Beware of the follies of the NDP – Gonsalves
The breaking of diplomatic ties with Taiwan, the selling of Vincentian citizenship and plans to set up a constituency development fund are among the ‘follies’ of the Opposition of which Vincentians should be aware.
As he addressed the Unity Labour Party’s (ULP) first virtual public meeting for the 2020 campaign season, political leader Dr Ralph Gonsalves spoke of several follies of the New Democratic Party (NDP) and warned supporters not to inflict pain on themselves by staying away from the polls.
“If you think in Government you have grumbles and frustrations, try Opposition and try the misery and the poison that the Opposition brings…. Do not self inflict unnecessary pain and suffering on yourself and your children, by not going to vote. I know once you turn up, you voting ULP. I want you to go to the polls and you have to vote ULP.
“The Unity Labour Party will NOT lose this election!” the Prime Minister declared.
The virtual public meeting, which was held under the theme “Lift SVG higher” had as it primary objective to introduce four of the party’s new candidates: Mineva Glasgow of South Leeward, Dominic Sutherland of Central Kingstown, Curtis King of West St George and Orande Brewster of Central Leeward.
Carlos James of North Leeward, who made his political debut in 2015 also spoke at the event, which was chaired by East Kingstown hopeful Luke Browne, who is making his third attempt to secure the East Kingstown seat.
Standing in front of a big white star set against a predominantly red stage setting, Gonsalves, who is seeking to lead his party to its fifth consecutive victory told supporters that he needed them to turn out to vote in order to secure a victory of “at least of the magnitude that we got in 2001 and we can do it.”
In 2001, the ULP won 12 of the 15 constituencies, but by the general elections of 2010, their lead had whittled down to a one-seat majority.
Proffering advice to his audience, the 74-year-old campaign veteran said the Opposition party is “steeped in lamentations” and has no “compelling developmental narrative to offer the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines,” adding that they are possessed of “numerous follies”, which if implemented, “will hurt the people of the country, very badly.”
He said among the follies is their plan to break diplomatic ties with Taiwan and establish formal links with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), a plan he says brings no practical benefits to our country.
“Instead it will result in a massive disruption of the education of dozens of Vincentian students currently at universities in Taiwan. It will disrupt too, all the excellent development programmes between St Vincent and the Grenadines and Taiwan. And what of the immediate repayment of over US$100 million in loans owed to Taiwan by St Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves asked.
While making it clear that he is not against the PRC, he stated that in principle, the further isolation of Taiwan is wrong.
“More over, St Vincent and the Grenadines does not abandon its loyal friends and allies. We must be trustworthy, reliable and principled as a nation.”
The citizenship by investment programme (CBI) proposed by the NDP is another folly, Gonsalves opined.
Re-stating his mantra that Vincentian citizenship is the highest office of the land which must not be cheapened by offering it for sale, Gonsalves added that there are also practical reasons why this is not the way to go.
He said neither St Vincent and the Grenadines nor any other country in the region that sells passports has the capacity to properly vet the “wash of prospective purchasers of citizenship and passports. Thus assorted vagabonds, brigands and criminals who have absolutely no connection with SVG will inevitably get our citizenship.”
Further, the sale of citizenship and passports “breeds corruption and a debilitating quick rich mentality. It is unsustainable… and not a remedy to our challenges or problems…,” the political leader said.
He said already, lawyers, accountants and business consultants attached to or within the ranks the NDP are already “jostling for pole position in the citizenship and passport racket… lining up, though with more hope than expectation, at the trough of filthy lucre.”
Also rubbished was the NDP’s proposal to establish a constituency development fund, controlled by parliamentary representatives to undertake projects in their constituencies.
Gonsalves said such a programme would easily lend itself to corruption, lack of accountability, duplication of effort and inefficiency in spending.
“It is a fool’s errand to appease a mistaken and jaundiced populism of crooked, not straight thinking…”
Calls for the systematic reduction in the number of people on public assistance is also a folly of the NDP, according to Gonsalves.
“It is self evident that those who want to do that have no conscience and ain’t concerned about poor people.”
The membership of the NDP among right wing political groupings such as the International Democrat Union, and the party’s proposed “hysterical” response to the COVID-19 pandemic also made his list of foolishness.
The virtual meeting had, at its high point, over 2,500 live online viewers and by press time yesterday had racked up over 44,000 views.