News
July 20, 2010
ULP will nominate the best candidates – PM

by Kenton X. Chance Tue, Jul 20, 2010

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is confident that the members of his Unity Labour Party (ULP) will nominate the best candidates from among the persons interested in running on a ULP ticket in the next general elections.{{more}}

General elections here, though constitutionally due next March, are widely expected later this year and the Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has already named candidates for the 15 existing seats.

The ULP is yet to name its candidates even as Gonsalves told SEARCHLIGHT last week that at least seven of the Party’s candidates in the 2005 General Elections want “to serve in a different capacity”.

The ULP politicians who will not contest the next general elections are Deputy Prime Minister Sir Louis Straker; Ministers René Baptiste, Glen Beache, Mike Browne, and Selmon Walters. Junior Minister Conrad Sayers and Senator Julian Francis will also make way for new candidates.

“I will give my observation: For what it is worth in this Caribbean, with the 24-hour news cycle and with the populations becoming far more discriminating than hitherto, you really have to be connected with people for them to be enthused with giving you a third term in a particular seat,” Gonsalves told SEARCHLIGHT.

He, however, stated there are some candidates or a political leader whom a constituency would want to represent them for three terms or more.

“And some whom they won’t want for any term at all,” Gonsalves said.

The ULP will have at least nine new faces among its slate of candidates after Parliament in March approved two new constituencies.

The on July 9, 2010, secured an injunction preventing the Boundaries Commission from publishing its recommendations for the location of the constituencies amidst claims by the NDP that the boundaries were decided before the Commission met. The injunction will go to trial on July 27-28.

Gonsalves said that while there are no educational or other requirements for ULP candidates, the members of the party, including its youth “have a maturity of judgement.

“And, if two or three people come forward, they (Party members) make an assessment, based on all sorts of criteria, as to whether they prefer Tom or Eric or Elizabeth. That’s how we do it,” he told SEARCHLIGHT.

“A few months ago when the NDP was naming candidates, everybody was coming to me asking me why you all are not naming candidates. I said these fellas are jokers. Naming candidates that early? And, what is happening, they are now trying to unravel those candidates as you get closer,” he said.

Gonsalves said constituents “are becoming more discriminatory about who they want to represent them.

“People see your love and how you serve them and they say listen, I would like that man to serve me for as long as he wants to serve because he is a good man… Of course, people expect you to have a minimum level of education and skill to represent them,” Gonsalves said.

“It is not the presence or absence of a degree which helps you, it’s how you relate to people … it has always been like that. That’s a fundamental issue and people get more

discriminating and they are seeing through with crystal clarity,” he added.

Gonsalves said that the ULP’s Candidate Selection Committee, which comprises 11 persons from the Central Executive and chaired by Gonsalves in his capacity as political leader of the party, will screen all candidates.

“We sit and we interview these persons (aspiring candidates). We ask them all sorts of things and we make assessments… How are they are grounded with people? Which school did you go to? What is your profession? What have you been doing? Is there any skeleton in the closet that we should know about, which would have some adverse impact? And so forth,” said Gonsalves.