Now that the euphoria of victory has subsided and the administration settles down to deliver its manifesto promises, it’s wise to take a moment (candidates and party) and reflect on the election campaign, and its results. What can be improved on and what errors are to be avoided in future. Two questions spring to mind: Could the party have won Castries South and did its Castries East candidate join the fight too late? A closer study of the conduct of the opponent should also prove useful.
Another matter which bears frank discussion is the role played by persons such as Rick Wayne, Jeff Fedee and Dennis Springer, plus a few others who may not wish to have their names mentioned, in providing facts and arguments that others ran with, blazing the road to victory.
The symposium ought to analyse the manner in which the defeated are handling the rejection of the electorate. There are lessons to be learned even in defeat. In a brief perambulation in the north, one discovers SLP supporters blaming their leader for Emma’s loss in Gros Islet. They insist that the massive national swing against the SLP was due to its leader, no one else. It would also be useful to verify this and to use it to guide future actions of the UWP and the government. Keep in mind that politicians can indeed overstay their welcome, no matter their majorities.
The elections results prove once again that there is no force more powerful than the will of the people. Mao Tse Tung said it best when he first exclaimed, “The people and the people only, are the moving force in world history.” We saw evidence of this recently in Turkey where an attempted military coup was frustrated by the people taking to the streets and protecting their duly elected government, and their democracy. The people need to know the truth at all times, and to be assured that their politicians are honest and plain talking.
In analysing what may have gone wrong with the defeated party, it’s also instructive to take a good look at the frowning face of the former prime minister in Parliament last week and to note that he has yet to congratulate the new prime minister, Allen Chastanet. Such behaviour is the mark of angry dictators, who think they own the country and the people. Someone opined, “The people may have removed the SLP just in time; if not, only God knows what would become of Saint Lucia.” By the way, did you see the defeated being hugged outside Parliament? Did you notice that there were no pretty gap-toothed damsels, or upwardly mobile young men and women about him? The elderly who were closest him looked an embarrassing carryover from the George Charles era. Their votes may have been spoiled in the June 6 enthusiasm, but the doomed persist as SLP exploitation validates, rather than educate ignorance.
It was the first general elections in some forty odd years that I missed. I was, however, confident that my single vote would not have made a difference in the Gros Islet constituency this time around. One felt certain that none of Spider’s Election Day helpers would have abandoned their work at 4pm and begun celebrating as they did in 2011. This time there would be no six-vote reverse victory and ‘coco-mockery’ as happened at Gros Islet and Babonneau in 2011. The average person is fair-minded and hungers after justice. For this reason the shenanigans of the 2011 elections were bound to weigh heavily in favour of overturning the mischief of 2011.
The timing of the work to be executed needs prioritising. Changes of personnel in foreign consulates and embassies are expected to be smooth and not rushed. The AG’s role needs closer examination. In the English parliamentary system there are three crucial positions in an elected government, i.e. the executive branch. These are Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Attorney General. The government (the executive) can operate with these three only, if it wishes. In addition, the Prime Minister may attach other portfolios such as Education, Health, National Security, Foreign Relations, Housing and Agriculture to the above three.
The Attorney General is the closest confidant and important cog in the wheels of any government styled after the English parliamentary system. The Exchequer (Minister of Finance), the Prime Minister and the Attorney General make up the powerful triumvirate on which the country turns. It stands to reason, therefore, that a Prime Minister will not knowingly select an Attorney General who was appointed by a sworn opponent. There’s no need to point to the awkward and untenable situation as presently exists regarding the Soufriere court matter.
By the way, does anyone recall that the SLP government demanded resignations from persons who served on boards during the term of the former UWP government? How long did the SLP wait to appoint new diplomats? How long was it before they promoted their friends and party hacks to top jobs in the civil service? Have we forgotten so soon?
There is one more troubling matter worthy of discussion. A cabal suffering from a long withdrawal from mental slavery now lectures at UWI and sits on our regional courts. People are afraid of the growing influence of the cabal. That’s why so many will not touch the CCJ. Politics has stained and undermined confidence in the justice system. A white complexion has now become a target for political persecution. One remains hopeful that there is still a handful of honourable men and women left in the legal profession who will properly adjudicate matters according to law, without fear or favour, and not be intimidated by politics.
Finally, the UWP and our government must bear in mind that idle, boastful talk has no place in government, or in politics. Be certain, therefore, that your PRO and press secretary have the facts correct when they speak. Keep in mind that the people, and only the people, matter. Everything said and done by you must therefore be to improve their lives, not make them worse.
Peter Josie was an SLP Member of Parliament for Castries East from 1974 to 1979, being appointed Minister of Agriculture in 1979. He later served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and addressed the UN General Assembly in 1982. He contested the Vieux Fort South seat and lost in 1982 but won in 1987 and 1992