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New NDP recruit refuses to respond to PM’s jabs

New NDP recruit refuses to respond to PM’s jabs

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Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves may have won the first round by default, as opposition politician Dr Julian “Jules” Ferdinand refuses to respond to his jabs.{{more}}

Ferdinand, who the New Democratic Party (NDP) recently selected to represent the party in West St George in the next election there, told SEARCHLIGHT he does not intend to respond to questions Gonsalves asked on Sunday.

The prime minister has a strategy and so does he, said Ferdinand, who has not said much about his political philosophies since his selection in October.

Gonsalves, speaking at the Unity Labour Party’s convention on Sunday, said he had a number of questions for Ferdinand, including two about his tenure at the helm of the Eastern Caribbean Group of Companies (ECGC) and his late entry into politics.

“All the years he say he ain’t getting involved in politics, he said he already reached that stage – he gone past that and you are at the autumnal years of your life, he coming now. He coming now to do what?” the prime minister asked.

Gonsalves also commented on the NDP’s candidate for North Windward, Lauren Baptiste, saying that he had nothing to bring to the table.

He further said he was confident that ULP would defeat Baptiste at the next general elections, constitutionally due in 2015.

But St Claire Leacock, an NDP vice-president, defended the two NDP candidates on Monday on the NDP’s “New Times” on NICE Radio.

Leacock, who is also Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown, said he did not hear Gonsalves’ comments.

But he said it should not have come as any surprise that Gonsalves would swipe at new NDP candidates.

“From all reports [the people] welcome Dr Ferdinand to the fray with loud applause,” Leacock said.

“You don’t normally get people coming into a political race getting a 10 out of 10. He got that. Of course it takes a Ralph Gonsalves to find something bad about Jules Ferdinand,” he continued.

Leacock further said that based on what was being said, Baptiste was doing well in North Windward.

“He has a lot of contact with the young people. They are rallying support behind him – his solid base in agriculture and community work and his programme is attracting more and more people,” Leacock added.

“He (Baptiste) has a large family coming out of Sandy Bay, so that must be a worry to him (Gonsalves). He is knocking on doors and that is the way you do your politics,” the Opposition parliamentarian further said.

And one can expect that there will be more negative statements to be made, Leacock said.

“Because that is the nature of the beast; he has no use for anyone except himself and his party,” he said of Gonsalves.

‘MORE SHAME’

Truth be told, Leacock said, there was more shame on the Government’s side.

“I don’t believe that one has to make him or herself look good in politics by getting into name-calling and character assassination and the vilification that is experienced on the other side,” he said.

He further commented only the prime minister and Senator Julian Francis from the Government side debated the 2013 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, on December 4.

No one else sold the Government’s programmes, Leacock charged.

“I think that is where the shame lies and he should explain why he micromanages, so emasculates the men and women on his side that after he talks, no … dog barks.

“Or on the other hand they feel so terrified that they don’t feel comfortable enough to demonstrate an understanding and/or appreciation of what the Estimates means to good governance.

“How can you then talk about good governance after this? How do you proceed after an absence of participation in the Estimates?” he questioned.

Something is fundamentally wrong and that was where the prime minister needed to focus his attention, Leacock said.

“To peep in his own bowl, rather than to steer and direct other people’s business — the New Democratic Party is clear on where we want to go,” Leacock said.

He added that members of the Opposition would have more to say during the Budget debate, which begins on January 14, 2013.

In the meantime, he advised Baptiste and Ferdinand not to counteract the prime minister “by rolling in the gutter with him”. (DD)

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