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ALBERT BRANDFORD: Deselecting Lynette Eastmond?


ALBERT BRANDFORD

ALBERT BRANDFORD: Deselecting Lynette Eastmond?

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LEADERSHIP in the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) seems to have a coriaceous hide and a powerful appetite for political punishment.

As if lessons have not been learnt from the ongoing saga involving expelled Christ Church West MP, Dr Maria Agard, the BLP now appears headed for another controversy; this time, over two-time candidate for St Philip West, Lynette Eastmond.

A friend telephoned early last Tuesday about a back page story in the DAILY NATION: JOHN KING IN – Entertainer Wants To ‘bee” The Man In St Philip West.

But it was her next question that flummoxed me: “Has the BLP deselected Lynette Eastmond?”

I could not give the answer she probably wanted since as far as I am aware nominations are far from complete. Still I promised to check.

From the item, I learnt that King’s was one of three names thrown up during a branch meeting last Sunday night at the Princess Margaret Secondary School. The others were reported to be Shanika Roberts-Odle, identified as president of the BLP’s St George South branch, and Don Callender, a retired former soldier in the United States army, who was making his second try for the nomination – the first being in 2013.

There was no mention of Eastmond in the article and no indication of whether she intends to be part of the process when the date for formally selecting a candidate is announced.

Party sources confirmed she was a no-show at the branch meeting and reported that she has not been as active in the organisation as she was previously when under her mentor, the former Prime Minister Owen Arthur, she served in the Cabinet and the Senate and contested the newly created St Philip West seat for the BLP in 2008 and again in 2013, losing on both occasions to Dr David Estwick, of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP).

Estwick had entered the House of Assembly in 1999 from the St Philip North constituency before switching to take up the challenge of the uncharted waters in St Philip West.

The sources indicated that Eastmond has not formally written to the party to say she was no longer interested in contesting the seat under the BLP banner, and further, that no approaches had been made by the branch either, to determine if she wanted a third nomination.

But there is an old Bajan axiom which says that there is always more in the mortar than the pestle.

Eastmond, a forthright and outspoken attorney at law who has served the BLP as third vice-president and PRO, has been in the forefront of recent calls for equity and natural justice within the organisation, which may have placed her on the wrong side of the leadership.

According to the sources, she also may not have done herself any favours when, being a practising lawyer, she accepted a legal brief to represent her embattled former colleague Agard (in association with Queen’s Counsel Hal Gollop, a close friend and former law partner of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart) in a civil suit in the High Court challenging the MP’s expulsion last November 22.

Eastmond was particularly critical in public comments about Agard’s disciplinary hearing before the National Council, charging that it was a biased meeting manifested by the ugly features of table-thumping, laughing and loud expressions.

“You don’t want to go before a tribunal where when your chief prosecutor is speaking,” Eastmond complained, “they [members] are thumping on the table and laughing and saying, ‘Yea, yuh got he’ and that kind of thing.”

She has also taken Agard’s fight for natural justice onto the social media networks, asking in a Facebook post the day after the hearing: “Which one of you does not wish to be treated fairly? Every individual sojourning in this fair land of ours has the right to be treated fairly.

“This is a right born out of our natural sense of what is right and wrong and has been set down through case law. Natural Justice is a part of the Common Law inherited from the British.

“When you become an employee of a company or if you become a member of an unincorporated association the cloak of Natural Justice remains your right. We have heard it said time and again that you cannot be a judge in your own cause and this is one of the basic tenets of natural justice.”

It is a stance, my sources said, that has not endeared her to the BLP’s leadership and for which she may very well pay with exclusion.

Albert Brandford is an independent political correspondent. Email: [email protected]

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