The appointment of Neville Cenac as governor general had not yet been officially announced when recollections, informed and just plain self-serving, started featuring on FB—the Fool’s Bible —mainly anonymously. Of course there can be no denying the impact of Mr. Cenac’s 1987 decision on the Saint Lucia Labour Party. For the SLP it was a sin unpardonable, even by He who was always without sin, and almost from the moment Neville Cenac took his parliamentary seat (see center and page 4) between UWP MPs Desmond Brathwaite and Stephenson King, following the April 1987 general elections—ignoring his vacant chair on the side of the opposition—the holier-than-thou stone throwers went into action. Of course, floor crossing has always been as commonplace as election-time promises.
But first, what exactly is floor crossing? Most reference sources say the floor is crossed when a politician changes his or her allegiance, or votes against their party in a Westminster system of parliament. Also, “crossing the floor may be voting against the approved party lines, or changing to another party after being elected while a member of a first party.” (It occurs to me, considering the preceding, that I may have crossed the floor in 1998 when I voted in the Senate against guaranteeing a $4 million bank loan to benefit a bankrupt airline company; that John Compton, Julian Hunte, Lenard Montoute, George Odlum, Peter Josie, Vaughan Lewis may also be in the category of floor crossers. I might also label floor crossers Republican senators who vote against some of Donald Trump’s more insane bills.)
On the long list of legendary floor crossers are Winston Churchill (1904); Jack Horner (who blamed his defection to Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government on his own party leader Joe Clark); David Emerson, who, right after his victory in Canada’s 2006 elections, crossed over from his Liberal party to join Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. There have been quite a number of UK crossovers, among them Oliver Baldwin, W.E.D. Allen, Sir Oswald Mosley, John Strachey, Ernest Millington, John Macleod, Sir Harry Legge-Bourke, John Dunlop, Tommy Graham, Quentin Davies, Elliott Morley. As recently as 2016, there were: Jim O’Neil, Parry Mitchell, Alex Carlie among others.