Traitors of Labour will die politically – PM
by Lyf Compton
The Unity Labour Party is the most successful party in the region and any person who parts ways with the organisation is a political corpse.
“Anytime anybody within this Unity Labour Party (ULP), which is a national movement, the heart of the Labour movement and which is a family; and any renegade, any traitor, and any castaway who leaves the Labour family, they are dead politically,” Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves stated on Sunday.
Gonsalves made this statement during the party’s 25th anniversary rally, an event he said was a significant occasion in the political history of the country and region.
Speaking at the tarmac of the decommissioned ET Joshua Airport, the Prime Minister said for the last 25 years, the ULP has had the support of the majority.
“We have been the majority party for 85% of the time we have been in existence. There is no other political party in CARICOM that can boast such a level of political success,” Gonsalves told thousands of people, most dressed in red, the colour of the ULP.
He said the party has had unprecedented success in the 18 and a half years it has been in power because of the way it has been built, on a foundation grounded in the people’s concerns and interests.
“We have had opportunists of different shapes and sizes, but I want to tell you this, you cannot leave the Labour family and say you are interested in the people because the most progressive political movement and organisation in the region, in the CARICOM region, is the Unity Labour Party and the Unity Labour Party government.
“So, if you were to say you interested in people and you become a traitor, a renegade, or a castaway, you are simply an opportunist,” stated Gonsalves.
“And I don’t have to speak about any matter other than to stay steadfast to the principles that Vincent Beache and the Unity Labour Party founders set for us,” Gonsalves said.
While the Prime Minister did not name names, several persons have parted ways with the ULP since it was formed by a merger of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Labour Party and the Movement for National Unity in 1994.
On December 6, 1998, Gonsalves defeated Stanley “Stalky” John, 254-94, to claim the leadership of the ULP. Then, in 2000, John and businessman Ken Boyea, another former member of the ULP, parted ways with the ULP and formed their own party, the People’s Progressive Movement (PPM).
John and Boyea had won their seats in East St George and Central Kingstown respectively in the 1998 elections while members of the ULP, but when they faced the polls on a PPM ticket, they both lost their deposits, having failed to get at least 1/8 of the valid votes cast.
“You would recall that in the year 2000 there are two gentlemen who are persons of substance who thought that they could divide the Labour movement, they went into one election in 2001 and since then, we haven’t heard from them in politics again.
“You do not leave the Labour family and survive if you interested in politics. Not possible because of the way in which we are grounded,” boasted Gonsalves, who is the political leader of the ULP.
Upon mention of people leaving the ULP, members of the crowd began shouting the name of Jomo Thomas, who recently resigned as a member of the Party. Thomas contested the South Leeward seat on a ULP ticket in 2015, losing to Nigel Stephenson of the NDP.
Gonsalves said he was in the political wilderness for a very long time and waited his turn, but the ULP has had one or two opportunists of different ideological shapes and sizes. He noted also that he has no malice against anybody.
Going on, Gonsalves said the ULP is at the heart of the national movement and its members are at the centre of the labour movement.
He said some “sell out labour leaders”, for political reasons, may oppose the ULP but they are opposing a party which defends the working people and they are acting against their own members’ interest.
“…and Labour will remain steadfast for the working people of this country,” stated Gonsalves.
Another person who parted ways with the party in the last few years is accountant Kirk DaSilva who expressed an interest in being the ULP candidate in Marriaqua in 2015 but was rejected in favour of St Clair “Jimmy” Prince in the run-off.
About three months before the December 13, 2010 general elections, Ernesto Cooke, then a news announcer on We FM, approached Prime Minister Gonsalves and sought to be the ULP candidate for the constituency of South Leeward. His bid was unsuccessful, and he later joined the ranks of the NDP. He is now back with the ULP.
Other political voices like Matthew Thomas, Junior Bacchus and Anesia Baptiste once supported the ULP but now are affiliated with other parties. Michelle Fife ran on a ULP ticket in West Kingstown in 2010 and also seems to have parted ways with the ULP. Frank DaSilva was once an outspoken NDP activist, he is now doing the same for the ULP.
On Sunday, Gonsalves said that Sir Vincent’s insight and humility brought the two parties together and from beginning, the group had a people centered vision.
He said that after 18 and a half years in power and 25 years in existence there are still a few social problems that exist, but they are being addressed.
“Despite all the progress we have made in reducing poverty and indigence there are still pockets of real hardship in our country ad that is why we have fashioned additional programs to address these things.
“What we have achieved in 18.5 years, the international experts will tell you that no other government in the region and the hemisphere has done so much to reduce indigence and strengthen people for the way forward,” Gonsalves said.