The NDP has held this seat since 1984 first by Eddie Griffith, PR Campbell, Carlyle Dougan and then former opposition leader Arnhim Eustace. The party’s fortunes have seesawed from 26 votes in 2001 to a high of 467 in 2010, only to be narrowed to 145 votes by Luke Browne, the Rhodes scholar, in the 2015 general elections.
Browne cannot afford a third consecutive defeat and is desperate to win. It will not be as easy as the uninformed thinks.
His impediments to victory are many. Among them are the following: his party is going for an unprecedented 5 term, he was saddled with the difficult damned if you do, damned if you don’t health ministry. We approach the elections with a Dengue Fever outbreak that has already taken 6 lives. Government has been slammed for what some regard as its inept response to the outbreak. Add to these woes the fact that some in the ULP leadership may not want him to win.
Theo Browne, Luke’s father, has tipped him to become a future prime minister. Luke’s ambition aside, Gonsalves has already groomed and hand-picked his son Camillo as his replacement. Luke’s Brother -in- Law Saboto have already given way to the crowned prince, but Luke may not be that compliant.
Additionally, Luke comes up against a 36-year history of NDP dominance in the constituency and a younger, more vigorous opponent, Fitz Bramble, former diplomat, teacher, national footballer and economist. Bramble has had a constant presence in the villages since his return in July.
Although the ULP is hell-bent on exploiting his ill-conceived call for a toll at Sion Hill, it’s anyone’s guess if he will pay for his mouth. Remember, Daniel Cummings, who proudly stoned a church, is a two incumbent and a virtual shoo-in for a 3 term.
Don’t count out Luke though. He knows the forces arrayed against him and is determined to emerge as the king of the hill. Too close to call.
The veteran Montgomery Daniel, former agriculture and housing minister, is committed to winning again, but his challenger is intent on making the task difficult.
Daniel is not as impregnable as he or his party may want us to believe. Had there not been a change in the constituency boundaries in 2010, Daniel may have been retired already. Even with the addition of labour supporters, he won by 250 votes in 2010 and 320 in 2015.
The 2015 elections came after the Rock Gutter disaster where several children lost their lives after a minibus plunged into the sea.
Gonsalves spent weeks in the area spending lavishly and Daniel, as keeper of the Housing Ministry, made good use of Lumber, cement and galvanize. All of that for a 70-vote increase.
This time around he comes up against the young, energetic and confident teacher Shevern Lewis-John.
Plain Talk has always warned against rent a crowd politics.
However, if the turnout and enthusiasm displayed at Ms Lewis-John’s constituency lime at Langley Park last Friday is any indication of her popularity, and if that popularity is replicated across the constituency, the ‘Proud Carib’ may have a fight on his hand.