Thursday, April 25, 2024

OUR CARIBBEAN: Sinckler factor in DLP politics – minus Thompson


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LAST SUNDAY SUN’s disclosure of the results of a public opinion poll by the Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) that Minister of Social Care Chris Sinckler, had emerged as the likely successor to the gravely ill Prime Minister David Thompon came as no surprise to this columnist.
A week before the Prime Minister’s health condition had compelled him to suddenly return to New York for further urgent medical atteition, I had told colleagues to expect a Cabinet reshuffle shortly.
What I did not mention was that Chris Sinckler was tipped to be the new Minister of Finance in the proposed reshuffle which could place him as a leadership contender for the future.
As it happened, the Prime Minister, whose healing and full recovery remain a matter of fervent national prayers, had to suddenly leave office on September 7. By September 16, amid continuing outpourings of wishes for the Prime Minister’s recovery, his personal physician Dr Richard Ishmael was to disclose the very sad news that Thompson’s illness had been diagnosed as cancer of the pancreas.
With that disclosure, also came the comforting assurance of Dr Ishmael that the Prime Minister’s “mind,  brain and intellect are as sharp as ever and from a medical standpoint there is no reason why he cannot continue to perform his duties as Prime Minister, albeit at a reduced rate . . .”.
Well, it would seem that Thompson’s “mind, brain and intellect” were also as “sharp as ever” when he had contemplated his Cabinet reshuffle that would have seen the charismatic Minister of Social Care as the new Minister of Finance. 
 Then came the results of the NATION-commissioned poll – done prior to Dr Ishmael’s disclosure. And the political scientist and CADRES director Peter Wickham was left to walk through a veritable political minefield as he astutely sought to interpret the outcome of the poll that was conducted between September 10 to 13 in all of the 30 parliamentary constituencies.
In terms of national leadership preference, Thompson remained the most popular, followed by former Prime Minister Owen Arthur and then Mia Mottley. But on “alternative leadership” there appears to be a clear preference for Sinckler above Deputy Prime Minister and Attorney General Freundel Stuart (current acting Prime Minister) certainly within the Dems base, but with a mixture also of national support.
There remain a lot of “ifs” and “buts” in the national political scenarios as well as options that may be available to Acting Prime Minister Stuart should there be a worse-case development requiring him to become the new Prime Minister.
Since, as Wickham has skilfully signalled, failure by the Dems to carefully manage the “succession” issue could result in a “messy” situation, this also raises the likelihood of a snap general election under Stuart’s watch as incumbent Prime Minister to avoid, I have been told, an open leadership clash with Sinckler.
Informed political analysts also think that calling a fresh election while functioning as Prime Minister could see Stuart seeking the nomination as candidate for St. John – perhaps the safest of traditional DLP constituencies.
In contrast, at present both Stuart and Sinckler are, respectively, representative of St Michael South and St Michael North West – both of which are viewed as “marginal” seats for the Dems and Bees. We simply have to wait on how developments unfold, knowing that in party politics all things are possible.


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