It was only a matter of time—and time alone will tell whether or not Jeannine Compton’s abrupt resignation at the weekend will prove the disaster that for almost four years many suspected had been waiting to happen. Doubtless there are those who took the lady at her word when recently she renewed her loyalty vow to the party that her father created back in 1964, having earlier broken away from the Labour Party then led by George Charles. Not all of Jeannine’s colleagues were among the believers. Some had been expressing openly their suspicions that, expressions of party loyalty be damned, the lady represented an election risk not worth taking: that should the results of the next elections turn out to be closer than they hoped chances are Jeannine would follow the example of former Labour stalwart Neville Cenac who crossed the floor to give Daddy Compton the majority denied him by the electorate in 1987.
Meanwhile, all eyes were on Jeannine, as were ears that heard in her House and private pronouncements warnings they dared not ignore. Further fuelling the suspicions were rumors in high places that she had decided not to entertain certain party colleagues
on her platform come the next general elections—which is to say neither could they count on her to support their own campaigns. Some among her political brethren considered Jeannine an ingrate who showed no appreciation for the support that had guaranteed her run-off victory over a far better qualified George Daniel, who, at the behest of their party—and in advance of any declared interest by Jeannine in replacing her father as the MP for Micoud North—had interrupted his life overseas to prepare for the by-election brought about by Sir John’s demise.
Jeannine’s sometimes blistering criticism of government policy, some in place since her father’s earliest days, cut deep. And while her government and party colleagues never retaliated, at any rate, not publicly, there remained between them an ocean of boiling bad blood. Insiders claim Jeannine and her mother’s open refusal to endorse the government’s intention to honor Sir John’s memory with a statue amounted to multiple Brutus stabs to the heart of the United Workers Party.
The situation further soured following Janice Compton’s public threat of blackmail—inherent in her somewhat shocking revelation that she had inherited documentary evidence of underhand dealings between the Taiwanese ambassador and the government her husband headed until his death, and would not hesitate to release it should the government under Stephenson King prove less than fair to her daughter.
So now, what’s next? Where leading officials are concerned, Micoud North remains today as loyal to the United Workers Party as it was when led by John Compton. Whether or not that is wishful thinking and delusionary will be determined—if Jeannine should resign as the constituency’s MP—by a by-election within ninety days afterward. Will this be preceded by a run-off including George Daniel?
Again time alone will tell. At least for now, it remains conjectural whether Jeannine will eventually quit politics altogether, or join the St Lucia Labour Party—or put her party troubles down to water under the legendary Vaughan Lewis bridge shortly before the next elections.
According to sources well positioned, the recently remarried former Mrs. Rambally’s resignation letter to the prime minister and political leader of the UWP—which bears her latest signature Jeannine Compton-Antoine—is dated February 6, 2011. In it
she identifies the straw that broke her camel’s back:
“As you are aware, the director of local government, under the direction of the Minister of Local Government, chose to override the decision of the village council with no consultation or discussion with either myself or the council. The vendors have been displaced with no discussion, the building is being renovated without a plan or approval from the village council or the Ministry of Planning, there is no lease agreement, the clerk of the village council has been threatened on two occasions by gentlemen conducting renovations on the arcade and stop notices issued by officers from the Ministry of Planning have been ignored. The matter has been reported to the Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Planning, the police and the prime minister on several occasions, the last being Thursday February 3, but still nothing has been done. The gentleman’s activities continue unabated.
Therefore, it shows me we are willing to promote illegality and ignore
what is right and legal. I cannot say if this lack of action is out of fear but it is definitely not out of ignorance . . . Due to the continued disrespect and disregard for myself in my capacity as parliamentary representative, the Micoud council and the people of Micoud North, I submit to you my resignation as a member of the United Workers Party.”
In her resignation letter, is Jeannine restating the obvious, that the director of local government operates under the direction of the Minister of Local Government Richard Frederick? Is she suggesting the minister himself issued directives to the director of local government who then “chose to override” a Micoud village council decision? Is Jeannine saying Frederick encouraged threatening “gentlemen conducting renovations on the arcade” to ignore stop notices from Frederick’s Ministry of Planning and that the prime minister and party leader Stephenson King was well “aware” of all this yet saw no reason to intervene?
Doubtless, the confusion will all come out in the expected public washing.
For reasons unknown, Jeannine copied her letter of resignation from the
UWP to the governor general and the House Speaker, neither of whom normally takes interest in party matters. Despite that her gripes appear to have less to do with her party than with the government, Jeannine’s letter ends on a perplexing amicable note: “I wish you the very best in the future and have enjoyed working with you. I look forward to our continued friendship and a productive relationship in the parliament of St Lucia . . .” Does anything here suggest Jeannine is about to betray the leader of the government whom she has enjoyed working with, and with whom she expects to continue a productive relationship in the parliament of Saint Lucia? Count on it, time will tell.
In the meantime, expect the opposition to seek to make hay of the latest episode in the stormy history of the Stephenson King administration. Expect the SLP also to set aside every negative criticism of John Compton, both as MP for Micoud North over
40 years and as prime minister of Saint Lucia. Chances are the redshirts
will not easily recall their 2007 anti-Jeannine campaigns. But count on Kenny & Company once again to try their luck with the luckless Silas Wilson,
by John Compton’s measure no different from “Bram-Bram”—a well-known Castries vagrant especially famous for exposing himself in public—and by an evidently agreeing Micoud North constituency who chose both father and daughter over Wilson in 2006 and 2007.
Jeannine’s resignation recalls memories of Sarah Flood-Beaubrun, who resigned first from the St. Lucia Labour Party, then the Kenny Anthony government shortly before the 2006 general elections. Mrs Flood-Beaubrun eventually threw her support behind the United
Workers Party and was rewarded with the position of Saint Lucia’s New York-based Minister Councilor. Hopefully, the lastest split will not be as rancorous as that involving the Kenny Anthony government and its former Minister of Health—who was dismissed by her Cabinet colleagues as a hypocrite and falsely accused in parliament of presiding
over some 300 illegal abortions!
At time of writing there has been no comment from representatives of the ruling party or from Prime Minister King.