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Eustace rebukes Leacock for ‘undisciplined approach’

Eustace rebukes Leacock for ‘undisciplined approach’

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Major St Clair Leacock, who last December said he could not continue to be a victim of friendly fire from supporters of the New Democratic Party (NDP), has been rebuked for shots he fired in relation to his party’s senatorial appointments.

The rebuke has come from former president of the NDP Arnhim Eustace, who in a statement read on Nice Radio on Monday, said he was troubled by Leacock’s public expression of displeasure that Israel Bruce, the NDP’s candidate for South Central Windward, had again been overlooked for appointment as a senator.

After the NDP announced last week that Kay Bacchus-Baptiste had replaced Dr Julian Ferdinand as a senator, Leacock, on radio on November 22, congratulated Bacchus-Baptiste, but said if he could have his way, he would have also replaced Senator Marcia ‘Zita’ Barnwell and given that spot to Bruce.

“NDP has to make sure that it is not a political party that defeats itself,” Leacock, a vice-president of the party and parliamentary representative for Central Kingstown, said.

Saying that he realizes the decision about senatorial appointments was that of the president, he said he had a right as a vice-president of the NDP and a leader in politics in St Vincent and the Grenadines to express himself.

These statements are not sitting too well with Eustace, who called Leacock’s approach indisciplined.

“This undisciplined approach is contributing to a breakdown in the united approach that distinguishes the NDP from other parties in the present circumstances,” said Eustace, who stepped down as president of the NDP in October 2016.

“I have listened to the recent pronouncement about the senatorial position currently occupied by Miss Zita Barnwell. The making of public comments that emanate from outside of the party executive, outside the NDP parliamentary caucus and the other New Democratic Party organs is the right of those to express them. Those comments, however, that are made from within the party by senior members are most inappropriate,” said Eustace.

The former NDP president, who appointed Barnwell as senator in December 2015, said any views held by Leacock about Barnwell’s appointment should be shared internally with the Leader of the Opposition Dr Godwin Friday.

“I wish to remind Major St Clair Leacock that as vice-president of the party and as a member of the parliamentary caucus, he is aware that Opposition senators serve solely at the pleasure of the Leader of the Opposition. Any views he holds about Senator Barnwell’s appointment can be shared internally with the Leader of the Opposition.

“We must at all times respect that the decision as to who serves as senator is the province of the Leader of the Opposition,” stressed Eustace.

But Leacock, responding to Eustace’s chastisement, said on radio on Wednesday, that he has always been well-guarded, responsible and mature with what he has to say.

“All that I say is in the interest of the party and the accountability that I have to Central Kingstown.”

He said while Eustace shared publicly his comments in respect to his (Leacock’s) performance and conduct, he was not going to give anyone, in particular those on the opposite side of the political fence, any opportunity to report that [he had] said, “ABCD about the Honourable Mr Eustace.”

“I am who I am. I have respect for him that I gained over many years and it doesn’t require reciprocity. Eustace doesn’t have to love me; he doesn’t have to care about me; he doesn’t have to agree with me; he doesn’t have to support me for me to hold him in high esteem and for me to hold him in high regard,” Leacock said.

He said what is important to him is that as a member of the same political party, they pull in the same direction for the same reason.

“I am capable of offering defence of myself. No one has to come and validate me as a responsible person,” said Leacock, who added that his record, as it relates to where he has served and in the organizations that he has served, is testament to that fact.

“I have not parachuted into any organization that I have joined. I have worked from the bottom up, including in the NDP, where I have been vice-president for nearly 17 years; I have worked myself to the top,” offered Leacock, which some see as a thinly veiled criticism of Eustace, who was given leadership of the NDP by Sir James Mitchell in 2000, after serving as parliamentary representative of East Kingstown for just over two years.

Leacock said he is always mindful of his shortcomings, but the NDP family and in particular the people of Central Kingstown can be assured that at all times, he has their best interest at heart and would work assiduously and uncompromisingly to ensure that they have an improved and better life.

“I do not stay on anywhere, politics included, longer than is necessary,” said Leacock on Wednesday.

In December 2016, a few weeks after Friday was elected leader of the NDP, Leacock came under attack on radio and social media from some members of the party, one of whom said he was “crying over spilt milk.” Leacock referred to these attacks as friendly fire, of which he said he would not indefinitely be a victim.(LC)

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