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The election bell has rung

The election bell has rung
Ebenezer Theodore Joshua

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The election bell is certainly ringing, but the question is when will it stop? Once the new year rolled in election was very much in the air. Only the Prime Minister has control over the date and that is his secret weapon which can be used even against his own members. Should the possibility of fixed election dates be part of our thinking? If so, it will require fundamental changes to our Westminster style of governance, but that’s for another time. Everyone expects a call to the polls this year. Elections have in the past been very colourful and entertaining, though at times things had gotten out of hand. Some characters have made brief appearances on the political stage and then disappeared. Two stand out. Do you remember the name Sardine Hutchinson, the SVLP candidate for the Southern Grenadines in 1989? The story on the ground was that the Labour Party was trying desperately to find a candidate to contest against the NDP’s Mary Hutchinson. John Thompson was put in charge of that demanding job. He went to Union Island, returned, and indicated that he had found the ideal candidate. No one, at least on the mainland, knew the name and many looked forward to this David who was going to slay the NDP’s Goliath. The meeting at the Market Square to present Sardine to the public was well attended. He was introduced and assured the people that “I’ve got the ‘Key’ in me Pocket”. He then made a circular kind of dance movement. From then on Sardine was pure comic relief. It was later heard that while walking around Union Island Thompson ran into Sardine and convinced him that he was the kind of man they needed. That was how the story went. Well strange things happen in politics.

 There are splendid memories of how politics used to be. A gentleman remembered the days when as a young schoolboy he had to walk with his mother from Campden Park to the Market Square with a chair on his head. People did the same from Sharpes, Lodge Village and all those then rural communities, to listen to Papa Josh. This happened every Wednesday night. As a primary school student my teacher Alphonso Dennie used to take me on Wednesday nights. Joshua was an amazing person. He starts his presentation with a particular issue, then at some point he branches off into a number of other issues and when you thought he had forgotten what he was talking about he would go back to the topic and continue from where he had stopped. In his later days at another meeting there was word around that someone named Stapleton was to take over the party. One night after speaking for a while he started to introduce the man, but then stopped, turned to Mrs Joshua, and said, “Mammy what he name again?”  This was being broadcast so those listening on radio heard the whole thing. A sad moment as he was winding down his political career.

  The tempo today is already changing signalling election tensions. On the streets anger and hostility prevail. Some people are doing things with little fear of politicians interfering in this election year. For some, sadness holds sway as though it is the end of the line. “Things rough”, they tell you. Meanwhile a number of rushed projects are being rolled out in keeping with the five-year thinking of our politicians. But this is not new to the people. What happens beyond those five years is an issue which will, those in authority believe, sort itself out. The country suffers from fatigue even as projects are rushed through. How carefully thought through these are, is a question that has to be asked. But after all, what’s new!

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian

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