Speaker of the House of Assembly and Unity Labour Party (ULP) candidate for North Leeward, Carlos James has threatened legal action and says he was not suggesting breaching the COVID-19 protocols when he said in a voice note “politics is a very fluid thing, eh, meaning that not everything yo’ put in writing yo’ ha’ to directly follow”.
The voice note began circulating on Tuesday and in the recording, the former government senator, was speaking to someone about an event that he is organising in the constituency on Saturday.
“… Listen to me, the event on Saturday, right, don’t follow the restrictions of about 20 persons or so per community. I expect Fitz Hughes to bring out a larger number than that. Leh the Unruly Boys them come through, organise with Kenny truck, alyo hop on the truck and alyo come through,” James said.
Fitz Hughes is a stronghold of the main opposition New Democratic Party in North Leeward, where James will make his second attempt to unseat the parliamentary representative, Roland “Patel” Matthews, who is seeking a third five-year term in office.
In the recording, James continued:
“So we not limiting the numbers coming from Fitz Hughes. Yo’ see this thing, politics is a very fluid thing, eh, meaning that not everything yo’ put in writing yo’ ha’ to directly follow because we are guided by the process and we need to get Fitz Hughes excited. You understand me? So ah wa’an de fellas them come out and be a part ah de thing. So let’s work on that for Saturday. Mobile as much fellas from Unruly and the Fitz Hughes posse to come out to the event.”
Speaking on Boom FM on Tuesday, James threatened legal action, telling the host of the show, Dwight “Bing” Joseph:
“It’s an event we are having and I want you to listen very carefully because I have my lawyers who are also listening to this broadcast. And I have better lawyers than you.”
James laughed as he spoke about better lawyers although his tone was stern when he initially spoke about his lawyers listening to the show.
But he found himself having to respond to a question regarding whether his commitment and promises to North Leeward would are fluid also.
“This is in relation to an event where I set restrictions. I am allowed to change the restrictions if I want to and they are not restriction relating to any law that was set or cast in stone… They are my restrictions. I am free to change them, if I want. Why is it being blown into some political melee?” the politician said.
“It is not a scoop, it is not a leak. I publicly disclosed that to explain to them that I am allowing for additional persons to come. And in allowing those additional persons, we are relaxing the restrictions that I set and provisions that I set to accommodate the whistle stop and that is in relation to one community…
James, a lawyer, said that the voice note was not a private recording.
“It is an open conversation I was having. I sent that information off to a particular community so they can listen to an explanation that I was giving.”
He said that the restrictions he was referring to are what he has set for the event.
James said that a whistle stop will be held in the constituency on Saturday, and he has imposed his restriction to ensure it does not turn out to be a motorcade, which is illegal for political campaigns.
“And I have decided to have approximately maybe eight vehicles on the road during this whistle stop…
“… The eight vehicles will cover eight communities that form the constituency of North Leeward. And if you give or take maybe 18-20 persons in a van, maybe 18, then you will arrive at least one van per community…
“So the restrictions are not even pertaining to COVID. We are well within the COVID guidelines. The restrictions are pertaining to the smooth flow of traffic that is going to follow if we decide to go on the road in the motorcade.”
Asked if his statement had anything to do with the COVID-19 protocols, James said, “For you to even allude to that fact is ridiculous and irresponsible. For you to even go on radio and try to marry both is an irresponsible thing.”
He, however, said that in the voice note, he was “giving provisions for one community to relax my provisions that I set as it pertains to the persons who can come on the road
“So they are going to replace a van with a larger vehicle, maybe a bus or a truck to facilitate — and if you ask how many additional persons I am relaxing the rules for, when I check and did a tally of the numbers, it is only an additional number of five. So that instead of 20, an additional five persons will be coming from that particular community. That is essentially what it is.”
Asked what he meant when he said politics is fluid, James said:
“Politics is fluid in the sense that you are going to have, which actually happened, other communities saying how is it that one community is allowed to bring five extra persons than my community.
“And the point I was making to them was to say, look, listen, this thing is not set in stone. If I decide on the rules I want to set and if I go back and say I am relaxing it for one community. It is a fluid thing. There is a high and a low and if I decide, or if the persons decide there is a little bit of excitement coming out of one particular community and they want to attract at least a little bit more persons on the whistle stop, then I give provision for that. They are my rules that I set.”
James said he had other rules for the activity but he would not disclose what they are.
“It’s a whistle stop. What do you want, a constitution when you have a whistle stop?”
He said that the eight vehicles are expected to carry just over 100 persons, noting that this is way below the 300 persons that the national COVID-19 protocols permit at an outdoor mass gathering.
“But the real crux of the matter is, I was, more or less, being more concerned about the flow of traffic, not having a build up of traffic behind the whistle stop ad ensuring that we don’t run afoul of the law — the traffic laws.”
Asked about his comments that not everything that is written has to be followed, James said:
“That is in relation to the restrictions that I set. I was the one who gave specific restrictions curtailing what can be done on the whistle stop. And I said to you, the last thing you want is to have 50 vehicles in a caravan blocking the flow of traffic into North Leeward. That would be irresponsible.”
He said the public discussion about the event is a problem as people are now calling him asking to be part of the event and why only one village was allowed to have more than 20 persons.
“I am personally hoping it is not a big event. That’s why I set the restrictions in place.”