Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has portrayed the main opposition New Democratic Party as too disunited to lead the nation, as his Unity Labour Party seeks a fifth consecutive five-year term in office.
As general elections near, Gonsalves is presenting his Unity Labour Party (ULP) as the natural party of governance in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“… the ULP is self-evidently a united political outfit, singing from the same philosophical and programmatic song sheet agreed upon by all under the leadership of De Comrade,” Gonsalves told the party’s virtual political meeting Wednesday night in a recorded speech as he was still under quarantine after a trip to the United States.
He said the “most compelling evidence” of the party’s unity is the fact that it has remained in government with a one-seat majority for almost 10 years.
“And we have run the government with aplomb and unity with no fissures. And we have achieved mighty things during this period for people,” he said.
The prime minister noted that on three occasions before — in 1966, 1972, and 1998, governments with one-seat majorities–once under Ebenezer Theodore Joshua and twice under James Mitchell — one-seat majority governments collapsed within one to two years.
“My one-seat government is now 10 years. Internally, the ULP is solid as a rock,” said Gonsalves, 74, who is still at the helm of the party a full five years after asking the electorate to give him another term so he can transition to younger leadership.
“And such unity in a political party is vital for its functioning in government. You do not gamble on this, I say to you, my dear voters; disunity leads inevitably to confusion and poor governance; so, too, weak leadership. And what you see in opposition is what you would get worse in government.”
Gonsalves invited voters to see the NDP “in its disunited state” and said that the party is being held together by two things –“anti-Ralph bile and its thirst and hunger for power.
“Inside of the NDP, St. Clair Leacock must often feel as though he is a political orphan, or to use the jaundiced language of yesteryear, a bastard child, politically speaking,” he said of the Central Kingstown MP, who is one of the party’s two vice-presidents.
He said that in 2016, when Leacock placed himself in the leadership ring to succeed then NDP president, East Kingstown MP Arnhim Eustace, “the party machinery and the top echelons of the NDP ganged up against him.
“He knows that, I know that, the whole country knows that..” Gonsalves said, adding that West Kingstown MP, Daniel Cummings — who became NDP chairman during that leadership transition — “was clearly assigned a job as political hatchet man on Leacock.
“On NICE Radio on the NDP-sponsored programme, Cummings declared with the usual venom and anger in his voice, ‘I will not trust Leacock with power. I cannot trust that man. He’s power hungry. He cannot lead the NDP.’ That’s what he said,” Gonsalves said.
He said Cummings “proceeded to damn Leacock in terms no one in the UL P has ever done and I would not — some things they say about him from inside, I wouldn’t even think about saying them to my friend, St. Clair Leacock,” Gonsalves said.
He concluded that “there is no love, love lost between Cummings and Leacock.
“They may grin up with one another for appearances sake, but they loathe each other; no matter who among them may try to dispute this.”
The prime minister said that one year later, Leacock was still in the proverbial “NDP doghouse” when, again, the party machinery the NDP leadership and the fellow traveling internet crazies ganged up against Leacock when he sought the election as one of the two vice presidents of the NDP.”.
Gonsalves said that North Leeward MP, Roland “Patel” Matthews was unopposed for one position and for the second, Leacock was challenged by a political neophyte then Senator Marcia S. Barnwell.
Notwithstanding the prime minister’s comments, the truth of the matter is that both positions were up for election and both Leacock and Matthews, as incumbents were seeking re-election while Barnwell was challenging for one of the seats.
Gonsalves said that Leacock “rightly considered this contestation against him to be insulting and an affront to his dignity.
“He decided to make a bad as the street in Sharpes would say. [NDP president and Opposition Leader] Lorraine Friday hastily and meekly summoned peace talks between Leacock and himself. A peace offering was made by Friday. A tenuous fragile peace was concocted and Leacock was elected as one of the vice presidents.”
Gonsalves said that still, Leacock “is not made to feel welcomed in the very party he has given his all for”.
The ULP leader said it was instructive that earlier this year, Leacock abstained from the vote when the opposition proposed Barnwell to fill the post of Speaker of the House of Assembly.
“Leacock’s supporters within the NDP insist that white shadows run the NDP. They say that the NDP big shots claim that Leacock is too out spoken for their liking on the issue of the influence of race and ethnicity in the NDP.
“The white shadows in the NDP are believed to run the gamut of the financiers of the NDP, the foreign white influencers in the NDP, including those in Bequia for Lorraine Friday, those lining up to sell our country’s passport and citizenship for filthy lucre and historically, the white racists and imperialists hover about this Caribbean.”
Gonsalves said that these “white shadows” “always see the NDP as their natural ally in St. Vincent and Grenadines against the ULP.
“And as you know, for the ULP, Black Lives Matter,” he said.
He said that inside the NDP there are “complaints that Cummings has become uncontrollable.
“His angry and hate-fuelled outbursts are becoming more pronounced. He’s not listening to any restraining voice. His alternating bouts of mellow, dramatic calmness and intemperate angry outbursts worry even the NDP and its supporters.
“Additionally, the pressure from the ULP and Debbie Charles is getting to him in West Kingstown and he no longer has John Horne to help him keep his composure.”
Charles, a ULP senator and former teacher, who boldly told the parliament that at home she is referred to as “Hitler” because of her ability to ferret out information, will make her second attempt to unseat Cummings.
Gonsalves said Cummings “feels besieged and he’s lashing out to all and sundry in and out of his party…”
He further said:
“Among the rest of the NDP, confusion abounds. In the absence of strong leadership from Lorraine Friday, everyone in the top rungs of the NDP is doing his or her own thing.”