February 25, 2005
When knights awaken

The politics of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Lucia has had its similarites over the years.

Not least among them was the fact that the longest governing Prime Ministers of both nations hailed from the islands of the Grenadines and were both lovers of the sea. It is said too that both men are cousins; both were knighted by Her Majesty the Queen in the latter years of their tenures in office. {{more}}

Sir James Fitz-allan Michell and Sir John Compton were also unique in that both leaders demitted office in similar fashion. Sir John handpicked a favourite outstanding academic in Dr. Vaughn Lewis to replace him in St. Lucia. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sir James handpicked an equally outstanding economist in Arnhim Eustace. Coincidentally too, both successors were removed from office by Labour Parties and experienced short stints in office.

Now the people of both countries have only to look on in amazement as both grand old men of politics have re-emerged in spectacular fashion to reclaim their own political space.

In St. Lucia, Sir John has gone the whole way and announced that he intends to contest the leadership race to once more head his United Workers Party (UWP). In the process he just may sideline Dr. Vaughn Lewis, as even the younger contenders within his party seem willing to step aside and make way for the “father of the nation.” Even at this stage of his life, Sir John’s figure still seems to overshadow the younger would be leaders within his party.

In St.Vincent and the Grenadines, Sir James, in many ways still remains his old charismatic self. His dominance over the Vincentian and Caribbean political landscape did not come by accident. This is a man who has mastered his craft and knows his people. As he just stopped short of saying at the NDP convention Sunday, he knows the strings to pull.

His return to address his party’s convention therefore cannot be taken lightly. However one may read it, it seems hardly likely though that he intends to follow the direction of his cousin Sir John and return to electoral politics. He does look well rested and seems to be enjoying it.

What seems clear however, is that he seems well rested enough, and probably is indignant enough with the state of political play to want to ensure that the party he founded does not flounder. He would want to see the NDP return to office.

We may therefore just see Sir James again on the campaign trail, though not as candidate but as king-maker. He still retains the fire and the respect, at least amongst his followers.

The next year or so should therefore see very interesting times for the politics of these two countries, now that these two aging giants have awakened, once again.