He may not have quite the government he had hoped for when he twice went to the polls last month, but it was an unbowed pugnacious John Compton that followed the education minister and Micoud North MP Louis George at the podium, at last Sunday’s thank-you rally, before a monster crowd of jubilant supporters. Dressed in dazzling calypso shirt and tan slacks, Mr. Compton started out by setting the record straight on a matter touched on earlier by Mr. George.
“I said this would be my last term,” he recalled. “But I am not going to leave to live the rest of my life under any group other than the United Workers Party when I know the government and our party are in good hands.” He expressed amazement at the numbers that had turned up for the rally. “People talk about the 9-8 election result,” he said, “but these numbers relate only to the House. The important question is: How many people support the United Workers Party? We have 27,000 supporters; the Labour Party has 18,000. We have 9,000 voters more and if we had placed 500 of them in every constituency, we’d have won the whole election. All seventeen of us would’ve won.”
As if in acknowledgement of Louis George’s earlier observation (that the people of Micoud North had for too long been neglected by their own party), their leader said: “In this area we have left things undone while doing much for the opposition constituencies. We have brought them electricity while our supporters remained in the dark. We have left Micoud without roads and built them for those who don’t support us. What has been the result? At election time they vote Labour. This time around we’ll keep those who support us happy.” He identified and thanked UWP areas that he said had “come out strong, strong for us.” From now on, he promised them, “ours will come first.”
He was especially passionate when he turned his attention to the public service: “You can’t have a man attacking a minister to his face, in public, and then return to work the next day, business as usual. You’ll soon hear the news. I will deal with those vipers. When you are in the civil service you’re not supposed to openly take part in partisan politics. You have a choice, to be a politician or to do the job you are paid out of the public purse to do. When I deal with them and they start to keep noise and I call on you, I want you to demonstrate your support of the government’s action. It is an action I must take; I must clean out this nest of vipers. I will not retire and leave you at the mercy of these vipers. I will clean out the nest before I go.”
Postscript: The more things change . . . The current UWP administration has often echoed its departed leader, albeit in far more careful language. Alas, cleaning out “the nest of vipers” is today a far more complicated matter than in 1987. In all events, Compton never carried out his threat—if indeed it was a threat and not just his way of pacifying complaining party supporters and impatient newcomer Louis George!