ST. VINCENT:- Supporters of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) have used the party’s radio station to call for a boycott of The News, the most widely circulated newspaper in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
They were responding to a question by a Star FM announcer who wanted to know how ULP supports should respond to “attacks” on Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves by Shelly Clarke, editor of The News.
“The way we ha’ to show this man how to get rid ah he and the whole paper, is for us, all Labour people, stop buying the newspaper,” said a caller, who identified himself as Calvin of Rose Hall.
“You think so?” Sehon Marshall, host of Star Morning Scoop, asked the caller on Monday, Oct. 11.
“Leh Shelley Clarke eat he newspaper an’ dem,” the caller responded as Marshall laughed and asked the caller if he was “sure”.
“…We fed up. Who is Shelley Clarke and all ah dem? Leave the newspaper dey gi’ Shelley Clarke, when he see they coming back in he office, all he ha’ to do, eat the damn paper and leave the comrade dey,” the caller further said.
“All right Calvin, thank yo’ so much Calvin. I hear that loud and I hear that clear. … Tha’s wha’ Calvin say. Calvin say stop buy,” Marshall said.
Other callers expressed similar sentiments, with one woman saying that the newspaper should be used as toilet paper while another said, “Let Shelley put that in his pipe and smoke it.” (Go to the homepage to subscribe to I Witness-News)
Another caller said that the government should not advertise with The News, to which Marshall responded by saying state advertisements should be shared across the board.
“Well is the comrade talking … Dennie. I asked a question and is the comrades talking,” Marshall said to his co-host Anthony Dennie.
Marshall’s statements and those of the callers to his show came just hours after Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Jerrol Thompson, told party supporters that the country “came third in this hemisphere in terms of democracy and freedom”.
Marshall said that Shelly Clarke, editor of The News, was using the publication to attack Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, adding, “There is an all out broadside attack on us, as there is an all out broadside attack on our leader.”
“There seems to be a policy of The News newspaper to take an all out broadside malicious attack on my comrade, on my leader, on my prime minister,” he said.
“I want to put it to my comrades. I want to put it to my Labour comrades, because there is an assault on us as a people,” Marshall said.
“So, ah wa’ me comrades call me and tell me how we should show Shelly Clarke that we love we comrade. Lemme know how you think we should show the news newspaper that our comrade ain’ no punching bag,” he said partly in dialect.
Marshall said he had “absolutely no problem with people with divulging views”, adding, “That’s your view and you can publish it”.
“But it seems that the … editor of the news newspaper, Mr Shelley Clarke, has taken it a step further and is using the newspaper that people buy to deal with his personal vendetta — to push his personal vendetta,” he added.
Clarke, a long standing journalist who has also worked in radio, has responded in letters to the editor in The News to comments that Gonsalves has made about him during the ongoing campaign for general elections, due by next March.
Gonsalves has accused the newspaper of being supportive of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), led by Arnhim Eustace.
“I commented the other day that as an editor of the newspaper, you have the newspaper, you writing editorial every week but after an editorial of the paper, you will then go in the same paper and tek up a half page with a letter to push a vendetta against my leader, my prime minister. Why? Why? Why?” Marshall said.
“I mean, how vain is that though? “Dear Editor” and signed “Shelley Clarke? But you are the editor, I can’t understand that,” he added. (Follow I Witness-News on Facebook)
“But I want Shelley Clarke to know that the level of hatred and bad mind that you have against Ralph Gonsalves, there are people in this country who love Ralph Gonsalves and I am one of them. You can’t do that to people Shelley Clarke. Because, every attack that you, Shelly Clarke, make on Ralph Gonsalves with your newspaper is an attack on me,” Marshall further said.
Marshall said Clarke’s “attacks” in the news were “attacks” on poor Vincentians who benefit from the ULP’s policies.
“How then, Shelly, can you feel justified in using a personal vendetta on a man who has worked so hard to uplift the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines? How can you feel justified? A personal agenda is a personal agenda. Why bring it to the point where you feel that The News newspaper must be used as your personal organ to push your agenda?” Marshall said.
“Me have a problem with that. Because, the same poor people whose quality of life has risen over the last nine years are the ones you expect to buy you the paper to provide you a living. The same people who never expected that their children would have gone to secondary school because of universal secondary education or gone to university because of the education revolution. Those are the same people who you expect to support your quality of life by supporting The News newspaper.
“That, to me Shelly, can’t work. [It] can’t work. I know my comrades love Ralph. I know thee ULP, love and support their leader. And Shelly, I think somehow, the people of the ULP need to send you a message and show you that you can’t be beating up on man every week so. It’s not just the ULP, it’s personal and you can’t be beating up on the comrade just so. It can’t happen and we have to show you in somehow, in some way, that while you beating up on the comrade, we ga’ protect we comrade, we ga’ stand up for we comrade, we ga’ stand firm for we comrade and defend we comrade,” Marshall said.