The Politics of Pappyshow

Are St Lucians ready for another ride to nowhere?

I have tried to find answers to explain the political situation that exists in St Lucia today within the realms of political science, but have failed to find satisfactory answers.  Politics in St Lucia from has degenerated to the lowest level I have seen after decades of experiencing election campaigns.  I believe the caliber of men was superior then.
I regard the new entrants into the political arena as comic relief, because deep in the recesses of their minds they know they can’t win, because serious political analysts must conclude that these new parties have no political base or a recognizable political philosophy,  the fundamentals for successfully competing in elections.  They have resorted to attacking each other over petty tissues such as which party is entitled to use  ‘green’ as its official colour, when there are so many profound issues that should be addressed or discussed.  Peter Josie wrote  a thought-provoking article recently about party colours, which he argued should be dispensed with, for party colours encourage tribalism among the electorate, suggesting we go the Barbados way with no party colours.
At the fundamental level any serious politician should know of the imperative that months or even years prior to the period of an impending election, potential candidates should have been on the ground in the constituencies articulating the economic and social problems of the area and the country at large.  I am willing to wager that all the new aspirants of the new parties will lose their deposits.  In days of yore, when a party knew it could not realistically win a seat it would send a sacrificial lamb to be slaughtered at the polls.
Among the critical issues facing St Lucia are unemployment, housing and the social degradation.  With all the negatives that can be leveled against the current administration, from the sudden death of its leader Sir John Compton, to the most debilitating financial crisis in history that has crippled the economies of the entire world; and the scandals and ministerial indiscretions that have plagued the government, Prime Minister Stephenson King has remained relatively unscathed, whilst there is Babylonian confusion amongst the ranks of the opposition parties.  Some may attribute this state of affairs to voodoo or benevolent spirituality.
But I explore instead more rational and conventional explanations.  Perhaps the most critical issue facing St Lucia today is unemployment, with the current work force unable to find jobs and the nightmare scenario of a burgeoning population of the young with  3,000–5,000 students who are expected to leave secondary schools every year, with no prospects of gainful employment, as the traditional employers, the banks, the hotels, the telecommunications companies, supermarkets, or the government service will not be able to absorb those huge numbers in the long term because they are saturated.
Instead of offering  serious prescriptions to deal with the unemployment situation, the main political parties, thoughtlessly parrot such phrases as  ‘stimulus package’ to address the unemployment situation in St Lucia.  The term ‘stimulus package’  has now become a discredited term worldwide, which has been characterized by wanton waste (such as the bridge to nowhere in the US) and has failed to rescue a dying US economy, which threatens to derail any second chance for Barack Obama, the first black president of the USA.
In the local political context, the leader of the NDM’s panacea to solve St Lucia’s  unemployment is a disappointing reference to invitation to foreign investors to drive the economy, without offering any concrete proposals.  When will our Caribbean leaders make a paradigm shift from dependence on foreign investors characterized mainly by hotel developers that destroy our natural landscape and patrimony,  and telecommunication companies that suck the limited finances of our citizens with their relentless marketing which must have a deleterious effect on savings in the country.  Our politicians should be urging our youth to practice thrift in the use of cell phones and promote the benefits of reading and
hard study which are
the best avenues to conquer  the higher echelons of the professional world of work, which is superior to the mindless occupation with  ‘bee-beeing.’
I believe that politicians, particularly political leaders should show respect for the intelligence of the people.  Therefore when the leader of the opposition  pronounces that he will inject $100 million into the economy to create jobs immediately upon getting unto office, this must be greeted with skepticism by anyone with a modicum of intelligence.  Where is the money coming from, certainly not the CDB, or donor countries which are in deep economic straits. I thought we had gone past the days when politicians made false and  grandiose promises at election time to fool the ignorant among us.  This was rightly poo-poohed by Rick Wayne in a satirical article in the STAR promising an alternative $300 million stimulus package from King.
The answer for dealing with the unemployment situation  lies in serious analysis  and implementation of plans for the long term manpower needs of the country.  Any political party should study what are the manpower needs  of the country and institute a comprehensive programme of training on a large scale school-leavers on an annual basis If we do not engage those  young persons in gainful employment or productive training, we will be creating the breeding ground for a nation of prostitutes and criminals.  We need plumbers, electricians, technicians, mechanics and the allocation of vast tracts of agricultural land for the training of agricultural cadets to grow all manner of fruit, vegetables, ground provisions, and exotic plants for food self-sufficiency and export.  Why are we still importing carrot, cabbages and tomatoes from California?  An investment in a serious hotel trades school should be undertaken since the upper-level hotel jobs depend on the importation of personnel from overseas.  The list is endless and achievable if we had politicians with a vision.
I will deal briefly with the issue of housing which is a pet peeve of mine. Except for Sir John who is credited with establishing all the lower and middle income housing projects in existence in St Lucia today, successive administrations have failed to deal with housing as a critical need in St Lucia. A massive programme of housing is needed to address the crisis. There is an urgent need for a rent assessment board to protect low and middle income earners. The private housing market is driven by unscrupulous landlords who charge astronomical rents for small cubicles. The lack of affordable housing for young workers forces them to share, unable to afford the $800.00-$1,000 rental for an unfurnished two—bedroom apartment, in addition to utilities, which makes saving to purchase a home of their own an unachievable dream. Governments must provide affordable housing in apartment complexes
which can be sold to occupiers in the same method used for the sale and ownership of condos. In the long term government must realize that land in St Lucia is limited and the price of private land is prohibitive to the lower income and lower middle income earner, who can never afford to purchase a private lot. Government must provide an alternative to the private market by developing saleable apartment complexes and flats, as exists in large developed countries with vast and unlimited land resources.
In the social sphere, which inspiring politician today is articulating his concerns over the social decadence that is enveloping our country? For fear of offending the electorate they have failed to chastise the young for their unregulated partying, and the adoption of bad habits that are not conducive to black pride and dignity.
They must be taught to resist negative influences and forge a Caribbean identity. The sincerity, courage and conviction of the old time politicians is sadly lacking. The current crop of politicians project the distinct impression that they just want a job. There is no desire to identify the inequities in the society and the desire to make a contribution that could affect and create positive change.
Both the UWP and the SLP of the past were dedicated to the transformation of St Lucia, but with different paths to achieve those ends, one capitalist the other the socialist path.
The socialist ideologues notably George Odlum and Peter Josie were not afraid to challenge the existing establishment, although it never guaranteed them ministerial office and campaigned indefatigably for decades without  getting into power.  They challenged the older folk and the youth in particular to gird their loins for the task of nation building and exhorted the youth to discipline themselves away from mind-altering substances which slow one’s faculties, and urged the youth to make sacrifices in the pursuit of an advanced education in order to take charge of the levers and institutions that controlled the development of their country. They were harsh in their criticism of the youth hanging around the block with their heads in a fog of smoke.  Today’s political aspirant is afraid to point out the negative aspects evident in the society for fear of offending the electorate. They should exhort our young that youth is a fleeting instance in one’s life, and while they should enjoy themselves, they should practice restraint and concentrate on the importance of education.
All the indicators are that the elections will be held sooner rather than later. Contrasting the two main political leaders, Stephenson King seems to be a man who thrives under the utmost pressure for he never displays a stressed out or surly disposition. The leader of the opposition Dr Kenny Anthony has not been able to effectively capitalize on the scandals, the ministerial indiscretions and the economic slow- down caused by the worldwide recession to his advantage. Instead of being front and center of the political battle he seems to be manipulating things from the rear, rather than leading his troops. I do not sense an overwhelming clamour amongst the people to eject Stephenson King out of office.
The elections will be fought on a constituency by constituency basis and not under the umbrella of a party or the stature of a political leader. Election candidates in the past would be elected on the coat-tails of a highly respected party leader such as Sir John Compton, which gave
rise to the old political adage that you can send up a broomstick and people would vote for it because of John Compton. Kenny Anthony, the shining star of 1997, was able to carry 16 men to victory on his name, but that has been turned to base metal, and he can no longer carry any candidate on his coat-tail. Let’s see which political leader can wield that stick.

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