The political leader of St Lucia’s main Opposition United Workers Party (UWP), Allen Chastanet, says he knows only too well what his Barbadian counterpart Mia Mottley is going through.
Chastanet, who was on a short visit to Barbados, recalled that when he became political leader of the UWP three years ago, Castries Central MP Richard Frederick, who is an attorney-at-law, had refused to attend party meetings, accept him as political leader and even made derogatory remarks about him and the party in the media.
“We went through the process where he [Frederick] was expelled,” Chastanet reminded in an interview with Barbados TODAY.
The UWP leader, while making a comparison between Frederick’s situation and the recent dismissal from the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) of Christ Church West MP Dr Maria Agard, further recalled that Frederick’s expulsion was tested in the law courts.
“He took the UWP to court on the eve of our convention and the court ruled against him,” the St Lucian hotelier said, adding that “once you go through the process at the end of the day it was not the political leader who expelled the member, there is a process.
“We in the UWP have a disciplinary committee and then the matter goes to the National Council which voted overwhelmingly in favour of Frederick’s expulsion,” he noted.
However, lawyers for Dr Agard, who was expelled from the BLP on November 22 have been adamant that due process was not followed and that there was no provision in the BLP’s constitution for any disciplinary committee.
Dr Agard has also dismissed as “frivolous” the nine charges, which were brought by the party’s National Council against her. She has also charged that her removal was based on the fact that she dared to be different and had sought to challenge her leader’s “tyrannical and autocratic” style.
Like Mottley, Chastanet said he had been accused of being a dictator. However, he sought to remind the Barbadian public that at the end of the day the political leader has only one vote in any internal ballot.
“Decisions of whether people are to be expelled or policy decisions accepted require everybody’s votes and participation. Political leaders only have one vote,” he stressed.
Recalling the halcyon days of 1964 to 1997 when former Prime Minister Sir John Compton was seen as a colossus on the political landscape in St Lucia, he said ever since then the UWP has been struggling to maintain its relevance.
Since assuming the office of political leader, he said he has been focused on extending the democratic process and modernizing the UWP.
“We have established a new vision, mission and set of values. We have been in the process of modernizing the party and what we are saying, it is a bottom-up approach.
“The idea is to strengthen our constituency branches . . . and [become] a party of consensus.”