Even before he had trumpeted to the world his Neanderthal propensity for grabbing ‘em “by the pussy”; before in kiss-and-tell fashion he shared on-air with singular shock jock Howard Stern his incestophile fascination with his own daughter’s posterior; before he openly bragged that it was “only to be expected” all the women on his reality-TV show would flirt with him—“consciously or unconsciously”—his reputation among our locally presumed best brains was set. Which may explain why the frontline propagandists of the then incumbent party had taken to referring to Allen Chastanet as “the tropical Trump.” Certainly it could not have been something Chastanet had said reminiscent of the “very, very, very rich” man who lived in New York’s fourth tallest tower!
What Allen Chastanet’s detractors desperately sought to do in the earliest days of the Donald’s campaign for President of the United States, when everywhere save here he was considered a millionaire buffoon, was to paint Chastanet as a backwater Trump and too rich to understand poverty; “the poster boy of Saint Lucia’s economic class”; an officially declared liar under oath; a white but talentless power seeker determined further to prosper from the sweat of helpless poor black Saint Lucians; an imposter who had claimed for himself credentials he never earned; who had nothing in common with regular citizens—could not speak a word in their native tongue—and whose sole claim to fame was that he was the not particularly cherished son of millionaire businessman Michael Chastanet whose own “countless contributions to local commerce” had rendered him in the discerning eyes of the government altogether deserving of the Order of the British Empire.
Of course it was well before Allen had declared himself an election prospect when Citizen Michael’s special services to the nation had received official recognition. Indeed, Allen’s decision had placed father and son at great risk, especially after the prime minister’s repeated public declaration that the 2016 elections amounted to war—with Michael and Allen on one side and the prime minister’s army on the other—this at a time when hardly a week went by without a citizen’s life having been unaccountably taken.
Meanwhile the Chastanet name was taking daily bashings from at least three TV and radio outlets. Which is not to say they broadcast only vitriolic inventions. Keeping his critics well supplied with ammunition was the hardly secret internecine war that had its roots in Chastanet’s unexpected election as leader of the United Workers Party, earlier widely considered a mission impossible, to say nothing of Stephenson King’s removal as leader of the House opposition in favor of Gale Rigobert. That despite all odds Chastanet had prevailed, not just once but twice, was up and across a miracle of biblical proportions. After all, he was fighting not only his natural enemies but also disgruntled former brethren who considered him a Judas, if only for doing what no one had ever thought to attempt since the formation in 1964 of the United Workers Party. In all that time—until he resigned to accommodate Vaughan Lewis—John Compton had ruled the roost as undisputed monarch of all he surveyed.
All efforts to block Chastanet at the pass having failed, his natural and other enemies with their common ambition pulled out all the stops. If somehow he had managed to wrest control of the UWP despite their combined efforts, they nevertheless determined that Chastanet would be leader in name only. With election time fast approaching, he still had not identified the constituency for which he planned to do battle. Rumor first suggested a return to Soufriere, where he had been forced to eat sulphur at the feet of Harold Dalsan. Then it was Micoud South, represented in parliament by Arsene James. In any event the incumbent party threatened Chastanet with a “secret weapon.” (Always theirs was the language of war!)
If Chastanet heard, he seemed undeterred. Some, such as I, imagined he simply had no idea what he had gotten himself into. Meanwhile I teased his father: “Why don’t you put some real money behind your son’s campaign?” As if I needed to be told! More than once Michael, a longtime friend, had told me he wished Allen had stayed out of politics. “But what to do?” he would add. “In life you have to deal with many things, like it or not. That’s what he’s decided to do . . . and, well, he’s my son.”
The suggestion that Allen Chastanet was loaded often brought tears to my eyes. That’s how hard I laughed whenever individuals, with Chastanet the Elder on their minds, referred to Allen’s “campaign chest.” Funnier still was that he had agreed to pay Arsene James millions to step down and bring about a by-election that he hoped would win James’ cooperation. What many seemed not to realize was that Allen’s father expected him to put in his several hours at the family hotel—or he didn’t get paid. And no fortune at that. As for a by-election, that was the last thing Allen Chastanet hoped to trigger. “I’m interested only in the real thing” was his response when I prodded him, “not a by-election.” No need to go into what transpired just seven months ago. No one reading this need be told that Allen outfoxed all the pundits.
Worthy of repetition: Six or seven weeks before the elections the United Workers Party was still disunited and bitter, squabbling all over the media, contradicting one another, issuing thinly veiled threats, and cleverly leveling blame—aided and abetted by Chastanet detractors on FB and the government-influenced media. And then, there they were: Lenard Montoute, Sarah Flood-Beaubrun and yes, Mr Heavy Roller himself. Almost everyone had been ready to bet money King was so bitterly opposed to Allen that he’d sold his dignity, if not his soul, in exchange for an overseas diplomatic post after the UWP had lost the elections. Almost until the last minute the former prime minister had kept everyone guessing—and then shown them what he was made of: UWP to the bone!
Suddenly everyone was saying Allen had pulled off another miracle, Arsene James having retired and made room for his party leader. Only then did the SLP’s election strategists decide the time was right to drop their WMDs. Kenny Anthony rattled the nation to its core by declaring June 6 Election Day. If his intention was to catch the UWP unprepared, the incumbents scored a bullseye. No posters, no yellow flags in sight, not even the usual yellow tee shirts bearing the names and images of UWP candidates. While the other side had shown every sign of readiness, even their frontline soldiers were taken by surprise—which raised the interesting question: Who’s the dummy that planned the surprise attack?
But bad news was in the air. At least one important poll predicted disaster, and not for Chastanet’s ostensibly ragtag UWP. The SLP leader seemed to be on every local TV channel, save DBS. But after he followed Chastanet on Timothy Poleon’s Newsspin, stuttering and lacking in confidence, answering callers’ questions like a political neophyte, even the boldest of his warriors had good reason to suspect their declared war had had the same affect of shooting themselves in the foot!
The surprise election produced a not so surprising result. Eleven-six, in favor of the UWP that until four weeks before polling day was a party in name alone. It remains to be seen what happens next and whether Allan Chastanet retains his Mandrake skills. Even as he warns of “no more business as usual,” that the making of omelets demands broken eggs, his immediate predecessor, near invisible and silent since his party’s drubbing at the polls, has reappeared. Reminiscent of 2007—when he was in opposition and by his own account fresh out of purgatory and ready again to lead, starting with a protest demonstration against the Stephenson King government by disgruntled CSA personnel—Kenny Anthony recently came out of hiding. On the occasion he fulminated against what had been a national secret in his time as PM until his successor brought it out into the open: the DSH project—about which much more from me (at last!) in the coming days. But enough. The purpose of this piece is to justify our choice of the miracle worker Allen Chastanet as STAR Person of the Year 2016!