Left Leaves Labour
Dominica's former leftists turn right to the United Workers Party
The Left has gone Right this election, or, at the very least, the Left has left the once formidable coalition that is the Dominica Labour Party (DLP), one of the country's leading leftwing luminaries has contended.
And, according to Crispin Gregoire, the career diplomat and former Dominica representative at the United Nations, this ought to make the 8 December general election an interesting one.
In the 1980s Dominica's top leftists like Rosie Douglas, Pierre Charles, Bernard Wiltshire and a host of others, with an ideology that promoted the working class, began aligning with the Labour Party.
This coalition helped build the DLP into a formidable force which, having laboured for two decades in opposition, finally regained the voters' trust in 2000, stated Gregoire in a less than diplomatic assessment of the political situation leading up to next month's poll.
However, this marriage has unraveled spectacularly because the prime minister and DLP leader puts power before principle, and the left now see any association with this Labour Party as opprobrium, he told The Sun in an exclusive interview.
"The left that joined with old Labour in the 80s, the political intelligentsia that joined Labour, the Left, we all have completely left Labour and are aligning with UWP (United Workers Party)," the former ambassador contended.
Nowhere are signs of the shattered coalition more obvious than in Grand Bay, where, in 1985, the constituency's top leftist, Pierre Charles, wrestled the seat for Labour from the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP). Grand Bay has become a DLP stronghold since. Gregoire had been one of Charles' many disciples and was the choice of influencers within the DLP constituency association to be their candidate in the last election.
These influencers have since been sidelined by the party which has lost its soul and has become a hollow shadow of what it was meant to be, claims Gregoire. And, in what some see as apostasy, those from the left are leaving in droves and are now throwing their support behind the UWP.
"It happened in Grand Bay where the Pierre Charles machine has been dismantled by no less a person than his wife. UWP cannot win in Grand Bay but they will triple their votes in Grand Bay. At a recent forum, you had Clarkson (Thomas) and I- who came from the Pierre Charles camp(speaking in favour of the UWP). That represented that part of the Labour left wing who have pulled out completely from Labour."
Left wing politics has been predicated on international solidarity, and the rise of the Left here saw them establishing ties with like-minded parties and groups, including the liberation movement in Africa. They also maintained close links with Cuba, with which Dominica, during the reign of the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) in the 1980s, had a less-than-cordial relationship.
"We tried to influence the foreign policy with Patrick John. When Eugenia came in she didn't want to go that route, she pursued a pro-western policy," Gregoire told The Sun. However, the island began formal relations with Havana in 1996 under the UWP administration. This, Gregoire contends, still means a lot to the Cuban government, and holds some sway as the Left move out of the DLP and right into the UWP.