We’ve heard it time and again. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. And to his credit, United Workers Party leader, Allen Chastanet, seemed determined to embrace that epithet. When asked if he had any comment on the honourable Castries Central representative, Richard Frederick basically calling the party executive a bunch of losers, Chastanet’s response was a glacial stare followed by a terse ‘no.’
In case you missed recent episodes of ‘As the Party Turns’, Frederick appears increasingly unhappy with certain UWP members and has been quite vocal about it. He recently skipped the party’s 50th anniversary rally and fired verbal shots at Chastanet, labelling him a failure who attracts likewise, and subsequently threatened by successes like Frederick. The dissention has even led to speculation that Frederick may be (gasp!) defecting to the opposition St. Lucia Labour Party.
Pressed further for comment, Chastanet resolutely remained above the fray and carefully avoided this fishing expedition. But Castries Southeast MP Guy Joseph happily, and unsurprisingly, took the bait and went along for the ride.
“It is what you define as success. Success is measured in many different ways. So if you can define success for me in this case I will be happy. Because when you tell me persons are a failure, a failure in what? Because somebody has accumulated 100 million dollars in their life and another person has accumulated 10 million does not mean that the person who has accumulated 100 million is more successful than the person who accumulated 10 million.”
Joseph went on to praise his party leader’s business acumen.
“And if anybody says that Mr. Chastanet only attracts failures, how come he is a successful businessman? How come he has a track record of their companies being some of the most successful in Saint Lucia? Because remember, you don’t do business with one person. No business is a standalone business. So the very idea that he wants to attract failures does not count. Because it is only success that breeds success.”
Never at a loss for words and not one to shy away from an opportunity to point out the administration’s foibles, Joseph deftly steered talk back to the SLP’s shortcomings.
“If you’re talking about failures I will tell you I see where the failure is. The failure is in the Labour Party and it is reflected in the state of the economy. When I drive into Castries and from the top of Chaussee Road at 11 o’clock in the morning, I look down the street and I don’t see a single car, this says a lot. When I can drive into Castries and I can find a parking spot this says a lot about the economy. So I know where failure is and I know where success is and I can tell you. The UWP has the best track record of success in government and I am not associated with failure. I am associated with success.”
The public fallout is a far cry from the united front the party has tried to present ever since the ousting of former leader, Stephenson King, last year. However, Joseph was quick to dismiss talk of disorganization within their ranks.
“Why do you think the UWP’s house is not in order? I’ve told the government, is one simple way to deal with this: call elections. That’s the only time you know how ready and how much things are in order. This thing about people worried about who’s going to do this, there’s no need to worry about that. There is process, and due process is being followed within the ranks of the United Workers Party. So can Allen Chastanet decide who runs Central Castries? No. Can Oswald Augustin? No. Can Guy Joseph? No. The people of Central Castries will ultimately influence who runs on their behalf. So if anybody should be talking to anybody, talk to the people of Central Castries. They will tell you who will run.”
Perhaps bolstered by Joseph’s verbal avalanche, Chastanet finally decided to wade into the murky waters.
“When we talk about political failure, look at what’s happened when we’ve had conventions in the past. The position of running for leader has been open to everyone. The position of running for deputy leaders. Did Richard Frederick, when he ran for deputy leader, did he win? And that was supposedly the peak of his popularity. The fact is, there is a process in which there is over three hundred delegates that choose the executive of the party.”
Chastanet elaborated on his decision to steer clear of the mudslinging which has overshadowed the UWP’s attempts to modernize the party, including the recent opening of new offices, revamped social media sites, and improved communication lines.
“Going out in public doesn’t achieve anything. Anybody who believes that they have a different route they think the party should go to, you need to go and convince the delegates of that. And the fact is Richard has not been able to do that so far. In fact, when we had the convention, the strategy of the new executive was overwhelmingly supported and I’d like to think that we have been keeping to the requirements. So as I said, the comments being made by the honourable Richard Frederick, I don’t respond to them in public.”
Nope. Only in a room full of journalists and reporters, armed with video cameras and recording devices. Nothing to worry about, right?