Kenny & Company never looked a gift horse in the mouth!

There is nothing new about the opposition complaint that notices of parliamentary sessions are usually late, leaving little time to study important papers, with negative impact on House contributions. Nothing new either, to learn that the latest opposition complaint is as valid today as indeed it was when John Compton, Allan Louisy, Vaughan Lewis and Kenny Anthony were prime ministers—as valid as the fact that more often than not parliamentarians show up late for scheduled House sessions. Not new, I say, but absolutely disrespectful of the citizens of this country that elected both sides of the House to do the people’s business regardless of personal sentiments.
The Labour Party’s latest excuse to spit in the face of the King government was undoubtedly supplied by the government itself. And no surprise if Kenny & Company set out to take full advantage of the government’s gift, bearing in mind the silly season and its effects on even the nation’s ostensible best brains.
Consider the scenario: the government acknowledges in a House address several months ago that the war on crime cannot successfully be fought when the two sides of the House are themselves perpetually at each other’s throats and unable to formulate a useful crime strategy. The government also acknowledges that no one is safe from the effects of crime, that its perpetrators have no respect for party colors, that it is counterproductive for one side of the House to seek to score points as the murder rate rises.
In short, the government has finally come around acknowledging what their respective records plainly say—that when it comes to crime both sides in their own terms in office had failed the people—and from there pledge henceforth to fight the problem as one united body. Which should always have been the case anyway but has never been!
To hear the SLP’s public relations people, this week’s postponement of a scheduled joint session of parliament that hopefully might have laid down the groundwork for a united fight against crime has angered the opposition far more than crime itself ever did, in or out of office. And I have no big quarrel with that. What bothers me is the sound of the opposition’s fury.
Consider this line from their press release on Monday: “The SLP is not surprised at the tardy and casual manner in which the prime minister has approached this matter, as this approach is consistent with the laissez-faire attitude which his government has had and continues to have towards the crime situation in Saint Lucia.”
Does anything in the quoted statement suggest the opposition is in a mood to cooperate with the government’s effort? Perhaps more to the point, what is it about this administration’s attitude to crime that differs from the SLP’s when it formed the government?  Does this difference explain the Kenny Anthony government’s failure to curb crime in its own time? The smell of rodent is even stronger when we come to the suggestion that the prime minister got the idea for the joint parliamentary session from the SLP’s Robert Lewis, and “it is obvious that at the end of a failed term in government the UWP is seeking to maneuver the special sitting of parliament to try to make last-minute mileage?”
Is this the Kenny Anthony mindset—that the whole purpose of the joint session of parliament is to afford the government some last-minute mileage before the elections? What then was Lewis’ motive when he allegedly proposed the idea? And what if the prime minister had not taken it on board, what then would it say about the prime minister?
By its stated refusal “to oblige the government of the prime minister and the minister of national security in continuing to make a political plaything of the crime issue” what precisely does the opposition hope to achieve? Is the SLP’s goal simply to deny the government any opportunity to “make mileage” from doing the right thing for the people?
I am at this point reminded of the several noisy parliamentary walkouts led by Kenny Anthony—the last related to, by Anthony’s measure, “an unlawful resolution” involving the Ramsahoye Report. Judging by his demonstrated behavior then and now, and not only by his words however heated or heart-felt, it appears that “making mileage” politically has always been, for the opposition leader, a number-one priority—not taking care of the people’s business regardless of the government’s shortcomings or its chances of “making mileage.” What does it matter, whether the government or the opposition makes mileage, if in the end the people benefit?
Refusing on the basis of the government’s making mileage to attend a future joint session to discuss a united front against crime may or may not embarrass Stephenson King. After all, that is hardly a novel Kenny Anthony tactic, as we have seen. On the other hand, coming together despite the government’s presumed “laissez-faire attitude” and its suspected attempt “to maneuver the special sitting” may have provided the opportunity for a serious bipartisan approach to the problem of crime in our time. On the face of it, that opportunity now appears to be as remote as the possibility of an attitudinal change in the character of the opposition party before Polling Day.
As I say, the more things change . . .

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