Time to face the music!
Well the Ole talk is over. It’s time for delivery. Time to begin converting promises into reality. These are difficult
times with Covid still hanging over us. Expectations are great, especially in an environment where poverty and unemployment are of serious concern. The election was hard fought and both parties will have to go back to the drawing board after careful post-election reviews that will influence the direction forward. The ULP can boast of a 5th consecutive term of office, but must have serious concerns. Not only did they lose the popular vote, but after having for the last two months put everything possible on display. Enormous sums spent, promises galore, love boxes, promotion of police officers, tablets given to students at some schools, $500 to persons successful at CSEC and CAPE, in my area of Cane Garden, roads that had not been repaired for about five years being worked on a few days before election, finished but still not finished, projects being pulled out of thin air, it appeared. There was more activity in two months than had been seen in five years; the two contenders for political succession winning their seats, but with a significantly reduced margin. What appeared clear to me is that Dr Gonsalves still felt that he was the only difference between victory and loss. What will be carefully watched is the succession plan which needs top priority. Does the allocation of Ministries tell a story?
The NDP losing for a 5th time consecutively despite all their hopes and predictions, but gaining a majority of popular votes. They have made significant inroads into the eastern ‘corridor’ and witnessed sterling performances by some of their new candidates. They had often to play on the backfoot when denied use of venues for certain activities, but were on the front foot in the early stages of the virtual campaign. Their campaign generally appeared well organised and their leader Dr Friday seemed to have taken the high road. They might also take heart in the realisation that some 64 votes in two constituencies were the difference between victory and loss. But in the final analysis they lost. What is important is how they build for the future.
Dr Gonsalves blamed some 4,000 ULP supporters for not voting. This needs closer scrutiny. The electoral list still had many dead persons and persons living in the diaspora with no intention of returning to vote. For those on the ground who might have been supporters why did they not vote? Is it because of certain issues in their constituencies? Are they still supporters, having not responded to the clarion call to make it 5 in a row? I am surprised that there is no discussion about the swearing-in of Montgomery Daniel as Deputy Prime Minister. Sir Louis Straker was so designated, but the constitution does not provide such a position. Was the Iron Man deliberately put there to prevent the Prime Minister from sending an early signal by selecting one of two obvious contenders for the top position?
We should be on alert having seen efforts by President Trump to override areas of the US constitution. In this new dispensation that hopefully will emerge after this challenging election when there were a lot of lessons to be learnt, our people have to let their voices be heard. Politicians always express concern and make pledges to serve better after elections especially when the electorate sends out certain signals. This does not last awfully long before there is a return to business as usual. I am always amused by calls for representatives to visit their constituencies more often. This is so especially for the party in government. Usually they are afraid of their constituents and their calls to deliver on their promises.
Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian