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Lewis is no prodigal son

Lewis is no prodigal son

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Dr Linton Lewis’ return to the stomping ground of his birth with the launch of his candidature received a massive response last Saturday night of which the opposition New Democratic Party would be pleased.

The Calliaqua Playing Field was a sea of yellow as the NDP bussed in supporters from the mainland and Bequia to signal to the Unity Labour Party (ULP) that they mean business about wresting this traditional Labour seat from incumbent Clayton Burgin. {{more}}

Dr. Linton Lewis, whose banner calls him “The Achiever”, dug deep into the recesses of his support base as he mounted his challenge. Louis Jones, former parliamentary representative for the area was among those called upon to endorse the challenger. He mounted the rostrum to recall Lewis’ humble beginnings and meteoric rise through sport and education through a double career in finance and law toward obtaining his doctorate.

Another endorsement came from Bert Francois, a long time NDP East St. George campaigner.

But the NDP may have felt particularly pleased with their mini-coup in bringing in from the UWI, Jevorne Williams, the 2004 Miss SVG. Williams, the first recipient of a university scholarship for winning the Miss SVG title, an initiative of the ULP administration, read a lengthy citation on Dr. Lewis to rousing applause from the NDP faithful who crowded the Calliaqua Playing Field. She was embraced and kissed by former Prime Minister Sir James Mitchell, who had joined the platform quietly during the Lewis endorsements and by the man of the moment himself.

The Dr. Linton Lewis show also featured an address by former parliamentarian Allan Cruickshank. He came to tell the rally and the nation that he was “not in anybody’s pockets”, in obvious reference to suggestions that he may have been having second thoughts about supporting NDP. Cruickshank broke rank with a position earlier posited by the NDP’s St. Clair Leacock, who just weeks earlier at a Sion Hill political meeting had urged the faithful not to criticise former party chairman and Attorney General Parnel R. Campbell.

According to Leacock, Campbell had promised to lend his support in the Central Kingstown constituency he formerly represented in parliament and which Leacock intends to contest.

But Saturday night, that position seemed to have been changed as Cruickshank accused Campbell and also former Attorney General under the NDP, Carlyle Dougan, of being “in the ULP’s pockets”. Cruickshank, of whom there has been speculation that he was peeved about being overlooked for South Central Windward seat, made it clear also that he was not running and was firmly in the NDP camp.

But the night belonged to Dr. Linton Lewis. After a rousing welcome during which he was escorted to the podium flanked by party president Arnhim Eustace and Louis Jones, he broke into a dance while his supporters waved Linton Lewis posters and chanted his name.

Dr. Lewis told his audience: “I ask no fatted calf, I am no prodigal son” declaring “ this is my stomping ground.”

He acknowledged that the task of defeating Clayton Burgin was “not going to be an easy one”. He paid tribute to Louis Jones for what he termed, “his achievements in the area” saying that Jones had given “good stewardship.”

But he was magnanimous in paying tribute to the persons who had represented the constituency in the past on both sides of the political divide. Mention was made of the contributions of former Prime Minister and leader of the St. Vincent Labour Party Robert Milton Cato, of Louis Jones and of Lewis’ own brother Stanley “Stalkey” John who represented the area on a Labour Party ticket.

Lewis explained that he had to contest former elections in another constituency because “it was not good for brother to run against brother.” He vowed to endeavour to serve with pride and dignity.

His address though, was one of giving thanks to those who had contributed to his progress. Among them, former teacher and cricket coach Clarence “Paddy” Thomas, who Lewis said, took him to the top of regional cricket from primary school.

Lewis outlined that his vision was to lead the people of the constituency out of poverty. He promised to bring discipline and perseverance to serve the people of East St. George since he intends to be “the first prophet who has honour in his own land”.

The NDP hopeful said he has a vision that every primary school will be outfitted with computers, as computing must be compulsory in schools. He advocated what he termed, “co-operative social enterprise” so people can use their skills to create employment as he asked the residents of the area to give him the opportunity to achieve his vision. He said the ladder of his success was still standing waiting on others to make the climb out of poverty.

As Lewis spoke, Sir James, who was among those thanked during his address sat very pensively, his hand under his chin as though evaluating the impact of his student’s words on the massive crowd.

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