Cen­tral Castries Con­stituency – Flam­beau’s es­tranged lover?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

By Alexis B.Mont­gomery

Sim­ply put, any re­main­ing air of awe and mys­tery sur­round­ing the po­lit­i­cal fu­ture of lawyer and politi­cian Richard Fred­er­ick is per­haps no longer for the sake of the man him­self, but rather is a cre­ation born out of the unan­swered ques­tions loom­ing over his con­stituents go­ing into the im­mi­nent na­tional elec­tion.

The ques­tion of whether Fred­er­ick should have been ex­pelled from the op­po­si­tion party is old news now. The is­sue has been as thor­oughly beaten as any dead horse could be and now there must be a shift to the col­lec­tive views of peo­ple who voted UWP and had their MP ex­pelled from the par­ent party. They got the short end of the dirty stick UWP has been wav­ing around dur­ing its do­mes­tic con­flicts and would have ev­ery right to now feel dis­en­fran­chised.

It ap­pears the UWP has again acted with sin­gle vi­sion, giv­ing lit­tle con­sid­er­a­tion to the pride of the peo­ple of Cen­tral Castries – UWP sup­port­ers – who in­ad­ver­tently found them­selves en­twined in Fred­er­ick’s grudge match with the party by dint of him be­ing their rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

The ques­tion is: should the party’s hi­er­ar­chy not have held back, in­stead ex­er­cis­ing some wis­dom and pa­tience in al­low­ing the gen­tle­man’s term of of­fice to come to a nat­u­ral end, given that the coun­try is just months away from na­tional elec­tions? When con­fronted with team Allen Chas­tanet’s cold front and the in­evitably prob­lem­atic is­sue of not hav­ing US visas, he may well have vol­un­tar­ily con­ceded that it makes sense not to run another elec­tion.

Such strate­gic flex­ing of its po­lit­i­cal mus­cles would have ben­e­fit­ted the party in the sense that there would now be no need to have to deal with a splin­tered, bit­ter or ag­grieved and alien­ated Cen­tral Castries Con­stituency. What about a su­per angry Fred­er­ick who finds his pound of flesh in his ded­i­cated, vit­ri­olic bash­ing of the party in which he en­gages on his tele­vi­sion show ev­ery week? Sev­eral ob­servers won­der that in­stead of do­ing things in a man­ner to keep the tem­per­a­ture sta­ble, UWP al­ways does some­thing to set the fire alarms off in­stead.

Fred­er­ick was elected to the Castries Cen­tral Con­stituency as an In­de­pen­dent Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, hav­ing won the by–elec­tion in March 2006, which was prompted by the res­ig­na­tion of then SLP Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Sarah Flood–Beaubrun. Sub­se­quently Fred­er­ick was en­dorsed by the United Work­ers Party in the UWP Gen­eral Elec­tion of De­cem­ber 11, 2006. What prospects did they see in him then?

Beyond ques­tion, he was a sure seat. The fact that the man­date of the peo­ple of Castries Cen­tral swayed so hand­somely in favour of Fred­er­ick and his pop­u­lar­ity rode on a wave higher than most prospec­tive can­di­dates could have ever dreamt, clearly made Fred­er­ick the big catch for the party at the time.

When the MP came for­ward to ac­tively en­gage gangs in di­a­logues which quelled a deadly spike in gang war­fare in his con­stituency, it was the proof in the pud­ding that the Pit Bull in the House of Par­lia­ment was trusted and re­spected on the ground with ‘his peo­ple’.

Although he was sworn in as Min­is­ter for Hous­ing, Ur­ban Re­newal and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment in the ad­min­is­tra­tion of for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Sir John Comp­ton on De­cem­ber 19, 2006, Richard Fred­er­ick was sub­se­quently im­pli­cated in a fac­tion of rogue el­e­ments within the Cab­i­net, who were al­legedly the key in­sti­ga­tors and per­pe­tra­tors of not only great dis­cord within the UWP ad­min­is­tra­tion and party sup­port­ers, but also were painted as the ar­chi­tects of the death of the Party Leader and Fa­ther of the Na­tion, Sir John Comp­ton.

To their credit, Castries Cen­tral sup­port­ers made up largely of the down­trod­den work­ing class stepped up to de­fend their MP and never yielded to the harsh crit­ics or calls for his res­ig­na­tion.

The reel of un­end­ing drama that seems to have de­fined Fred­er­ick’s ca­reer con­tin­ued to play out at a height­ened pace. The peo­ple of Cen­tral Castries watched in re­vul­sion as in 2007 he was taken into cus­tody by po­lice, act­ing on in­struc­tions from for­mer Cus­toms Con­troller Ter­rance Leonard, for al­leged tax eva­sion and un­der-in­voic­ing on the pur­chase of cars from the US. No charges have since been laid.

The peo­ple of Cen­tral Castries were again dragged along as in Septem­ber 2011 Wik­iLeaks re­lated a scan­dal re­gard­ing the with­drawal by the U.S. State Depart­ment of Fred­er­ick’s diplo­matic and per­sonal visas for en­try into the United States.

This disturbing and drawn-out at­tack on the MP’s rep­u­ta­tion was puni­tive and moved the UWP’s party base to clam­our for Fred­er­ick’s ex­pul­sion from the party ahead of the 2011 elec­tions. There were re­lent­less SLP at­tacks and in­ten­si­fied pro­pa­ganda ped­dling il­lus­trated by this quote among sev­eral pulled from Labour’s web­site in a piece by Maryanna Wil­liams en­ti­tled “Ghosts of Sir John haunt­ing King and company” which reads: “The in­abil­ity and pow­er­less­ness of King to con­trol and dis­ci­pline mem­bers of his Cab­i­net has caused a dra­matic loss of in­vestor con­fi­dence in the Gov­ern­ment of St. Lu­cia. This has also un­der­mined the rep­u­ta­tion of our Gov­ern­ment and coun­try which, ac­cord­ing to the 2009 and 2010 US State Depart­ment re­ports, has drifted back­wards into cor­rup­tion and a ten­dency to­wards graft. Com­plaints have been made by in­vestors, di­rectly to the Prime Min­is­ter, about the ques­tion­able ac­tiv­i­ties of his In­vest­ment and (now for­mer) Phys­i­cal Plan­ning Min­is­ter, but King did ab­so­lutely noth­ing to deal with the disturbing claims be­ing made”.

The un­re­lent­ing smear cam­paign, the de­ri­sion and crit­i­cism heaped upon the MP cer­tainly brought un­de­served dam­aged to the morale of the Castries Cen­tral con­stituents. As the bay­ing mob de­manded Fred­er­ick’s head with the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion that he was not a team player, and that he was col­lat­eral dam­age and far too no­to­ri­ous to be a min­is­ter in the gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia, the con­fi­dence of his con­stituents be­gan to crum­ble like an avalanche of sud­den doubt had hit their heads.

The ero­sion and dele­te­ri­ous im­pact caused by the smear cam­paign fed and fu­eled by the Labour Party pro­pa­ganda ma­chin­ery be­came ev­i­dent after the 2011 elec­tions. Although Fred­er­ick could have still popped the cham­pagne cork for his vic­tory in the 11– 6 elec­tion re­sults, his strong­hold had di­min­ished con­sid­er­ably at key polling sta­tions cov­er­ing E1 to E6, among other drops across the polling sta­tions where the MP had his­tor­i­cally en­joyed a sure win over op­po­nents.

Come 2014 and Richard Fred­er­ick is of­fi­cially ousted from his party on Au­gust17, and re­turns full cir­cle to be­ing an In­de­pen­dent as he was at the be­gin­ning of his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer. Some de­trac­tors say it is time for a re­quiem for the ca­reer of the MP who rose from the hum­ble begin­nings of the ba­nana plan­ta­tion and farm work all the way to the hal­lowed horse­shoe of the House of Par­lia­ment. Castries Cen­tral flam­beaus should know if they want to see Fred­er­ick’s back after ex­pe­ri­enc­ing both flam­beau and labour pains simultaneously.

Though Fred­er­ick has not sig­naled his fu­ture di­rec­tion in pol­i­tics, the re­cent dis­missal of the mo­tion to stop the re­cent UWP con­ven­tion does not bode well for a re­vamp­ing of re­la­tions with the UWP. But Fred­er­ick has proven that he can take care of him­self.

It is left to be seen just how Cen­tral Castries will speak in a na­tional elec­tion and what they will have to say to any prophet sent by the UWP to bring them am­ne­sia pills to cure their cur­rent grief with the party. Will am­ne­sia set in or will a timely rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of es­tranged lovers take place? Once again UWP seems to have thrown out the baby with the bath wa­ter.

MP with­out a home?

Em­bat­tled Cen­tral Castries MP Richard Fred­er­ick - how will his can­di­dacy for the next gen­eral elec­tions play


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