The Saint Lucia Labour Party observed its 65th anniversary last Sunday at a rally at the Phillip Marcellin Grounds in Vieux Fort, the constituency of the prime minister and SLP leader Dr. Kenny Anthony. The activity, as usual, followed a church service. The day’s guest speaker was former prime minister of Barbados Owen Arthur.
Soon after he was introduced by local deputy prime minister Phillip J Pierre, Arthur revisited his long “fraternal relationship” with Saint Lucia. “Twenty-five years ago,” he recalled, “Julian Hunte invited me to help unravel mysteries of the Estimates of Expenditure.” It was then he had met Pierre, whom he credited with introducing him to “the delights of Gros Islet” of which his mother and his wife would not have approved.
Jokes aside, for some forty-five minutes the visitor focused on the economic situation confronting the region and on the impacts of globalization. He said Derek Walcott captured exactly what confronts the Kenny Anthony government when he said: “Break a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than that love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole.”
He said: “In almost every sphere of regional endeavour it is as if the vase of Caribbean development has been broken. When we observe the state of affairs of our cricket . . . in the real sense our cricket is only reflecting the state of our society.”
He must’ve set many in his audience thinking when he asked: “When last have we in the Caribbean produced an Arthur Lewis or Derek Walcott? When last have we produced a Sparrow or a Marley?
“Indeed it may very well be that one of the torturous aspects of being small societies is that we experience the occasional burst of greatness which cannot be sustained for a variety of reasons.” “We are large rocks in the ocean . . . we must come to terms with reality . . . these large rocks on which we live, much needs to be done but so little to work with.
“Further, it is as if a vase has been broken; not only because of the distressing state of the performance of the economies but also because of drastic change in the circumstances that constitute the environment within which we, the world’s smallest and most vulnerable group of societies, operate. In this regard a grim form of unity now obtains in our Caribbean,” the former prime minister observed.
He warned the Saint Lucian leader that if they are not careful with their management, Caribbean societies could become “failed societies.” Again referring to small states like Saint Lucia as mere rocks in the ocean, he called for the deepening and widening of an economic partnership within the region.
“The full realization of this must now include Cuba, the Dominican Republic and the French territories. Economic partnership among ourselves must now merit the full attention of the leadership of the region for strong economic growth,” Arthur said.
He advised that Saint Lucia has too high a level of unemployment for its level of potential human resource. He said there was a “skills mismatch” and that an investment in training the human resource of the country would be “the wisest investment that Saint Lucia can make in the future development of your country.”
In his turn at the lectern the host prime minister judged Arthur’s speech as “masterful and brilliant” and promised to feature his address on TV for the benefit of Allen Chastanet.
The “proud leader of the oldest party in Saint Lucia” reminded his audience the SLP came out of the bosom of the trade union movement, then led by George F. L. Charles. “It is a party of the hard-working people of Saint Lucia, created for the people. It is a party of substance and structure; it is a party of values and vision. It is a party grounded in a vision of social democracy.”
Addressing his audience directly he said: “As I look towards you tonight I feel the power of our people; I feel the passion of our people; I feel your excitement and joy. I sense the pride and confidence that you have in your party, the Labour Party. You are saying today that your government is on the right path and you will work hand in hand, side by side with your government as it embarks on its new journey. And you are saying, come the polls you will be returning the SLP back into office.”
According to Anthony his party’s first steps towards promised better days over the last four years “have had to be stopping the days from getting worse.”
“And now our nation has been stabilized, poised for economic growth and prosperity once again provided, as Owen Arthur told us here tonight, we continue to do the right thing,” he added.
Calling on SLP supporters to prepare to vote next election he said: “I believe you who are assembled here tonight will go out and vote for the Labour Party; not because Flambeau is in disarray, not because Richard and Spider and Gail doh like Chastanet; not because Guy and King don’t get along; not because toute bonbon
yo bwilay but because the Labour Party has delivered and will continue on its mission to deliver better days to all Saint Lucians.”
Before leaving the stage Kenny Anthony introduced three new candidates who will do battle at the next general elections for the SLP. The candidate for Dennery South is Jerome Gideon, a schoolteacher; Herbert Roserie will stand for Micoud North and Joachim Henry, former Manager of the SSDF, for Castries South East.
Sunday’s celebration ended with a concert featuring Saint Lucian performers.