Election Manifestos: Of PIGS & POOPS

A Manifesto is defined as “a public, written declaration of principles, policies, and objectives, especially one issued by a political movement or candidate.”
The definition is all well and good, except for one important omission: There is no mention of how the policies and objectives are going to be paid for. A manifesto is not meant to be a pack of lies; there must be some reality behind the dream.
By the way, and this has nothing to do with anything, manifesto is one of those words that has two different spellings for the plural form: manifestos and manifestoes; just thought you might like to know.
A Party In Government (PIG) can, if it is confident, brave or foolhardy enough, run on its record. If its achievements have been at no cost to the electorate – as in higher taxes, for example – it can promise more of the same; more of the same, that is, if the sources of funding remain the same; as in “Taiwan”, for example. A PIG tries to convince the electorate that although they have never had it so good, there are even better things to come!
A Party Out Of Power (POOP) also has two basic choices: It can either present its own ideas for the future, or it can severely criticize the performance of the PIG.
Of course, if the PIG has performed badly, yet still has a passable record of achievements thanks to projects initiated by external sources, the POOP has but one choice: Attack the PIG’s source of funding and support!
This strategy has one fundamental flaw: If the POOP attacks the external source of funding, who, unless the POOP finds an equally generous donor, is going to pay for the POOP’s programs if and when it regains power?
So the POOP is in a ‘helluva’ difficult position: If it promises a golden future, it has to explain where it will find the treasure chest to pay for it all. If it attacks the PIG’s record and the successes financed, funded, and to a great extent “pushed through”, by the energetic assistance of a foreign donor, it risks offending the donor and, in addition, undermining its own promises for a brighter future, unless it can clearly declare how it is going to pay for them.
So what does a POOP do? Apparently, it shoots the messenger in panic, and tries to separate the messenger—in this case the ambassador—from his country, which action, of course seriously questions the sanity of the POOP’s leadership and its perception of the intelligence of POOP supporters!
You see, there is no way an ambassador can survive if he constantly, year after year for four years defies the wishes of his own government. An ambassador is not only a servant of his government and country, he is the embodiment of his country in a foreign land. You attack him – you attack his country. He does what his government tells him to do!
“Thanks for the 125 million dollars in aid. We hate you, but you can finance our programs for us when we win!” is not the kind of election slogan any POOP should be running on.
Equally, “As you know, we really, really love you and your money, and once we are in power we can all be friends openly. All you will have to do is recall your ambassador and start paying us lots of loot after the election because we will be the PIGs then!” does not sound like a winning ticket either.
Allow me to digress with a little heresy; heresy is good for the soul now and then. As you may know, the former President of Taiwan is currently serving a 19-year jail term after having been convicted of corruption charges involving bribery. Would that ever happen in St Lucia? Taiwan is a country where corruption is dealt with seriously and charges of corruption are not thrown out lightly, which makes unproven, unsubstantiated accusations all the more distressing and not easily forgiven or forgotten.
How about another digression, purely hypothetical this time, obviously! Imagine a donor country that has relations with another country that has a reputation for having leaders accused of pocketing millions of dollars in foreign aid. Imagine also that the donor country really wanted to make sure that the money they gave would end up being used towards the projects for which it was being donated. Imagine again that the donor country suspected that certain mechanisms were more easily manipulated by people in power than others. And imagine that the donor nation decided that it was not willing to have its money disappear—for whatever length of time—before it could be used for the benefit of the intended recipients, so it sought efficient, transparent mechanisms to limit the wheelers and dealers who manipulate government funds. Just imagine! Now would that not be a noble cause – to give the money to the people?
But back to POOPs and PIGs! Where is a poor POOP to get the money to finance its programs once it becomes a PIG and has to face the reality of paying for its policies? “Free Beer for All” is a fine slogan, but who is going to pay for it? So, all in all, it is not surprising that a POOP spends its time criticizing others rather than presenting its own plans for the future.
On the other hand, looking around, and without mentioning any names, I cannot see any PIG that could possibly run on its record in office without the help of foreign donors. No local PIG, as far as I can see, has achieved much on its own.
Try this one. The POOPs think it is wrong, corrupt and illegal to pay aid directly to the recipients. They accuse the PIGs of being thieves and misusing the funds that are paid openly and directly to village councils.
Somehow, the POOPs want us to believe that these very same PIGs will suddenly become honest, respectful, decent citizens once the funds have been deposited into the depths of the consolidated fund.
Were these corrupt, thieving PIGs (as POOPs characterize them) honest guys with unblemished records before the donors showed up?
Or do they mean that the PIGs are, were and always have been a bunch of crooks and thieves with or without the help of foreign donors? In which case, why blame the donors?
Ever heard of the old saying once a thief, always a thief? It is not the manner of payment that makes people dishonest. If they are dishonest, they will find a way to fill their own pockets, wherever the money ends up being deposited.
I spoke to a very good Labour friend the other day and asked him if he remembered his own ranting and raving about Odlum and alleged mega payments by foreign powers. I also asked if he remembered the UN scandal and the unexplained salaries, fees and missing moneys. You know what his answer was. Yes, there was corruption then, but corruption is now institutionalized, and that is where the problem lies!
Well, friends, if money disappears into the wrong pockets, the people are always the ones who are going to suffer; whether corruption is unionized, socialized, institutionalized or a privatized is not the issue. The money should end up being used for the purpose for which it is donated: End of story!
People are weird, especially in St Lucia. If you are not 100 percent for them, you must be 100 percent against them. The closer we get to election time, the more people tell me I am anti SLP. Rubbish! If you can find anyone who has trashed—sorry, criticized —a Ministry more than I have criticized the Ministry of Education (among others), let me know, because that must have been some trashing!
As for the POOPs, well so far, all they have done is attack the PIGs and their foreign supporters personally. But sooner or later, they are going to have to tell us why we should elect them and how they are going to pay for their programs.
The PIGs cannot say much. We know what has been done in the past years and we know who has done it – ironically thanks to the protestations of the POOPs who never stop talking about how much aid has been showered on St Lucia, and how many projects have been completed, albeit in a manner not to their liking.
Somehow the POOPs have managed to convince their own supporters that bridges, roads, sidewalks, drains, orchid gardens, grass roots projects, hospitals, sporting facilities, and so on, are bad for the country if they are paid for directly by Taiwan.
I am completely non-political. If I were to vote on the merit of our parties’ programs I would have to wait a long time before voting; they all seem incapable of formulating a serious program policy that does not consist of insults and abuses hurled at each other.
So, children, here are a few tips on how to write an election manifesto! To write your manifesto, follow the steps below:
1. Choose 7 or 8 issues that you think are important to the welfare of the nation and its citizens.
2. Try to have at least two local or district issues, two or three national issues and one international issue.
3. Always include Crime, Health and Education.
4. Order these issues according to importance as the voters might see them.
5. Decide how to address these issues.
6. Explain how you are going to pay for your programs.
There you have it! No fancy brochures; no wasted money; clear and simple.
Don’t worry. You are not going to be able to carry out your program—no political party ever does—so you might as well keep it simple. The fewer promises you make, the fewer you have to keep, and the easier it will be to tell the voters at the next election that you lived up to everything you ever promised them!
Very few politicians have the nerve to tell the truth, to face the reality of a situation, to campaign on a promise of austerity and hard work.
Garibaldi when rallying his forces in Rome, first used the famous phrase “blood, toil, tears and sweat” in 1849. Theodore Roosevelt used it again in 1897. But the most famous use of these words formed part of a speech given to the House of Commons on May 13, 1940, by Winston Churchill upon becoming Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Here it is, slightly edited for the sake of brevity.
“We are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history. We are in action at many points—in Norway and in Holland and in the Mediterranean. The air battle is continuous; many preparations have to be made here at home.
I would say to the House as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.
You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs—Victory in spite of all terror—Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.
Now that was a manifesto! But, of course, he had already won the election! And eventually, the Americans helped foot the bill for the Second World War!

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