The Curse of Choosing between Losers

Winning is not everything; the game’s the thing!” or so my old sports’ teacher would admonish his bedraggled, wet, tired, disillusioned and weary players at the end of a pretty dismal match.
At other times, or so we might believe, it is important to win at all cost, if not for one’s own sake, then for the sake of others, for supporters, the school, or ultimately the sake of the Nation.
There is a difference between winning and losing, of course; but results can be misleading. How often we see an anticipated winner lose a match by throwing it away.
In politics, especially in St Lucia, political parties lose elections; they do not win them, which leaves the country in one heck of a mess.
The St Lucian electorate seems to suffer from the congenital defect of having to choose between the lesser of two equal degrees of incompetence—if not evils— every time they go to vote.
I first came to St Lucia over forty years ago and have lived here permanently for the past twenty. I care a lot for my adopted country. I chose to become a citizen. My citizenship was not an accident of birth. I despair for my fellow St Lucians. They deserve better politicians. It would be a travesty to use the word leaders.
After three years, I recently gave up my position as Chairperson of the Board of Visiting Justices at Bordelais. Nothing was being done. There is no rehabilitation; the officer in charge is seldom there; the CXC program under Mr Constantine for a handful of the 600 inmates is the only noteworthy initiative. Security cameras costing hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars were still not working properly a year after installation.
Requests for special operatives to man the cameras have been turned down by Cabinet. Officers, themselves the object of severe criticism and suspicion of involvement in smuggling drugs and other contraband into the facility, will man the monitoring room. Talk about putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop!
In his prime, John Compton was a leader, autocratic and domineering, but often right and always firm—until he began to “lose it”, which we all will do when that time comes. His successor lost the next election and Kenny & Co took over a country that was still harvesting to a degree the fruits of Compton’s better years.
The SLP did well, fought off the feeble challenge from UWP, and continued to rule, but the downward trend in both success and popularity was beginning to eat at their credibility.
This is what Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, has to say about Kenny:
“During his leadership and his party’s reign, Anthony led St. Lucia to record development in tourism, infrastructure and general economic development. However according to many, that economic development did not equally benefit many poorer St Lucians, many of whom felt disenfranchised by the leader and party they once voted in.
Another area of concern and perhaps a reason for the SLP loss was what many felt was a soft and helpless hand on crime. Together with much economic development came steady increases in violent crime at a rate higher than many neighbouring islands and that caused many to draw comparisons with Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago.
An interesting twist to the elections saga is that many feel that St Lucians went to the polls not to elect a new government but to ensure that there would be a tougher opposition as against the 16-1 majority that the SLP had previously enjoyed.
In a fate of irony, voters perhaps over-compensated for the frequent poll reports and political pundits’ predictions that the SLP would again win a third term with a 14-3 majority.
Many feel that, had Anthony himself not latched on to those poll results, he might have been better able to convince his own supporters that they were not yet in the clear and to turn out to vote in larger numbers.”
In other words, the SLP lost the election; the UWP did not win it. From an almost impregnable 16-1 majority position, Labour was reduced an insignificant 5 seats in the House.
Even this “insignificance” was self-inflicted, a result of crybaby tactics that concentrated on carping complaints instead of constructive criticism.
Can anyone recall one single positive, creative, feasible solution from the SLP during the past four years to any of the country’s many woes?
Wikipedia goes on to say: The reaction of many voters to the crossing over of former UWP Vaughan Lewis to the SLP was not positive. Lewis was a staunch opponent of the Labour government and the former Prime Minister who had lost the elections to the SLP—albeit after being handed the post only one year before the fateful loss. Anthony and Lewis have both stated publicly that all the “bad blood” between them was now “water under the bridge.”
So the view of Labour —the people’s party the party of the masses—under Kenny’s stewardship is one of a party whose policies did not benefit those who had voted it in; Labour “disenfranchised” its own supporters.
Labour, an apparently gutless party trailing wearily and perhaps unwillingly, after Kenny, adopted one of the UWP’s embarrassing rejects, the affable Vaughan Lewis, seemingly demonstrating a noteworthy desire to embrace mediocrity and a desperate passion to do anything to get back into power.
This image of St Lucian politics is not mine; it is the message spread throughout the world via the Internet.
When Kenny departed, and depart he did for many a month to lick his wounds and consider the betrayal by his people, St Lucia was left with an infirm octogenarian who, by his incapacity to turn the pages in any cohesive manner during his rambling, nonsensical, often incoherent budget speech, demonstrated his absolute unsuitability to lead the nation for the years to come —a fact not missed by members of his cabinet colleagues who, too impatient to lie in wait until his demise, struck like vipers at a defenseless prey.
This is what Wikipedia has to say about Stevenson King before and after the elections of 2006:
When the UWP was in the throes of its leadership contest between its two former leaders, Vaughan Lewis and Sir John Compton, King, then the party’s Chairman, was seen as Lewis’ last big supporter in the party.
However he did not follow Lewis into the SLP on Lewis’ loss of the party leadership and quipped on a political platform that, “I don’t follow foolishness.”
After Compton fell ill in May 2007, King became Acting Prime Minister. In a cabinet reshuffle in early June 2007, he became Minister of Finance (including International Financial Services), External Affairs, Home Affairs, National Security, Labor, Information and Broadcasting. It was an ironic twist that King would assume the mantle when the Deputy of the party was overlooked, as just a few months before King had been seen as a Lewis loyalist in the party’s leadership race.
Compton died on September 7, and King announced his death on September 8. King was subsequently sworn in as Prime Minister on September 9.  All ten of the UWP’s members of the House of Assembly agreed on King’s designation as Prime Minister.
King reshuffled the cabinet on September 12; in addition to being Prime Minister, he was Minister of Finance, International Financial Services, External Affairs, Home Affairs and National Security.
Earlier in 2008 Prime Minister King came under tremendous pressure first from the opposition, then from his own renegade government side parliamentarians, to fire Economic Planning Minister, Ausbert d’Auvergne. He subsequently acquiesced and also returned Rufus Bousquet, Choiseul MP to his cabinet. This defused the impasse.
The world, via Wikipedia, does not get a picture of a prime minister who is leading his country. Instead, we see a politician, who is not everyone’s first, or even second choice, but rather a stop-gap compromise, who is willing to do what has to be done, no matter how contrary to his predecessor’s policies, to bow to the renegades in order to remain in power.
Can someone please stand up and tell us what our political parties stand for?
What is your policy on Taiwan?
If not Taiwan, who else is going to fund the many desperately needed investments in this country?
If not Taiwan, who will complete the thousands of projects they have initiated?
What is your policy on job creation?
How are you going to ensure that a child with three CXCs can get a better job than a bagger at the supermarket?
How can you ensure that education pays?
What is your policy on crime? What have you done to identify the source of crime and what can you do to limit it?
What is your policy on corruption in public life?
How can you restrict abuses by public servants who do not attend work, but untouchably collect their salaries every month?
What are your policies on fiscal transparency? How will you ensure that money does not end up in the “black holes” of back pockets either directly or indirectly via the consolidated fund? How will you limit ownership and influence regarding business enterprises by politicians whilst in power and after leaving power?
How will you reform health care and ensure that everyone receives the treatment they require? How will you . . . ?
What’s the point? It’s like asking two teams of blind beggars for advice on what colour to paint your fingernails. They haven’t a clue.

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