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A vote of confidence



Congratulations to Arnhim Eustace on his re-election to the leadership of the New Democratic Party at its Convention Sunday.

The party rank and file have demonstrated confidence in him and now he must persuade the public that he ought to be the prime minister in 2010.{{more}}

Even though we are still four years away from the constitutional due date of the next general elections, the NDP must now start working to review and assess the defeat at the last two polls and structure the party mechanism to provide effective opposition and demonstrate to the voters that they are a credible alternative government, should the need arise.

The party has at its disposal prime time radio which should not only be used to peddle party propaganda, but it ought to be used for serious discussion on national issues which steer clear of unsubstantiated information.

It’s public relations machinery requires substantial work. This does not refer only to news releases and news conferences but also house-to-house visits to gather vital information and maintain visibility. It is a way of keeping one’s ears to the ground and keeping one’s finger on the pulse of the public.

If its PR machinery continues to spew only propaganda and innuendo, it is unlikely that it will be regarded as a credible alternative and its only chance to occupy the seat of power will not be when the electorate vote them in but when the voters stuff their frustration with the Unity Labour Party into the ballot box and vote out the ULP.

One major challenge he will have is to head and manage a party at the same time that he has to perform the role of Opposition leader in Parliament – two huge management tasks for a single person.


Congratulations also to Sir John Compton for his convincing sweep of the polls Monday. Before he could take office, messages of congratulations have been flowing into Castries.

If there was anyone who could make that comeback it was Sir John who is schooled in every political strategy there is, however of immediate concern is whether he remained abreast of political developments and could bring 21st century political thinking to his government.

In his first interview after the results he immediately said. “Our foreign policy cannot change with every government. A foreign policy must look at the interest of the country. A country has no friends – particularly small countries, you have to look at where your interest lies.”

In fact, he declared that St Lucia will not become “a cockroach in front of a fowl”.

He also followed suit with many of CARICOM leaders in endorsing Cuba.

“As far as Cuba is concerned, we stood up as champions of the initiative to get Cuba to come back into the Inter-American system. I said and I repeat, the United States shed blood in Vietnam, they have made peace with every country including Vietnam, and yet they are still attacking Cuba and bringing their continued Cold War into our hemisphere. It is about time we speak out against these things and get Cuba to reincorporate into the system,” he said, adding that he cannot take sides with the United States “when we think that their foreign policy is aimed at the continuation of the Cold War in our hemisphere. I don’t think we want it.”

Mere saber rattling? Only time will tell but the John Compton of this past week sounds very much like a 21st century cutting edge politician and statesman, from whom, given his considerable experience, much has been given and much will be required. He has much to contribute at the OECS and the CARICOM level and we will follow closely the course the new prime minister takes.

As for his age of 82, he said it: “Age is a state of mind”.