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Why I am turning back!

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Tue, Dec 9, 2014

Editor: Please find an excerpt of a letter that I sent to the General Secretary of the ULP requesting that my membership of the party be withdrawn.

Dear Comrade Julian,

For more than a decade, I’ve been a student of the politics of Political leader Dr. Hon. Ralph Gonsalves. Over the same period, I oft regarded myself as a ‘critical supporter’ of the party. At the Grammar School, my peers referred to me as ‘black Ralph’ long before his accession to Prime Minister because of the ease with which I could have parroted his speeches and my staunch defence of his vision during political debates and discussions. Sadly today, I am no longer firm in my support of the leader and the party that promoted the ‘Politics of our Caribbean Civilization.’{{more}}

The blueprint in the 2001 book created in my mind at fifteen years of age, an ‘idealism of hope’ of what St. Vincent and the Grenadines could have become through the practice of good governance. The watershed years of the 2000-2001 civil society led movement for change inspired a generation of young political thinkers who had the ‘audacity to hope.’ The political currency in 2001 would have allowed the ULP to really enter unchartered territories in fashioning a new polity; a more sensible balance of power.

I am reminded by the words of the political leader that he did not promise perfection for that is reserved for the heavenly realm, yet I have found it painfully difficult to accept that ours is the pinnacle of good governance on earth. I have also found it extremely difficult to reconcile the party that was ushered in to office on March 28th, 2001 and the party and cabinet of 2014 that have long strayed from the mantra of “Together Now” and the spirit of reconciliation.

The eruption of confusion in my mind as to my politics could be personal; possibly blinded by my own dangling with the opposition party before. However, it could very well be because of my sincere abhorrence of the trend of a serious political divide that has negatively impacted on the livelihood of families and individuals. The horror stories of families-young, elderly and disabled still entrapped by inequity and political witch hunts are too common place. As such, the idea to be a ‘right thinking’ Vincentian cannot be manifested in the recent dismissal with cabinet approval of Mr. Charles at the National Sports Council. To be a noble son of our Caribbean civilization must be to reject the notion that “All are created equal but some are more equal” as was the case of the former Registrar. The litany of injustices and ill-discipline administratively are much greater than the sum parts of my own personal frailties that my conscience cannot ignore any further.

The nature of the politics in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is centred on relationships and individuals. Ours is a small island chain characteristic of strong familial ties. Our political affiliation thus mirrors this bond. As we continue to mature as a nation, this generation at least has started seeing things from different perspectives willing to break away from the stereotypes of the past. The present construct of the electorate was not influenced by many of the forces such as colonialism, Marxism, post-cold war rhetoric and the like. The politics is informed at its base of red versus yellow summed up by the now classic ‘leader vs leader’ electioneering strategy. Unhinged is the idea that the voter rationally debates in any sophistication underlying political ideology that separate the two major parties. Alas, this should have been a natural outcome or goal post – 2001 albeit utopic.

The party itself has failed in its own quest to elucidate the party’s philosophy and core beliefs in a manner relevant to a better educated electorate. Paradoxically, the party has become too elite, too hierarchical away from the days when the leadership ate peanuts at Phil’s bar and socialised on Heritage Square. More contextual though is that there seems to be an apparent disregard for the mood of the public. Calls for deeper changes at State Enterprises and Boards have gone unanswered, more active constituency representation has been greeted with the same lethargy of previous electoral cycles, and the ‘system of governance’ even for the most partisan is inequitable. All these are quite evident in the way candidates have been chosen in this electoral cycle, as members are no longer ‘owners’ of the party, but now simply rubber stamp decisions of leaders because ‘leaders know better.’ History has repeatedly shown that this is a fatal mistake. In some sense, the ULP at present is a ghost of its former self.

The party itself is bigger than any one individual or group of individuals. It is not static. It can be transformed into something more desirable. This will require time and patience. But for whom the bell tolls? Who is tolling the bell? And importantly, who is listening? This to me represents the tolling of the bell for the many voices who do not possess the courage to so do. My disappointment in the party is to an extent ‘universal.’ Many comrades have shared their own sadness with me and the reality is that there is no space for us to impact on the party’s decision making process. To point to the constitutional provisions would be to exorcise dead institutions.

As the next general elections approaches, I want to be free to vote my conscience. I have supported the party dutifully by ballot in 2005 and 2010. I was absent from the country for the 2009 Referendum; however I was not in support of the wholesale package in principle and the failure of the government to be reasoned to the opposition of several provisions. Humility would have shown that a successful referendum bill depended on unity rather than division.

In ending, I leave you with a verse of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, ‘IF’:

If you can keep your head when all about you

are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise…”

Adaiah Providence Culzac

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