The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers! Now before anyone suggests I am here advocating the violent eradication of a particularly virulent strain of vector, please be informed that a character in Henry IV it was that first hit on the notion that humanity’s welfare depended on the urgent elimination of certain professionals. Obviously, Mama Shakespeare made no fool!
And now we’ve cleared that smokescreen, I can’t help noting that even when we were still chained to Britain’s ankles lawyers controlled this Rock of Sages: all but two of our prime ministers since George Charles ruled the roost were members of The Bar, not to be confused with The Rock’s watering holes that are as ubiquitous as STEP consultants. And now, my first question: would our country be in such dire straits had our forebears been savvy enough to recognize that only the irreversibly imbecilic would place their own and their children’s destinies in the slippery hands of lawyers; especially politically ambitious lawyers?
Which brings up another matter that I should quickly get out of the way before I write another sentence. It concerns our nose-to-butt porcine relationship with politicians.
How did we ever allow ourselves to be hoodwinked into believing they ever were seriously interested in securing better days for we the people? From where did that notion spring? How many of us ever bothered to look up the definition of politician? Why did millions of us over the years, your not-so-humble servant among them, presume to know it?
Feeling particularly stupid this week (not to say highly insulted!) thanks to recent events, I looked up the word and almost fainted from the shock of discovery: “One who holds or seeks political office.”
What’s so shocking about that? Not much, dear colleague cynic. But then, please try not to understand me too quickly. We know the devil resides in the details. Let us, therefore, examine the rest of the definition: “One who seeks partisan gain—often by scheming and maneuvering.” And what does the dictionary say about someone given to “scheming?” It defines him (or his colleagues in bras) as a person who “makes plans, especially secret and devious ones,” and offers this example of usage: “Scheming their revenge . . .”
As for maneuver: “Artful handling of affairs that is often marked by scheming [that word again!] and deceit.” Maneuver is synonymous with “artifice,” which is defined as “subtle but base deception; trickery.”
Aha! Now, tell me, dear reader: had you known all of the above—that your present parliamentary representative was secretly a scheming maneuverer, prone to deception and trickery—would you have handed him the key to your House anyway?
But let us not entrust all our faith in just one dictionary. This is how a second defines politician: “A person who gives most of his time to political affairs; a person active in politics chiefly for his own profit or that of his party.”
So I repeat: if you knew then what now you know, would you still have trusted a politician with your daughter or son’s future? Would you still have trusted his or her promises of jobs-jobs-jobs and no gambling dens on this Christian Rock of Sages?
You would? Why am I not surprised? After all, we are a God-fearing nation convinced good can come of evil, especially such as present themselves as “lesser evils.” We also believe in obeah and chembois and miracles. Yes, in this highly technological age!
Still I ask: What is there about our present crop of politicians, red, yellow (the colors of danger and cowardice) and other colors in-between that bring out the worst in us?
We are not above hating close relatives and best friends to benefit politicians recently introduced to us. We will readily do irreparable damage to our own future, not to say the land that gave us birth—just so politicians might gain a seat in parliament, despite that by definition they are natural-born schemers, deceitful and altogether untrustworthy.
What is it about us that the only colors we recognize are related to what passes here for politics? You and I know the answer has nothing to do with glasses, blood-tinted or the color of pus. The inconvenient answer has everything to do with our palpable stupidity.
Consider this week’s shenanigans inside and outside our House of Assembly! No, I will not put you through all of that again (much of what went on last Wednesday and was repeated this week can be read elsewhere in this issue).
I want just to touch on the Richard Frederick saga. (Greater detail will in due course follow.) If I may be permitted once more to repeat myself: In the 2006 general elections, the United Workers Party under the near-death legendary John Compton, would not have been even a factor without Richard Frederick.
As hard as it is for some to swallow this bitter pill, the indisputable truth is that Richard Frederick had not only resuscitated the 1997-devastated UWP but he also had infused it with fresh blood and a new determination to teach the arrogant SLP leader a lesson he still has not gotten over.
The popular determination was not inspired by the UWP’s slate of candidates. It proceeded from Frederick, the party’s awakened followers, and others whose collective mind was made up about Kenny Anthony. Naturally, the SLP stood to suffer; but only collaterally. The main target had always been Kenny Anthony!
But let us not fool ourselves. The UWP’s honchos never wanted Frederick aboard their ship. Not Compton, not Ausbert d’Auvergne. Not any of his fellow candidates.
Not even Stephenson King had welcomed Richard Frederick, of whom John Compton, prior to the Castries Central by-election, had said: “I wouldn’t touch him with a barge pole!” Even after Frederick’s easy victory, the best Compton could manage was: “You want him, I give him to you.” Something about that reminds me of a certain Pontius Pilate!
Frederick was accepted finally out of convenience—an umbrella word like none other. Leaving him out in the cold would’ve been, in the UWP’s dire state, like cutting out the party’s heart.
In his 2006 circumstances Compton amounted to little more than embalmer cosmetics. An excuse for the presumed elite, since-1997 staunch Labour supporters, to desert without feeling guilty about choosing the meretricious ghetto rat and “worst prospect” over their once pristine Kenny.
No one knew this better than Richard Frederick, whose popularity had less to do with the man himself (and his, er, open wallet) than with hatred for the day’s prime minister. Was the widespread animus merited?
How is me uhn?
How do I know all of this? How do you know where your bedroom is located? Convenient doubters are free to check the validated details in my hardly free book Lapses & Infelicities.
According to a U.S. Embassy cable leaked by Wikileaks, the recently re-elected Compton had assured the visiting U.S. ambassador that “things are in place to guarantee Richard Frederick never rises to power in this party.”
The same source repeated similar assurances by Ausbert d’Auvergne. No need to go into Frederick’s relationship with Jeanine Compton and her closest relatives.
Have we forgotten? Has Frederick forgotten about the combined effort of his Cabinet colleagues and other brethren to dispose of him before the 2011 elections?
Has he forgotten how convinced had been front-line members of the UWP they would be handing the election to Labour if Frederick was permitted on Polling Day to wear yellow?
So, then, how ironic. . . indeed, how absolutely ridiculous to hear Frederick say this week, possibly for the hundredth time since all hell broke loose between him and the Chastanet-led UWP, that Sir John must be “rolling over in his grave?”
Could Frederick have forgotten it was Compton, yes, albeit an enfeebled Sir John, presumably with the acquiescence of his Cabinet and eminence grise Ausbert d’Auvergne, who had made Allen Chastanet a senator in 2006, and not we the people via our polling booths?
Have we all forgotten it was Compton and his Cabinet (Richard Frederick included) who had handed the tourism ministry carte blanche to Chastanet? On what was that collective decision based, if not on Chastanet’s impressive, suddenly highly controversial, history with the jazz festival and other tax-funded initiatives?
For crissakes, Chastanet the Father and Chastanet the Son were hardly unknown quantities! Could both the UWP and the SLP have been wrong about the “ambassador-at-large” and the inventor of our annual jazz fest? I will attempt down the road to answer this last question.
Suffice it to say at this time that throughout Frederick’s condemnation this week of the UWP that finally had succeeded where Sir John had failed, Kenny Anthony remained impassive.
Could the prime minister have been mentally revisiting his own party’s countless internecine wars, for which regular Saint Lucians, regardless of political stripe, had literally paid through their noses?
Could he have been morosely contemplating the departed “Great Satan,” over whose corpse he had reportedly shed tears, whether of regret or, as some insist, of the reptilian variety? Was Kenny revisiting what Frederick knows that he knows that Frederick knows?
At this week’s House session Kenny Anthony left Frederick little room for conjecture. The Castries Central MP had barely touched on the day’s bill when suddenly he switched from assault mode to pussycat.
“I see the prime minister has put on his red light,” he chuckled mirthlessly. “I guess that’s my signal to shut up and sit down!”
And that he did. As had Robert Lewis and Alvina Whatshername before him!