Sir Vaughan Allen Lewis, KCSL
Former Prime Minister of St. Lucia
Sir Vaughan Lewis (born 17 May 1940) is a Saint Lucian politician and a former member of the ruling United Workers' Party (UWP).
Early life and education
Vaughan Allen Lewis was born on 17 May 1940. He received his undergraduate and doctoral degrees at the University of Manchester in England.
Professor Lewis held academic positions as Temporary Assistant Lecturer, Department of Government, University of Swansea, Wales (1963-64), Assistant Lecturer, Department of Political Theory and Institutions, University of Liverpool (1964- 66), Research Fellow, Department of Government, University of Manchester, (1966-68).
In 1968 he joined the Department of Government of The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica as Lecturer in Political Theory and International Relations where he remained until 1972. Between 1972 and 1974 he served as Head, Institute of Social and Economic Research, UWI, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados, returning from there to become University Director of the Institute (now Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies) in 1974 – a post he held until June 1982.
In 1979-80, Vaughn Allen Lewis was Visiting Professor in the Department of International Relations, Florida International University, and Visiting Fellow, Concilium on International Studies, Yale University.
In June 1982 he was appointed Director General of the newlyestablished Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States in Castries, St Lucia where he remained until 1995. In 1996 he was elected as a Member of the Parliament of St Lucia and served in 1996-97 as Prime Minister of St Lucia.
In 1998 Professor Lewis was Visiting Professor, Centre for Latin American Studies, University of Florida at Gainesville, before taking up his position at the Institute of International Relations. He has been a non-resident Senior Associate of the Americas Programme at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, Washington D.C.
Professor Lewis has been a member of the Board of the International Centre for Ocean Development of Canada, of the European Centre for Development Administration, Maastricht, Holland, and Chairman of the Board of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, St Lucia. He has been involved in consultancy studies for the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, among other institutions.
Lewis served for a brief period as Prime Minister of Saint Lucia following the resignation of John Compton. Lewis, a former director of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, assumed the office of Prime Minister on 2 April 1996. He also served as Minister of Finance, Planning and Development, and Minister of External Affairs. In elections that followed on 23 May 1997, Lewis and the UWP suffered a huge setback, losing all but one of their seats in Parliament, forcing him to resign in favor of the leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party, Dr. Kenny Anthony.
Compton defeated Lewis for the UWP leadership in a party conference in Soufrière on 13 March 2005. Compton received 260 votes against 135 for Lewis.
Following this defeat, Lewis felt compelled to resign from the United Workers Party and joined the ruling Saint Lucia Labour Party. On 7 September 2006, the executive of the Saint Lucia Labour Party endorsed Dr. Vaughan Lewis as its candidate for the Castries Central constituency in the December 2006 general election.
Lewis' defection to Labour has been controversial. After losing two general elections in a row, Lewis had the opportunity to win the Castries Central seat in a February 2006 by-election. He then told UWP supporters first that he was the endorsed candidate. He then told them that he was taking time to make up his mind. Finally, he quit the UWP all together and said that he was no longer interested in electoral politics. However, Lewis had been in talks with high ranking members of the St Lucia Labour Party about his defection since he was defeated by Compton in the leadership contest.
More troubling to Labour's top strategists was the fact that Lewis had brought Desmond Brathwaite into the party with him. Brathwaite is best known as the Women's Affairs Minister who was charged with kicking his wife down a flight of stairs in 1994. He was terribly unpopular but became so close to Lewis in 1996 that when asked why he doesn't drop Brathwaite for political reasons, Lewis replied, "I'd rather lose with Brathwaite than win without him." It lead to the most crushing defeat in St Lucian political history.
On the face of it, Labour put up a good front, hailing Lewis, the same man they ridiculed as an uncontrollable drunk in 1997, as a great Caribbean citizen and intellectual who was betrayed by Sir John Compton.
Lewis failed in his bid to win the Castries Central parliamentary seat to the UWP candidate Richard Frederick in the 2006 general elections held on December 11.
Return to academia
Lewis returned to academia and is now a Professor at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus in Trinidad and Tobago. He has returned to St. Lucia occasionally to appear on the platform of the St Lucia Labour Party. He was chosen as part of a task force to explore the possibility of a union between Trinidad and Tobago and The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.
Lewis is co-author, with M. R. Davies of Models of Political Systems (Pall Mall Press), editor of Size, Self-Determination and International Relations: The Caribbean (ISER), and has written numerous articles on Caribbean international relations, regional integration, and on the relations between great powers and small developing states.
Honours and awards
On 22 February 2016, Lewis was awarded the Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Lucia for exceptional and outstanding service of national importance to Saint Lucia.
He is married to Shirley Lewis, a Barbadian who practises law in St. Lucia, and has two children. He is part of the prominent Lewis clan, son of St. Lucia's first Governor General, Sir Allen Lewis, and nephew of Sir Arthur Lewis, Nobel prize winner in economics.