Prime Minister for All?

When Kenny Anthony was sworn in as Prime Minister of St Lucia at Government House on 30th November, 2011, there was at least some hope that based on the emotions put on public display by the newly elected PM that we were entering a new era in St Lucian politics.
With a bible in his hand and a voice cracking with emotion the newly minted PM promised to uphold the Constitution of St Lucia. He pursed his lips, paused in an attempt to fight back tears, as he called for unity, and offered an olive branch to the opposition UWP. He acknowledged that no single party can manage the affairs of the country alone. He also stated that he will have a different approach in his governance, for no one will endure what he endured while he was in opposition, and the welfare of the opposition will be attended to.
But at a meeting of the Castries East constituency in Marchand on Sunday, July 22nd, barely eight months into his term Kenny Anthony would launch the most venomous attack on the opposition UWP.
He described the UWP as a cult and its members as followers of a cult that was a cunning enemy, which understands how to use lies and propaganda, and psychological warfare. Was Kenny Anthony looking at himself in the mirror when he made those statements? The election campaign is still fresh in the minds of St Lucians when the SLP propaganda machine was in full throttle, spreading rumour and innuendo on the ground such as, Stephenson King was shielding Richard Frederick from the Americans who were standing by to come to St Lucia to put Frederick in handcuffs to answer to charges related to his visa revocation. Kenny Anthony’s latest attack on the UWP saw the PM describing the opposition party’s members as a group that exhibits blind faith and obedience.
But just what precipitated this venom when what exists in St Lucia today is seemingly political peace and calm, which is in sharp contrast to when Kenny was in opposition? What we have today is a UWP opposition with an accommodating and cooperative leader, known for a disposition that is not rancorous.  In fact when I was Stephenson King’s Press Secretary, with the almost daily onslaught from the leader of the opposition, I never heard King once utter a disparaging word about Dr Anthony.
The distorted characterization that Kenny seeks to attach to the UWP and its followers are revisionist propaganda and a distraction from his inability to deliver on his promises to the people.
In fact if one is to respond in kind to Kenny’s characterization of the UWP and its members as a cult, one can accurately depict the rank and file of Labour supporters as largely uneducated, unemployable and ignorant. For in contrast the followers of the UWP were always identifiable as  aspirational, who had respect for authority, law abiding, good manners, pride and the ambition to better themselves and their children out of the social deprivation in which they may have been born, particularly those in the Marchand area. The UWPees have always constituted the middle class in this country, which has been the engine of growth in the society.
The record of the UWP stands for itself with the evidence that is difficult to ignore all around us. The UWP is the party that is responsible for all the achievements of this country in the physical, economic and educational spheres.
For those who conveniently blind themselves to those realities, I will chronicle some of those achievements. Starting with the recent CARICOM Heads of Government Conference, Kenny was observed strutting with pride as he basked in the enviable physical development of St Lucia a platform laid down by the visionary Sir John against the most virulent opposition of the St. Lucia Labour Party. If left to Labour, Gros Islet would have remained today a mosquito and sand fly infested area, dominated by a swamp.
The construction of the Pigeon Island Causeway, venue for outstanding and high-end beach resorts, was vociferously criticized in articles published by a then naïve Kenny Anthony, who now likes to parade and host visiting dignitaries at arguably St Lucia’s most glamorous hotel, the Sandals Grande, and provides the most awesome venue in the Caribbean for our famous Jazz Festival.
The development of the North presents a vista that is reminiscent of a well developed city like Miami in the United States, and is admired by citizens of visiting OECS territories.
Also created were the Rodney Bay Marina and the vibrant Rodney Bay Commercial area which from my perspective will supersede the city of Castries within next decade. The construction of the Castries-Gros Islet highway, and the East Coast road; Compton also commissioned the establishment of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, and the subsidization of transportation for school children, terminated by Kenny Anthony during his tenure in office, which Sir John lamented as one of the driving forces for his re-entrance into politics when he witnessed school children walking for miles to school, while Kenny’s cronies rod around in tax payer funded SUVs. The attraction of major investments to St. Lucia that could easily have gone to neighbouring islands, but due to the high respect and admiration of Sir John and the UWP they chose St. Lucia. Established were the Hess Oil Corporation, the Sandals chain of hotels and other hotel developments, the Heineken Beer Factory and the Winera Boxing Plant. There was also the extension of Vigie airport and the transformation of Beanefield into the Hewanorra International Airport, and the construction of the Millennium Highway. The expansion and modernization of the Northern Wharf and the construction of the Point Seraphine Duty Free Complex.
The establishment of all the existing low and middle-income housing projects in St Lucia which started with Sans Soucis, followed by the Entrepot Housing project to give the very people in Marchand that Labour would like to keep in homeless subservience for a vote. Those Marchand people who live in one of the most deprived and squalid areas in St. Lucia should confront Kenny and his Labour cronies and ask ‘why have you never built a housing project for us in Marchand apart from what the UWP built?”
Less I tire the reader with all of these projects and industries that have catapulted St Lucia to the apex and the driving economic force of the OECS, I need to finally mention the construction of the ultra-modern government and National Insurance buildings transforming a once fetid slum into one of the most picturesque waterfronts in the region. Apart from the impressive structures that are visible, including the long-range vision of the wondrous Roseau Dam, one of the most radical social programmes introduced by Sir John, is the NIS, again against the most vociferous opposition from the SLP in 1970, urging Labour workers, ‘do not pay NIS.’ Only a cult-like following would follow instructions from a group which calls on its members to perform acts that are against their better interests to benefit their leader, as was also the case for the attainment of independence. Yet the Labour Party observes independence despite extreme attempts by members at the time to derail the movement.
No amount of revisionary talk by Kenny Anthony can erase the facts of history. But we must remind the old generation and enlighten the new, that this new form of insidious propaganda will not work, and even those who did not support the UWP in the past, and were led down the primrose path can reflect on the past and see how much they and St. Lucia have benefitted from the work of Sir John and the UWP.
It seems that the destructive tendencies of the leader of the SLP has not changed or matured, for the social and political destabilization continues, even when the SLP is in power. With this totally senseless attack on the UWP Kenny demonstrates that he does not want peace and stability. He has put a fissure in the society with the insults directed at the UWP and its supporters, displaying a political naiveté of his lack of the fundamental fact that no political party can win an election without the support of members of the other major party.
The irony is that Kenny does not examine the political realities of St Lucia which based on its political history that the UWP since its inception in 1964 has a larger support base than the SLP. From 1964 to the present the U.W.P. has dominated the halls of government by being in power for 35 out of the past 47 years. In comparison the SLP has been in power for a meagre 12 years, with the ill-fated SLP government of 1979-1982, 3 years, and 1997-2006, 9 years.
Kenny’s behaviour in power would suggest that he won an overwhelming victory in the last elections, when the margin of victory was a narrow one in terms of popular vote, with SLP gaining 42,620 votes, UWP 39,336 votes, a difference of just 3,284 votes.
With such a razor thin majority in the votes why is Kenny alienating a substantial section of the electorate?
The reality on the ground is that the economic situation has worsened since the Labour Party took office. And if one is fair, St Lucia performed remarkably under Stephenson King’s administration, with an air of optimism in the atmosphere that has turned into an atmosphere of pessimism. But both governments have suffered the fall out of what is happening in the world economic climate.
Marchand is one of the most depressed and deprived areas in St Lucia. Therefore shouldn’t Kenny instead try to give a speech to inspire the young people to aspire to something better in their lives by dedicating themselves to education and hard work to lift themselves out of the mire of degradation that exists in many areas of that constituency, rather than instigate and perpetuate hatred and divisiveness among the people?
There are more important matters for Kenny to address at the national level such as the CLICO matter which has ruined some investors and left them in tears and what about the Grynberg affair, that threatens to costs us millions. I have always stated that this is a provincial society where everybody knows everybody else’s business. Whilst in neighbouring Barbados, there is a well organized movement to get the principals of CLICO to account and compensate the 35,000 depositors who have lost their life’s savings, which were recklessly managed by the principals who lived lavish lifestyles, with homes in Miami and travelled overseas in private jets. The Barbadians through their legal counsel have asked for a criminal investigation and compensation from CLICO. It is well known that there were connections with prominent persons in St Lucia who were beneficiaries of the CLICO largesse. Instead there is a conspicuous silence here in St. Lucia, with no word from the authorities.
The Labour Party members should condemn the statements of the political leader in the strongest terms. Based on historical and statistical data the evidence shows that the UWP has a larger section of support in St Lucia as their 35 years in government illustrates. UWP supporters will be deeply offended by our Prime Minister’s insults which portray them as thoughtless, unintelligent sheep like, blind followers and inflict the ultimate punishment on him. The conservatives are the ones who control the commanding heights of St Lucia economy. One can envisage all kinds of scenarios under the circumstances.
Kenny Anthony has opened up a Pandora’s box which he will have to deal with.

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