March 20, 2015
Mixed reaction to Straker’s return in Central Leeward

There have been mixed reactions by constituents of Central Leeward to the return of Sir Louis Straker to active politics.

Since last Sunday, when Straker was recalled by the Unity Labour Party (ULP) to contest the seat in the upcoming elections, conversation among constituents has centred around the wisdom of the decision.{{more}}

Many supporters of the ULP were elated and when SEARCHLIGHT visited Layou on Wednesday, they were still in a celebratory mood.

“I’m glad for him because he is a very good man in the community and he do good work, so I’m glad he could run back a next term,” one constituent told SEARCHLIGHT.

“I feel good about Louis. He is the man for Central Leeward,” said another individual, who was of the view that present representative Maxwell Charles was not suited to represent the people in the manner that was needed.

“We didn’t want Dunstan [Johnson] because he didn’t decide to give way to the standing representer, which is Charlo (Maxwell Charles) and since he na decide…the Comrade ask the people if he go to Louis, if we will accept him and everybody say yes. He went for him and everybody take him with open arms. We

didn’t want Dunstan,” one man said, as he recounted what had happened at the council meeting, which took place last Sunday at the Central Leeward Secondary School.

Amidst the celebration, other constituents expressed displeasure with the decision to bring Straker out of retirement. In fact, some persons are of the opinion that it is a backward step for the ULP.

“He had bowed out already and if you’re the ruling party and can’t attract a young viable candidate, it means that you’re just retrogressing,” a Layou resident said.

“It’s dictatorial that the leader would just come and choose him above the other two. In a true democracy, you work things out. You have heated debate, but you work things out. To compound

it, he went into the church and pulled him out, which is not a good sign.”

“Louis done getting gratuity. He done getting a pension, he should relax and give Mr Charles a second chance,” one woman told SEARCHLIGHT passionately.

According to some persons, the fact that the ULP has had to bring back Straker means that New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate Ben Exeter has a good chance of winning the seat.

“He will win, because if you look at the past elections, the numbers that the ULP got, they have dwindled and people are just up for a change,” one gentleman said.

“We need to be objective and go about things in a proper, proper way because it’s people’s lives and everything in our small society is determined by the people who you put to serve you. We are too polarized and divided and I hope if and when Ben gets there, that victimization would be in the background. Meritocracy should be at the forefront.”

As SEARCHLIGHT moved around the town of Layou, one woman could be heard shouting loudly that “Ben is the man right now!”

However, others described the constituency as “a Labour seat” and declared that Exeter would never win in any election that is called.

“Ben could never win in this constituency. What is it in future that he has for Central Leeward? He can’t do anything for Central Leeward. When Ben went away, Ben leave a whole set ah [thatch] house and dirt road. When he come back, he see a whole load ah bungalow ah Layou, Barrouallie, all the road concrete; what ain’t concrete is asphalt and he still saying he ain’t see no development in Central Leeward? Let him go up on the top of Layou hill and look down and go to Peters Hope and look over, you will see development. Look at Buccament Resort. He did leave a resort here?” a supporter of Straker said.

Straker was the constituency’s parliamentary representative for 15 years before he retired in 2010.