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Soberly reflect on the issues

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After months of speculation, we now know we will go to the polls on December 13.

If the political meetings held last weekend were anything to go by, we have quite a lot of excitement in store over the next four weeks. We should, however, try to not get too caught up in the excitement, but we should take some time to soberly reflect on the issues at stake this time around, and decide which team is best poised to deliver what is best for ourselves, our families, our community and our nation.{{more}}

How do the men and women presented by the two main parties stack up against each other? Both parties have a mix of experienced persons and younger professionals, with the Unity Labour Party (ULP) fielding eight newcomers to the New Democratic Party (NDP)’s four. How valuable are the life and professional experiences of the candidates, especially in assisting their respective parties to achieve their plans and programmes, and in steering St. Vincent and the Grenadines out of the economic doldrums, we, like many other countries, find ourselves in?

We should also consider how well these individuals will perform as representatives, taking into consideration their community work and interaction with ordinary citizens prior to running for politics. Representation is an area in which many politicians, despite performing creditably as ministers, disappoint.

In relation to the policies, plans and programmes, the priorities of the ULP are well known, as they have been repeatedly articulated over the last nine years. Poverty alleviation, The Education Revolution, an international airport at Argyle and the fight on crime are among the top ones. How well has the ULP administration performed? What is their record and will their new-look team have the capacity, substance, energy and will to deliver more?

On the other hand, now that the bell has been rung, there should no longer be any hesitancy on the part of the NDP, to let us know, in detail, what are their plans to take forward the development of this country. At the NDP’s convention earlier this year, Party President Arnhim Eustace tabled what was called the ‘NDP’s proposal for SVG’, in which “tackling the state of the economy” was top priority. The NDP’s record when they were in office should also be considered, even though of the NDP’s 15 candidates, only Mr. Eustace and Burton Williams, the NDP candidate for South Windward, served during their party’s previous 17-year stint in government.

When the manifestos of both parties are made available, and we hope this is soon, they should be compared side-by-side and used to help in our decision making.

What of the party leaders? It can no longer be said that Mr Eustace is ‘not a politician’, which was a criticism which could be argued in 2001 and even in 2005. His performance over the last year or so, especially after the confidence boosting November 25, 2009 referendum, has made it clear that he is ready for Elections 2010, and will not only respond, but will take the fight to the ULP. As a leader of Government, the five months Mr. Eustace spent as Prime Minister did not give us enough time to assess him in that role.

But Mr. Eustace will have his job cut out against ULP Party leader Ralph Gonsalves who is a tried and tested political leader and he reveals in political fights. Mr Eustace should be reminded of Sir James Mitchell’s comments last year that Dr. Gonsalves is “not any easy nut to crack”. In terms of his skills as the leader of Government, these are well-known and acknowledged, not only locally, but regionally.

As an electorate, we should try not to be swayed by the paid and unpaid political propagandists who would want to convince us to come over to their side. Each of us should make judgements based not on what these people say, but based on our own experience and the experiences of the people around us. Each person knows his or her reality and should have confidence in it and not let others sway him or her, with what, in many cases, is scaremongering and lies.

Let’s soberly consider the issues over the next few weeks. Our future depends on it.