Advertisement 87
Advertisement 323
Andrew John holds up a key, the symbol of the New Democratic Party, while surrounded by (from left) former candidate, Noel Dickson, NDP Leader Godwin Friday, and John’s wife, Cheryl John, at his launch in Biabou, on Saturday, March 9, 2024.
Andrew John holds up a key, the symbol of the New Democratic Party, while surrounded by (from left) former candidate, Noel Dickson, NDP Leader Godwin Friday, and John’s wife, Cheryl John, at his launch in Biabou, on Saturday, March 9, 2024.
Advertisement 219

Retired educator Andrew John on Saturday used his inaugural address as the opposition New Democratic Party’s (NDP) candidate for South Windward to announce his report card on the ruling Unity Labour Party’s performance in the constituency.

“I give a failing grade to the representation that we have been getting here in South Windward. Fail! And they have to respect that ‘F’,” he told a meeting in Biabou where he was launched as the NDP’s candidate for the next general elections, constitutionally due by February 2026.

Earlier in the event, Israel Bruce, one of the party’s senators and candidate for South Central Windward, encouraged John to “beat and teach” in the election, echoing the words of a popular Jamaican dancehall song.

John picked up on this line early in his speech

“I am here tonight to let you know that change is coming to this land; change is coming to South Windward, and Andrew John is going to make sure that it happens here,” he said.

Advertisement 271

“I was a teacher; I was a principal and they told you I would give some licks and so on and I’m supposed to be giving some more licks.

“But before I give the licks. I also did a lot of assessments during my work. And I have assessed this present government that we have and have given them a resounding failing grade for their performance over these years; failing grade,” John said.  

He said the ULP, which came to office in 2001 has “left us the people behind.

“They have left us in South Windward behind and they have taken us for granted and thinking that at election time they will come and dance with us and hug us, they will come and bring all kinds of galvanise and nonsense and telling us they’re buying our vote. But it’s not your vote they are buying; they are buying your children’s future.”

Andrew John 1
NDP candidate for South Windward, Andrew John, speaks at his launching in Biabou on Saturday, March 9, 2024.

John said it pierces his heart to see young people on the street unemployed.

“Intelligent boys and girls who we have taught, who come out of school, who you have put so much effort, so much money into. And then at the end of the day, they can’t get meaningful employment, they can’t get meaningful training. It is only for the chosen few. It is time for us to realise that our children here in South Windward are suffering, our young people are suffering and we are going to stop it. It has to stop.”

John said he is going to ensure that it stops.

“You think I get involved and come here for joke? When I come here, it is saying to you that I mean business, and I need us to work together to ensure that we change what is happening in our country right now.”

South Windward has been in the Labour fold since 1994, when Burton Williams, its then MP, broke ranks with the party and ran as an independent candidate.

Vincent Beache of the St. Vincent Labour Party won the seat, which the NDP has failed in its efforts to retake since then, including in 2010, when Williams was the NDP’s candidate.

Since 1989, the NDP’s best showing in the constituency was in 2020, when Noel Dickson, on his second attempt, came within 219 votes of taking the seat, down from 759 in 2015.

At Saturday’s launch, Dickson symbolically handed over a large wooden key, the NDP’s symbol, to John, signalling the passing of the baton and endorsement of his candidacy.

John said he had come to the meeting with a list of things that show how South Windward has been neglected.

“If you visit some of our roads in our constituency, it is deplorable. They are deplorable. I try going into a place called Chilli … Simon breaking away; breaking away in Simon. I went to Diamond. Is dirt you’re walking on,” John said.

“That is what we have been working 23 years to produce? Since the wife brought me to South Windward, it’s one of the most beautiful places that I have been,” said John, who grew up in Evesham, Marriaqua.

“We have so much potential here in South Windward. We have the International Airport in the mix. What are we getting as a spin-off from it? Look at Biabou. Biabou should be a town. They should be working here building Biabou so that we could be making money,” he said.

“What are they doing? They are barring the money from us; we’re not making anything. And then what they do, they are chasing you from the roadside where you’re making a good honest dollar.”

Andrew John 3
The launching of Andrew John, NDP candidate for South Windward, in Biabou on Saturday, March 9, 2024.

John said he had spoken to a man who vends on the roadside.  

“And the man had tears in his eyes explaining to me that they broke down his thing. And he tried build it back. They come and they gave him seven days’ notice to remove it.”

He said the government then erected “a poster” where the vending stall was.

“… they break down the business, mash up the business, and put up a poster there for us to look at. So, maybe when we look at that we could get food to send our children to school. It is ridiculous what is happening, and we must put a stop to it.”

He said that the NDP has plans in place for the nation’s children and young people ‘because right now, if we continue down this road, it is misery we are going to reap and we can’t afford that.

“So let us get together and start putting plans in place to build the skills of our young people. Let us start teaching them skills to live by. We have our young men and women, after leaving school, at home, unemployed when there are no plumbers, there are no electricians.”

John said a friend recently told him that he is working on the construction of a hotel and “the people who working with him, he can’t understand what they’re saying. They’re talking some kind of language.

“These are the people they’re bringing to work and we are right here not being able to earn a living. People, we have to make serious choices. Well, there’s one choice come next election. Come next election — and somebody said they better call it tomorrow — … we are going to put them out, we are going to vote them out of office. We are going to fire them.”