two-term MP and NDP vice-president.
Gonsalves said that Sutherland is “a highly trained professional”, an accountant, and an adviser to businesses.
“… and he’s moving quietly in Central Kingstown. And watch out you could have a shock in Central Kingstown election night.
“Leacock better have next to him his medical practitioner and have a cardiologist there too to take care of their heart just in case the shock cause real damage to him. I don’t want the shark cause damage to him, to his health but he better watch out.”
Bagga man for ULP in Bequia
The fifth “fresh” candidate is Carlos Williams, who is originally from Barrouallie, in Central Leeward, but is representing the ULP in the Northern Grenadines, an NDP stronghold.
“He in labour politics since you going to school. He went to live in Bequia and married into a labour family. Labour blood meet labour blood,’ Gonsalves said.
He further said that Williams “educated himself” and works at the Standards Bureau.
“But most important again is the love that the people in Bequia have for Carlos and the love that he has for the people in the northern Grenadines, and in St. Vincent and Grenadines,” the prime minister said.