The views expressed herein are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views on One News St. Vincent.
Dear Editor, I have been a supporter of the Labour Party since 1979. My first encounter with Labour was with the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Labour Party under the leadership of Robert Milton Cato in the St. Georges, and then the Unity Labour Party – a merger between SVGLP and the Movement for National Unity – MNU.
I have been watching the current leadership race for the party, and I hope in the leadership race happening for the ULP that Mr. Orando Brewster is not overlooked.
The two front-runners for deputy political leader of the ruling Unity Labour Party are said to be Saboto Caesar and Camillo Gonsalves who is the son of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
Both Caesar and Gonsalves, though they have been in the party as elected members of Parliament (from 2010 in the case of Caesar and 2015 in the case of Gonsalves), they both narrowly won their seats in the last general election which showed a national swing away from the ULP.
Though both have been tested and tried to some extent through the work in their various ministries, there is evidently less enthusiasm towards them and a lack of charisma sufficient to even rally the ULP base at a period when the party is at one of its lowest points politically.
Furthermore, neither Caesar nor young Gonsalves have been able to differentiate themselves from the mold of Dr. Ralph Gonsalves who has long reached his saturation point in terms of popularity and who is in clear political decline from wear and tear from his political journey and supporter fatigue.
Before I get to my reasons why Brewster should be the next deputy leader, let’s look at the other options in the party.
A quick scan or a deep one would show that no one else has the political acumen or anointing or even presence to set themselves apart.
Cutis King is a man of the people, but he is yet to give us a glimpse of his political acumen. Jimmy Prince is a good team player in a very strong labour constituency and with a heavy ministerial portfolio, but can he inspire across the political fence?
Frederick Stevenson is on his way out and so is Montgomery Daniel. Carlos James won by one vote in a constituency where voter behavior is sometimes peculiar or unpredictable.
That leaves us with the one man, the only winner on the government side of the house of assembly whose constituency recorded a positive swing when there was a national swing away from the party – that man is Orando Brewster.
Mr. Brewster is also currently the only labour minister at the moment who can comfortably appeal to the large base of Christian voters in the country. Before him, in that capacity, were former Deputy Prime Ministers – Girlyn Miguel and then Sir Louis Straker.
Mr. Brewster is also young and relatable. He is a cool head and the only personality in the ULP of present that can comfortably inspire people from both sides of the political fence.
He is from the bowels of the people in a constituency that has been won by the Labour Party since 1994. He has also demonstrated that he is not a “yes man” and can think outside of the mold of Ralph Gonsalves, while respecting the collective conscience of the party.
He is the only real “fresh blood” at the moment in the ULP and though he has less ministerial experience when compared to the other front runners, it is clear that with all the other factors in his favour would outweigh that issue. After all, Dickon Mitchell in Grenada is now prime minister having assumed leadership of the NDC in October of 2021 – young, fresh, and new.
When charismatic leaders like Ralph Gonsalves go, there is usually a big shoe to fill because those leaders usually leave with their magic, leaving a void in their respective parties. Those who try to continue their legacies usually can’t as they lack the same political anointing.
The ULP does not need another Ralph Gonsalves and choosing Saboto Caesar or Camillo Gonsalves is essentially producing another Gonsalves. Ralph Gonsalves’ tenure as a once in a generation charismatic leader will end and so will his mold, his magic and his political anointing.
The ULP needs a new leader who can save the party and inspire the country in a different way. That new leader has to be the same person who sacrificed himself and his medical career and contested the 2020 general election and scored the lone positive swing. That person is none other than Orando Brewster.
The only other match up that might come close is Mr. Curtis King.
The biggest question though is whether Mr. Brewster is interested in the race, or whether he thinks he is personally ready for the task.
If he is, I for one will go and make sure my dues are paid up at the party office so that I can qualify as a delegate to cast a vote for him at the upcoming July 31 convention.
By Old Labour Stalwart