Congratulations Not a Change of Heart

It’s a little after 9.30 on the morning after the 2011 general elections that never pretended to be anything more than a bridge to nowhere. As I write things are . . . shall we say, fluid? Never mind the usual election-night street celebrations and the drunken declarations, the popular word is that the overnight score of 10-7 in favor of Kenny Anthony and his St Lucia Labour Party could change—for better or worse—by the time I’ve completed this piece.
It all depends on whether the Choiseul MP Rufus Bousquet really lost by fifty-something votes to newcomer Lorne Theophilus, or whether Allen Chastanet can turn a loss by 59 points to the Soufriere incumbent Harold Dalson into the greatest political upset since 1997. And, of course, there’s the real cliffhanger in Gros Islet, where Emma Hippolyte somehow managed to turn a mission impossible into a personal victory by 15 votes over hot favorite Lenard Montoute.
Will the 10-7 result stand? Or will it be 11-6 in favor of Kenny & Company? That is the live or die question. Could the several spoiled votes prove not so spoiled after all and in the process return Stephenson King to office? Stranger things have happened. Remember Henry Giraudy back in the day, when he lost to Bruce Williams then won by thirty-something votes following a recount? Yes, sometimes a bad night can prove “all right in the morning!”
But more on that in due course. Let us for now congratulate the winners, whether or not winners only for the moment. The losers might say the Labour Party ran a dirty campaign. But then that’s like complaining about the mud in mud wrestling.  Especially in environments such as ours, where politicians depend for their livelihood on the strange fruits of the game, politics and dirt are synonymous. From my own vantage, the party did what it needed to do to win. And they did it well— especially in the last few days before Saint Lucians went to the polls. The UWP chose to curl up and go to sleep just when the SLP had revved up for the last “En Rouge” lap.
Talk about the hare and the tortoise!
As if the UWP did not already have its numerous problems bequeathed them by their departed leader Sir John Compton, they carried on as if determined to follow every rule in their “How to Lose an Election in Three Days” book. Regardless of how the election might have gone, it is obvious the party’s structure is in dire need of overhaul. It is high time its advisors and front-line strategists were put out to pasture. They are no match for such as Leo Clarke and his team, for whom winning was everything in 1996 and has never meant anything else since that time.
The UWP has no clue about public relations. The party’s election strategy centers on “working the constituency” or fixing roads on the eve of Polling Day—learned from the earliest days of John Compton, before the present electorate was born. Much more on that in due course.
Even though Labour’s PR people screwed up royally on several occasions, the UWP was never in a position to score off the foul-ups. Sure, this time around the last mentioned spent a lot of money in pursuit of victory, as had the SLP in 2006. Well, both parties now know from hard experience that throwing money around does not in itself guarantee election victories. Serious attention must also be paid to other important areas. It is also obvious, yet again, that the size of their respective street parties and pre-election jump-ups is no indicator of how the election wind blows.
Finally, a personal word to the newly returned prime minister: I remain convinced you are too much a polarizing figure to successfully undertake the necessary job of unifying our horribly divided people.                 There is much to be accounted for since your last spell in office. Those of us with eyes and ears that actually see and hear need answers that you alone can supply. Grynberg, for one, must be properly settled, not conveniently further postponed. You could begin your new life as resurrected prime minister by demonstrating a new attitude. Prove me wrong, Kenny Anthony. Prove wrong, too, those who think as I do. Prove to the nation that you learned from your infamous treatment of Sir George Mallet. Be generous to the current governor general. The country loves Dame Pearlette. She has conducted herself with dignity and class. She deserves to stay on at Government House, if she so desires.
In the best interests of our country, iron out your politics with Tom Chou. He is as much the politician as you are—and well you know it. He is also the bird in hand as opposed to others who are unpredictable birds in the bush. We need Tom Chou’s assistance, regardless of how his and your government decide to overcome the past. I doubt China wants to know, anyway.
Prove me wrong, Kenny. I would like nothing better, for all our sake. And yes, I have a vested interest in your government’s success—in much the same way I had a vested interest in the success of Stephenson King’s. Those who don’t have a vested interest in the success of their government are really undeclared suicidal maniacs—if not outright traitors to the land that gave us birth!

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