Lately there has been much tittle-tattle about the imminence of general elections, doubtless fueled by one-trick ponies concerned with nothing so much as their talk-show-audience ratings and the concealment of their relationship with de partee. Reminiscent
of Puck, during a recent heady rally the prime minister mischievously added high
octane to opposition expectations with his own knee-jerk, somewhat irrationally exuberant promise that Polling Day will this time around fall in the month of Christmas—a declaration by no means written in stone. There is no law to prevent the prime minister from either proving a larcenous grinch and switching to an earlier time, or to another date closer to March 2012.
Elections in the Caribbean have traditionally been called at times most convenient to sitting prime ministers. At any rate, times judged most convenient. Of course, poor judgment—or over-confidence (I almost wrote arrogance!)—can induce a prime minister to ring the election bell at precisely the wrong time, as doubtless the current opposition leader (if not Vaughan Lewis) would acknowledge, but that’s for another show!
In the meantime, Kenny Anthony and his angry hungry-bellies continue their elections-now campaign that mindlessly kicked off days after the electorate ended their nine-year control of the Consolidated Fund and returned an eighty-something and moribund John Compton to office. To the naturally superstitious, the prime minister’s passing from old age and attendant health complications less than a year later seemed to suggest Lady Fate was of a mind to correct her error of 23 May 2006. Alas, since then the opposition has to no avail proffered daily reasons why Stephenson King and his cabinet should be hounded out of office, among them: the 2006 electorate was duped and should be afforded an off-season opportunity to vote again; a conniving Sir John made campaign promises he could not keep and was later stabbed in the back by at least eight Brutus daggers; voters would not have elected the UWP to office in the first place if not for the leadership of Sir John. And then there was the sticky matter of the new prime minister’s education, or lack of!
Stephenson King has nevertheless proved resilient beyond all expectations, stubbornly refusing to succumb to woes both of its own making and opposition generated, including an apparent palace coup and demands by the public service for pay increases in the midst of a crushing recession. Yes, so what the majority of Saint Lucians would not do prematurely now appears, if only to red-rimmed eyes, at least possible—especially when sweetened with promises of goodies before or after Yuletide.
In truth, to politicians one season alone matters—and its first name is Silly. So, no surprise to hear the all-too-familiar Newsspin cryers pleading for unspecified jobs on behalf of the nation’s youth, while at the same time attacking the government’s employment-generating plans for Hewanorra Airport and elsewhere. There have also been the unabashed demands for publicly subsidized fuel for taxi drivers and for gallivanting gas guzzlers—ironically from the same blathering orifices that earlier had demanded fuel prices in tune with what the rest of the world pays!
Much has also been said about the once dead, now evidently resurrected, police force. The current concern is that the previously lazy, don’t-give-a-damn cops who recently deported four or five notorious citizens to their maker may have acted outside the law they swore to uphold. The disgusting fact that for several years now citizens, with and without criminal history, have been fatally shot without question by trigger-happy cops in and out of
uniform is never mentioned. The current mood, at any rate in certain quarters, is to shoot your mouth off at the police at the slightest opportunity and save reasonable discourse for a later date.
And now we have dueling polls apparently based on eighteen, not seventeen, constituencies. On the one hand there is the poll taken by something called the Institute of Public Policy & Social Research, not at the behest of any local group but out of the need “to test our methodology and prediction models.” Yeah, right. The IPPSR predicts victory by a wide margin for the St Lucia Labour Party but for once there are no sounds of celebration. Conceivably, the bitter lessons of a similar poll in 2006 have not yet been forgotten. Meanwhile, the United Workers Party also claims to have the result of a poll conducted by an outfit closer to home that has them returning to office by the same margin claimed for the SLP by the IPPSR.
Count on it, there will be more polls and more transparent analyses by soi-disant local experts. There will be more demands for tax breaks, jobs for our largely unskilled workforce and higher public sector wages, with no suggestions as to who will pay for such goodies. All of that while the rest of the world, with resources we can only dream about—human and otherwise—desperately seek answers to the world’s worst recession and its relentless repercussions on life as we know it.
Then again, as most St Lucians have been taught: “If you have faith small as a mustard seed you can move mountains.” If we can believe in the demon-chasing, healing power of bottled water in the hands of a total stranger, who will dare tell us the answer to our problems, economic and otherwise, are not to be found in a bottle of cheap liquor and a chunk of refried chicken back?
Hey, is de kolcha, remember?