“We are accustomed to leader and president being the same individual, how do we move on from that?”
That question was put to Major St Clair Leacock, as he contends for leader of the New Democratic Party.
MP Leacock in a verbose response to the question from New Times host Clemroy Bert François, said that he can’t be “parsimonious” about such things.
“First of all, when Dr. Friday was selected – although I was not happy about the way we went about it, I called him, congratulated him, and told him that he has my support and understanding”. Leacock said.
“I did not agree with how we got there in choosing the new Leader of the Opposition,” Leacock said.
“Let me make a point on that, on leader of the Opposition party. It is one thing for the governing regime to appoint a Prime Minister from among the parliamentarians because the government has the majority of seats in the parliament. So, the Prime Minister reflects the parliamentary majority. The Opposition does not enjoy the same privilege”. Leacock lamented.
“Let’s assume there were only three persons appointed on the parliamentary Opposition, and they proceed to appoint a Leader of the Opposition. What about the other 12 constituencies that are not represented? It is a minority decision to put such an opposition person in place!” the Opposition MP said.
Leacock further laments,
“My view has always been it is best when we proceed to have a leader or President of the party elected and then we move back towards having a Leader of the Opposition, because it is an ideal situation, that the Leader of the party is the Leader of the Opposition.
“But there is nothing wrong in having two separate persons”, Leacock said, “so, I make that observation”
“The current structural arrangement that we have within the party is not working”. the Major opined.
“Early in the life of the party I was tasked to write job descriptions to give meaning to the positions of Chairpersons, the Vice President and others. We have not done so well in terms of the executive functioning. I believe we should get rid of that”.
Leacock said, “The party should proceed to have a leader and a deputy leader, so that in this particular situation where a person removes themselves as being Leader, automatically the Deputy Leader takes over until such time as we get to a convention and he is confirmed, or there is a change”.
Leacock said from that stage the party can proceed until it gets into government where it knows who is going to be the leader as Prime Minister or its deputy leader as Deputy Prime Minister.
In his radio speech to his party’s faithful, Leacock said,
“I believe that I will bring improvements to the system. As it is now, the system can work. Dr. Friday is already there and should be supported and respected, but the party should on Sunday vote into office as leader of the party, a person not on narrow interest nor differences”.
“If you are a member of a party, it is not a time to squander or waste that privilege, but to focus on the constituencies who have put you in parliament. You go to the parliament. You do your research. Immerse yourself in the national activity. You don’t absent yourself from important national and parliamentary business for the flimsiest of reasons! That’s why I define myself as a professional politician!” Leacock quipped.
“I proceed from that vantage point to say, we can have a leader of the party and a Leader of the Opposition as a separate post, and they can both work together”.
By Ernesto Cooke