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Peep in yo’ own bowl

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I try my best to be forward looking and to use those events which have passed as merely a guide for the future, so now December 9 has come and gone, it is crucial that we begin to cast our eyes in the direction of what can we do to keep our country on a keel which would ensure progress, prosperity and justice for all. Yet, in the present circumstances, how can we ignore the recent general elections and the unfortunate aftermath? The reality is that we had two major contending political parties which are as irreconcilably divided as in the past.{{more}} Both contested vigorously, spending huge sums in the process. In the end, the political equation remained the same as far as Parliamentary majority is concerned.

Whatever their perspectives and spins on the election results, we have not moved from the 8-7 division in Parliament. Before we either revel in election victory or rail and tilt at windmills, it behoves both parties, and we ourselves as citizens, to do a self-examination. In colloquial terms, we must “Peep in our own bowls”.

For the Opposition, the results indicated how close it had come again and failed to “go over the hump”. Shouldn’t it be asking why? Why after victory in the 2009 referendum, it had failed successively, though claiming that the government had wrecked the economy, to win two more general elections in a row? It is all well and good to rant and rave, but the courts give recourse to any complaints. Why, after all the predictions, after subjecting the Leader to a prophetic beating with 12 strokes, it had again ended up in a minority in Parliament? Are there internal factors which merit serious reflection and action?

Last week, I wrote about an “unprecedented low” when describing some post-election misbehaviour, but it is as though some persons have set out to tell me “is joke yo’ joking”. How can one excuse the irresponsible attacks on the Supervisor of Elections and staff, the deliberate attempt to impugn the integrity of the electoral system? Isn’t the Court supposed to be the arbiter in such matters?

Does one have to resort to hostility, give recourse to rabble-rousers, and attempt to denigrate any person who does not agree with the behaviour of some? That includes even the Editor of the SEARCHLIGHT, falsely made out to be a member of an Observer Mission without subsequent apology, and now singled out for personal attack. There have been allegations of bias against this paper. Haven’t those persons been reading the leading political columns in the paper?

The choice of direction of our country is a most serious one but we do not have to descend to the gutters to get it right. The worst aspect of this is the continued misleading of people opposed to the governing party and the fuelling of hatred and disrespect both for authority and for contrary opinions. Those who do this, and know better, are doing a tremendous disservice to their people and country. Time to have a good peep in that bowl.

On the other hand, the ULP might revel in its victory, but its peep would tell it that while it has a mandate to govern, it has again failed to win any of the seven constituencies held by the Opposition and still has a razor-thin Parliamentary majority. In the face of impressive achievements in a very difficult global and regional environment, should it not ask itself, why?

So, its own sober reflection must be a priority. What is the cause of lingering dissatisfaction? How much of it is due to objective factors such as the economy, and how much due to failings on its part, to perceptions of the electorate, to actions on its part? Take a good PEEP, Dr Gonsalves and company.

There is some small but welcome evidence that the grumblings are being heard. Sir Vincent Beache, has made a sterling contribution to the country, but one would have had to be an ostrich not to hear what people were saying about his continued tenure in office. His decision to gracefully retire is at least as sign that someone is listening and as we pay tribute to his long service, we must acknowledge that fact as well.

It is also a good sign to move in the direction of renewing leadership, and here I wholeheartedly congratulate my long-standing comrade, Jomo Thomas on his proposed elevation to Speaker of the House. The outgoing Speaker Hendrick Alexander has also served the country well, but he too has been a bone of contention. One can only hope that on the other side there is an attempt to give the new Speaker the respect he deserves.

Yes, the ULP too is due for a good peep and we shall continue in this vein next week.

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

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