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Policy, party, candidates or leader

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Editor: My voting choice is determined by a party’s policies, slate of candidates, leader and track record (if there is one). I am instinctively a Labour Party supporter because fundamentally I am a social democrat. This country has a history of poverty and underdevelopment caused by a legacy of genocide and marginalization of its indigenous people, slavery and indentured servitude. {{more}}Although it is true that we have made significant strides since colonial rule, there is much more to be done. I would like to believe that the two main political parties are acutely aware of this country’s developmental needs and the limited resources available to address them.

A party whose policies address developmental imperatives in the context of our current status is a party I am inclined to support. Implementation of programmes borne out of these policies is largely dependent on the human capital (leader, ministers, etc) of the party itself.

This is a summary of my voting history and of the main reasons for my choice:

  • l 1979: Labour Party – Voted the way my mother did.
  • l 1984: NDP – I felt that the Labour Party had lost its way.
  • l 1989: NDP – I felt that the country was doing well, helped of course by the banana industry. The Labour Party lacked convincing leadership and there seemed to be a lot of infighting among its membership.
  • 1994: NDP – Though I started to get weary of the NDP’s complacency and perceived corruption, the Labour Party had not convinced me that they were organized enough to be the Government. I was happy though that they began to make necessary changes, which included an alliance with Ralph Gonsalves.
  • 1998: Labour Party – The wheels had come off the bus of the NDP and the Labour Party had a slate of candidates that were far superior and fresher than the NDP.
  • 2001: Unity Labour Party – The NDP bus was no longer rolling and with Dr Gonsalves as leader of the ULP, the party was in the hands of a committed social democrat and regional integrationist, with superior intellect and a much deeper grasp and appreciation of our history.
  • 2005: ULP – The ULP government had a solid performance and were a more transparent government than its predecessors. It had started to implement programmes that address the poor with an unprecedented focus on education, recognizing that education is critical to poverty alleviation. They had well thought out infrastructural projects; good management of the economy and a progressive foreign policy.
  • 2009: Constitutional Reform Referendum: Voted No
  • 2010: ULP – The ULP with its brave, bold and courageous leadership commendably weathered the storm of the global economic downturn. It implemented capital projects such as the low income and no income housing, the National Library, the construction of the Argyle international airport and the bridge over the Rabacca Dry River. The Rabacca Bridge was a significant groundbreaking project, which finally connected the descendants of our previously marginalised indigenous people, to the rest of the country. Also the sustained emphasis on providing educational opportunities for young people, continued to impress me.
  • 2015: So far ULP – NDP still fails to inspire: the leadership is still lacklustre and unconvincing; the candidates are not appealing (they lack depth and are unable to capture the imagination of young and progressive people); its policies are not clear and have no supporting programmes. Its position on foreign policy is retrogressive and “Uncle Tom,” as (borne out by its consistent intent on trying to second guess the USA, while taking an anti ALBA and anti Cuba stance). Its assessment of the country’s economic performance is dishonest, because when compared to other similar economies St Vincent and the Grenadines is holding its own. The NDP seems to represent the interests of a small undeserving group that are a throwback to the mid 80’s and 90’s waiting to enjoy the privileges they had back then.

The ULP, in contrast, have refreshed themselves with some young and progressive candidates such as Carlos James, Luke Browne, Saboto Caesar, Camillo Gonsalves, Jomo Thomas and Debbie Charles – a nucleus of brains, talent and fresh ideas that offers this country continued hope for the future. The Argyle international airport, despite the naysaying in the NDP camp, is like a “Star Ship Enterprise” project – to boldly go where no party has gone before. It is a project that defines the ULP’s creative leadership, vision and sound foreign policy. The numerous social welfare projects like “Lives to Live” and housing programmes for the poor; the continuation of the exemplary work done in education, especially the expansion of the Community College and the programmes offered to students are some of the many shining examples of a government investing in the welfare and future of its people. The geothermal project is a potential game changer that should lower energy costs which will have positive impact on the business sector and the economy.

We need to choose a party that is not just huffing puffing, hoping to create winds of change, but one whose house stands steadfast, despite the many social and economic challenges that we face. It is only visionary leadership, forward thinking candidates, sound social democratic policies and prudent management of the economy that can move us forward beyond 2015. The party that can best provide this will get my vote.

Social Democrat

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