by James McCall,
I have a few thoughts to share, as it relates to the upcoming battle in Constituency No. 8, where two of the candidates we know thus far, are Chesley Hamilton of the People’s Action Movement and Dr. Terrence Drew, Political Leader of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party.
We are all aware that, owing to the machinations of the People’s Action Movement (PAM) and the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), Team Unity has collapsed, to the point where Prime Minister Timothy Harris has fired six members of his cabinet; three each from PAM and CCM, and has moved to dissolve Parliament. So, it is just a matter of time before Kittitians and Nevisians return to the polls, having done so just shy of two years ago.
It seems clear to me that neither PAM nor CCM had counted on PM Harris making the move he made, particularly in light of an undated letter that they hurriedly delivered to the Governor General, advising him that they did not support Dr. Harris as Prime Minister. It also seems obvious that they expected His Excellency to revoke Dr. Harris’ appointment as Prime Minister and appoint one of them in his stead. It is understood that the learned GG, a legal luminary in his own right, sought counsel and responded by letting the good gentlemen know that he was in no position to do what they expected.
Another effort made, was to have filed a motion of no confidence but, as one understands it, our constitution does not provide for a motion of no confidence in the office of Prime Minister. It does, however, provide for the expression of no confidence in the government. The problem here, though, is that those who proposed the motion were all part of, and had not resigned from, the same government in which they had no confidence. It would seem as if a better option for them would have been to resign en masse, align themselves with Drs. Douglas and Hanley on the Opposition benches, and file the motion. Given their overwhelming numbers, it would undoubtedly have passed, if tabled. Let’s bear in mind that, at all material times, that group included three persons (Jonel Powell, Lindsay Grant and Mark Brantley) who had practiced law for years, prior to being elected to office. One would expect that, if anyone would have known the law, it should have been the lawyers, but something went wrong, somewhere.
So, we are at the point where Parliament has been dissolved and the parties are readying themselves for the ensuing battle. As indicated earlier, the focus of this piece will be on Constituency No. 8, where Dr. Terrence Drew will be representing the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, but we are as yet learn who the PLP will run there. However, the People’s Action Movement has now announced that it will contest that seat with Chesley Hamilton as its candidate. This was a significant surprise to me, given that Mr. Hamilton has, over the years, made no bones of his opposition to Team Unity, of which the People’s Action Movement was a member.
We recall his demonstrations over the government’s slowness in remunerating him for legal work he had done, and that was quite in order, given that one has every right to seek redress of grievances and to protest what one deems to be an injustice. Bear in mind, however, that the government that he claimed had been dragging its feet, included the party he was chairman of. As time went by, Mr. Hamilton voiced opinions that made it clear that he was no supporter of Team Unity which, again, included the party that he has now been selected to represent.
Let me say, at this juncture, that what I am saying is a reflection of no personal animus whatsoever against Mr. Hamilton. In 1998, I moved back to Mansion to live, having lived elsewhere on the island since 1980, and remained there until I left SKN in 2005. As such, I was in Constituency No. 7. When Mr. Hamilton was cleared to run in that constituency, he needed to canvas and my friend, Chesley’s cousin, Eugene “Gene” Hamilton, called me and cleared the way for him to visit me, which he did. Consequent upon that visit, I voted for Chesley in the election of 2000.
Time went by and, as we have seen happen again and again, the government lost favour, in 2015. In the interim, however, for a period of time, Mr. Hamilton was the chairman of PAM so, one would have thought that he had remained an ally, except that we started to see things change. I am unaware of what may have changed but among the changes is the fact that the coalition of parties that unseated the Labour/NRP coalition in 2015, was the party that Chesley once led as Chairman.
Ahead of the 2020 election, which was less than two years ago, as was reported in the web-based publication known as SKN News, on June 9th, 2020, Mr. Hamilton endorsed Labour. Here is a link to that story: https://sknnews.com/saint-kitts-nevis/chesley-endorses-labour-candidate-36175405/. He was quoted as saying that Team Unity had “…failed to deliver on its good governance agenda promised in its five-year term 2015 to 2020…”. Clearly, the people on the ground did not agree with him on that count because the voters showed an increase in their support for Team Unity. The statistics are that Team Unity went from 50.04% of the popular vote in 2015, to 55.68% in 2020 and, in the process, captured two additional seats.
With the dissolution of Parliament, it became clear that Eugene Hamilton, current representative for No. 8, was not going to run again. As such, very early, a young man named Valentine Lindsay, indicated in no uncertain terms, that he was willing, ready and available to throw his hat into the ring. Val, as I know him, has been a staunch, loyal and unwavering supporter of the People’s Action Movement for many years and, like Chesley, once served as Party Chairman. As to why PAM would have refused the offer of this longtime and continuous supporter, in favour of someone who had unequivocally and without compunction, wavered, is entirely beyond my meagre capacity to comprehend.
This is one of the reasons why I am of the view that the people of St. Kitts will strike a blow that will stun PAM, whenever they go to the polls.