I don’t know how to react to the outpouring of nice words from well-wishers writing from behind the nom de guerre they use when commenting (more often than not acerbically) on my articles. Almost makes me want to pretend things at this stage were a whole lot worse than my doctors have advised, except that I know the moment I return to the stable it’ll be back to the usual horse manure. I might as well enjoy the change of weather, whether or not temporary. On a serious note, I can’t help wondering what would life be like on our favorite lump of cooled lava without such as myself to love-hate. Nevertheless, I promise to keep the outwardly concerned posted—regardless of their motivations, secret or otherwise!
But back to work: I read a couple weeks ago in a British newspaper that Ed Miliband is to recast his leadership around a more upbeat message to avoid his party being seen as “wholly negative in opposing government cuts.” Noted the article: “Aides are anxious to avoid the pitfalls of other leaders of the opposition who always start out promising a ‘new way of doing things’ but slip into an easy comfort zone of opportunistic attacks.” (Think demands for more money by public servants, despite the economic times!)
A new book by Nigel Fletcher, How to Be in Opposition: Life in the Political Shadows, warns that Miliband’s Labour must stick to its strategy to succeed, that “the most successful leaders are those who have adopted a systematic formula for repositioning their party to reconnect with the electorate.” The author worked in opposition for the Tories and founded the Center for Opposition Studies.
The cited Independent article came to mind as I read Nicholas Joseph’s piece in last weekend’s STAR, wherein the Atlanta-based Saint Lucian journalist quoted Kenny Anthony as saying his time in opposition had served him well, had effectively afforded him a better appreciation of the plight of the poor and deprived, and should he be elected to office for a third term they can count finally on receiving the milk and honey denied them during the two terms that Anthony’s Labour Party held office—when conceivably the party leader was uninformed about their malaway status.
As I read Nick’s article I was also reminded of Labour’s disastrous performance in the 2006 Castries Central by-election, the then government’s subsequent suspect apology from the steps of the Castries market “for the way we neglected the constituency” and its pledge to make up for such neglect following the year’s general elections. On the evidence, the people were not fooled. The Independent-turned-UWP candidate Richard Frederick twice made mincemeat of his opposition despite Labour’s all-out effort to regain the seat. Obviously Central Castries had had its fill of broken promises.
But back to Nick’s recollection of Kenny’s latest market-steps statement that exposes his nakedness for all to see. As much as his friends conveniently pretend otherwise, Kenny Anthony is no newcomer to local politics: from his earliest days as a rabble-rouser for the teachers’ union, through his time as a worshipper at the radical George Odlum’s altar, to 1996 he has been a politician, covertly and otherwise.
Conceivably his successful campaigns to relegate Julian Hunte to oblivion and to emerge as the final solution to all of Saint Lucia’s recurring problems leaned heavily on his ostensible appreciation of the plight of the nation’s neglected and deprived. Proof that he claimed to know better than anyone else what the people needed is to be found in his party manifestoes and in his recorded one-sided Conversations with the Nation.
There can be no doubt that Kenny Anthony counted on the vote of the island’s malaway to deliver him to heaven’s door. So persuasive was the rap in those heady days of hope for the hopeless, so smooth was his line about deliverance, even the soi-disant haves fell for Kenny. What then to make of his latest promise based solely on his newly acquired opposition sensibility that allows him for the first time to feel the people’s pain?