I AM READY TO RUMBLE – GONSALVES
by KATHERINE RENTON
“I ready to rumble” Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has declared after “ringing the bell” at a special virtual meeting yesterday, October 8, as his party seeks to win “five in a row” this November 5.
“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, a lot of writing, a lot of reading and preparing for this battle. I want to assure everyone that I am in a good frame of mind,” the Prime Minister stated, speaking as the political leader for the ULP and the candidate for North Central Windward.
His party has won four consecutive terms in office since their first win on March 28, 2001; the last general election of December 2015, was won with eight seats, over the Opposition, New Democratic Party( NDP)’s seven.
Speaking to “them” he informed that his back is still broad.
“I am ancient warrior and you can lick me up, you can knock me down and I get up back. I’m a haaard man for dead.”
“It doesn’t matter what they bring during this campaign – the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines will make their decisions on the basis of what we have achieved, what we are doing and the plans that we have,” he declared, while ULP candidates Saboto Caesar, Camillo Gonsalves, Mineva Glasgow, and Carlos James sat behind him on the stage.
The virtual meeting of Thursday night was preceded by a motorcade after Parliament’s sitting, and the end of the Prime Minister’s 14-day quarantine after travelling from the United States.
Gonsalves informed that he has completed the manifesto while in quarantine, and it is with the printers.
“The Unity Labour Party manifesto 2020 “Lifting SVG Higher” – our vision with enduring labour love. Five in a row,” he commented.
“Don’t think that we do thing by half measures. When I tell you I ready to rumble, I ready to rumble. We rumbling,” he noted.
In his speech, Gonsalves explained that having thought of “Lift Jesus higher” one night recently, from this “It (the theme) came into my head: lift SVG higher.”
“We have an interest in a high turnout, the ULP has an interest in a high turn out because once our people turn out, our Labour people and the young people, we bound to win the election big,” he continued.
Therefore, when persons see that the citizens in the United States are being encouraged to come out and vote at their election on November 3, he believes this will encourage persons here to come out and vote.
Commenting on the change in his usual trend of calling elections in December, the Prime Minister revealed “there’s a spirit which guides and I had to follow the spirit.”
During his speech the political leader touched on a number of areas, telling those listening that the ULP have embarked on a transformation of the economy and the society.
“The Education revolution, poverty reduction, Argyle International Airport, the Canouan jet airport, the Rabacca Bridge, the ICT revolution involving telecommunications competition,” are the six intiatives out of which others followed involving housing and health and sport and culture.
Countering concerns about the level of unemployment in the country, Gonsalves indicated that the number of persons employed between 2001 and 2012, the two censuses, has increased from 900 to 6000. Referencing National Insurance Service figures, he said that over 12,000 more persons are paying NIS in 2019, compared to 2001.
“In that period we reduced poverty, and more particularly indigence from 26 per cent of the population to 3 per cent of the population,” he noted.
He spoke about the education revolution and listed that close to 400 tuition scholarships were granted by the Government this year, separate and apart from foreign country ally scholarships.
“When you look in this manifesto you will find items, specific proposals dealing with ten different types of economies,” he informed.
“The green economy which involves, among other things, renewable energy, solar, geothermal, involved the blue economy, the marine resources of the sea and the beaches used for tourism is part of the blue economy, the smart economy, which is about technology and knowledge, the competitive many-sided economy…” Gonsalves stated.
“Making sure that we
don’t base our economy on a Lotto called selling passports and selling citizenship, an inclusive economy for everybody to benefit, a moral economy,” he quipped, in a reference to Citizenship by Investment, one of the Opposition’s proposed plans.
The Prime Minister referenced figures to show that the economy in SVG is projected to decline to a significantly less degree that our Caribbean neighbours during this time of Covid-19.
He said the reasons for this, the first of which is the nature of the economy, and the second is “is because we didn’t lock down, we didn’t state of the emergency, we didn’t curfew, we didn’t use as they ask, draconian Chinese methods.”
When it comes to Covid-19 measures, “Because of the decisions which we have taken, and we have proven to be correct, and the leadership that we have provided, that alone deserve for us to be re-elected massively come November the 5th,” he contended.
At the end of his speech, the Prime Minister concluded, “Austerity is a wrong and dangerous idea for St Vincent and the Grenadines. What we have is prudence and enterprise but above all else what we have is love…love…Labour love.”
Once again prodding their rival, the Opposition, Gonsalves commented, “We are not a party of anger. You want to hear anger, listen to the NDP.” “You want anger, you want venom and vitriol listen to the NDP,” he added.
He warned their “labour family” against grumbling and frustration between then and the elections, and said they have a lot of work to do on the campaign.
“We have a magnificent team, excellent policies and programs. We are running on our record – it will be five in a row. And I want all on St Vincent… and Friday, Carlos Williams keeping you in Bequia, you hear me? Five in a row” he concluded.