Central Castries Constituency – Flambeau’s estranged lover?
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