Central Kingstown MP, St. Clair Leacock says he does not believe that some of the activities taking place in St. Vincent and the Grenadines indicate that general elections are on the horizon, two years after the last vote, as some people have speculated.
Leacock, who is acting as president of the main opposition New Democratic Party in the absence of party leader, Godwin Friday, who is overseas, said that an early election is a “risk” that Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves would not take.
He was asked, on Monday, to comment on the view that the fact that the government has imported a large shipment of construction material is an indication that it is readying for a general election.
“There are things that are interesting, but when you are seasoned politicians, you have to be able to separate the trees from the forest,” said Leacock, who is into a third five-year term as an elected MP.
“And a good point to do that is always to be biblical in your approach. Make sure that there’s oil in your lamp,” he said, referring to the Bible story about the five “foolish virgins” who did not prepare extra oils for their lamps and were caught unprepared when the bridegroom arrived.
“Yeah, you have to make sure there’s always oil in your lamp — and for any eventuality.”
Leacock said that ahead of the last general elections, which came in November 2020, just over a month shy of the full five-year term, people were speculating about an early poll.
“Sir James [Mitchell] would say to me more than one time, ‘No prime minister don’t give up three year for an election’,” Leacock said, referring to the former prime minister and NDP founder, who died last December.
“We haven’t even finished the second year,” Leacock noted. “And Ralph, more than anybody, knows that his party is not in a state of readiness. The winds are not behind his sails. And so, it’s a risk…
“What does all of this mean — the movement of cement, lumber, galvanise and what else we don’t know?” Leacock said and reiterated that the prime minister “ain’t going take the risk” of an early poll.
“… you have to understand the calculus,” Leacock said and went on to give his reading of the electoral map.
He said the Grenadines are two NDP seats, adding that Gonsalves’ North Central Windward seat — which he has been representing since 1994 — is in the ULP column.
“Even though he’s lost support, he still has to lose a lot more. And Chieftain [Neptune] breathing down his back,” Leacock said, referring to the NDP’s candidate in the district in the 2020 poll.
He said that East Kingstown was also considered the NDP’s “Rock of Gibraltar” in St. Vincent, having stayed in the NDP column since 1984.
“So those four seats are fairly decided before an election is called and Fitz [Bramble] is growing in East Kingstown,” he said, referring to the MP for the area, who is into his first five-year term.
“So, if 11 seats are up for grabs and you want to win them, somebody needs to win six seats on mainland St. Vincent.”
He said that in St. Vincent, the NDP has Central Kingstown, West Kingstown, South Leeward.
“We must identify which is the other three [we can win]. If we lost North Leeward by one [vote], we should say that is one we can win back. If you’re growing as fast as Shevern [John] is growing, in North Windward, you should say that is one we should win back.
“That’s five. you are looking for another one. Whether is out of the St. Georges or Marriaqua, or build back somewhere. I don’t like call names because people does get vex with me,” Leacock said.
“But that’s the dynamic, that’s the maths, that the calculus and we start to rationalise it because they know, and you will see it when election comes, we got the majority votes in the last election, we will have even bigger majorities in the next election. But that still wouldn’t cut it. What will cut is that we have the majority of constituencies.”
Leacock said that the NDP, therefore, has to be constituency-focused “and mitigate the thiefing and the cheating because they have perfected that, they have perfected thiefng and cheating, so that’s what we have to do in the next election”.
He said it means that every NDP representative or caretaker “now must be on the bridge. They must be on the wheel. And we must not allow ourselves to hide behind fake beliefs and default votes.
“Let’s be out front. Let’s lead by example. Let us be visible and present in our constituency.”
He said that NDP MPs and constituency caretakers must be visible and present in the constituency and the electorate must perceive them “as doing political work.
You can’t fool people. People know when you’re working and when you’re not working. So, be seen, be visible and be doing political work, the handshakes, the ‘How thee do?’, the funeral attendance, the wedding attendance, the rum shop, the guys on the blocks, all the emotional attachments that helps strengthen and fortify you.
“The radio programme such as yours and the other radio programs will come, the social media platforms, all the conversations, being at social events, football, netball, wherever people meet and greet — fish market — and congregate.
“We have to have high profile so that the electorate knows what you stand for. Whether, they like or dislike you, at least they know what you stand for, they know what your policies, they know what your principles and you’re could put it out there.”
Leacock said that the party’s activities on the weekend show that “the enthusiasm factor is high.
“There is momentum in the New Democratic Party. On the other side, Labour ain’t dey in. They’re dead in the water. They have a single voice… There is disillusion, disaffection, a single voice, King Ralph”.