‘Twas David’s wish
DAVID THOMPSON’S DYING WISH was that his wife Mara represent the people of St John in the event that he could no longer do so.
That was revealed last night in Gall Hill by his former political advisor Hartley Henry at the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) campaign launch for the January 20 by-election in St John.
Speaking before a huge crowd at the community centre (an advanced copy of the speech was obtained by the WEEKEND NATION), Henry, a close friend of the deceased Prime Minister, said he had spoken to the late leader shortly after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and bluntly put
this question to him: “But, chief, if something were to happen, where you were forced to demit office, for whatever reason, as MP for St John, looking around, who do you fancy to continue your work?”
The reply was, according to Henry: “The reality is that over the past five years or so, since I resumed the leadership of the DLP, in order to focus on readying the party for victory, I yielded the issue of representation of St John to Mara. She has been doing the donkey work in St John for the past few years.”
Henry continued: “I saw the opening here and asked the question, bluntly, ‘Chief, who would you support to succeed you in St John in the event of anything happening to you?’
“David Thompson sat up and, with his famous smile, he said, ‘Look her there!’, pointing, of course, to Mara, who was busy around the room doing other things.
“I shouted across the room, ‘Mara, did you hear what the chief just said?’
“Mara replied, ‘You guys got to be joking. I am no politician’ and the chief responded, ‘Mara, you don’t have to be a politician. You are already a good representative’.”
According to Henry, Mara “did not like or appreciate the direction” of the conversation and “quickly introduced less stressful topics for us to talk about”.
Henry said he left New York, where the late Prime Minister was receiving treatment at the Presbyterian Hospital there, at the end of June and flew to China for about four weeks on family business.
“On my return to New York, the Thompsons were again in the city . . . . By this time the Prime Minister’s condition had deteriorated somewhat, and he was now a patient at the hospital itself.
“I entered the room and immediately I sensed that the PM wanted to say something to me. He started fidgeting and doing all sorts of things to get Mara out of the room – he complained about the air conditioning, the discomfort of his pillow, even indigestion caused from the last meal he had eaten.
“When all else had failed, the chief asked Mara to go down the corridor to fetch a bottle of apple juice . . . .
“As Mara exited, Prime Minister Thompson . . . said to me, ‘Hartley, I have been thinking about that conversation we had . . . I truly believe that Mara is the best person to contest that seat in the event of anything happening to me . . . . Use your influence to get her to run for that seat. Talk to Oya . . . she is the one that will persuade her’.
“Oya was adamant that her mother should run, and even Misha, who is normally very reserved on these issues, pledged her full support in the event of her mum taking the plunge.
“. . . Out of the blue, towards the middle of December, Mara called me one morning and said, ‘Hartley, we need to talk’.
“I went to her home and she said, in a very determined and resolved manner, ‘I am going to do it!’ I asked do what? She said, ‘I am going to run . . . ’.
“In total shock, I asked, ‘But what made you change your mind? Was there a road to Damascus experience?’ She laughed and said, ‘No, it was the people of St John. They have been calling morning, noon and night. Do you know that
a busload of them turned up at the house the other evening? Hartley, I can’t turn them down. I am going to run’.”