IN his career first as Director of Tourism and then Minister for Tourism, Allen Chastanet announced all manner of plans, while jetting all over the world at taxpayers’ expense. Even after spending millions of scarce resources it is well-known that he accomplished next to nothing. At least nothing positive! Now, as is becoming clearer by the day, the people of Saint Lucia know that, playing with financial resources obviously freely available to him, the Political Leader of the UWP feels equally free to manufacture marches and parades all over Castries. And we can be sure that he well knows that the paid lieutenants and foot-soldiers following him, have no problem drawing and eating his cash, as long as he feels happy announcing yet another, and another, “successful” demonstration. But then he is fast becoming delusional, even about the numbers in a march the whole world witnessed.
It has not, however, escaped the populace that while, at his parades, he denounces the Government for not doing this, and not doing that, he stays well away from commenting on the tourism industry itself – let us not forget he arrogated to himself the title of tourism guru – since he knows that, as announced last week by the Director of Tourism, our country is making upward and onward steps in attracting visitors to our island, without the wild, and unaccounted for, expenditure, that was characteristic of Chastanet’s era as tourism Director and Minister.
But, as the impressionable Dr Preville found out, money talks, especially as Daddy can afford his own television show, the sole objective of which is to conclude programme after programme by assuring his listeners that Kenny Anthony doesn’t know what he is doing, and that only a government led by business people can bring progress to St Lucia. Naturally, Daddy takes no calls on “his” show lest he be shown up.
What both Allen and Michael do not realize is, that the days of ruling from behind are long past. Allen, a stranger to this country over many years, shows no indication that he understands why, in spite of all that the UWP claimed to have done for Saint Lucia, Kenny Anthony and the Saint Lucia Labour Party displaced the UWP, once again, at the last elections. And much less can he understand why the SLP has survived to experience now sixty-five years year of solid continuous life and service to the people of Saint Lucia since its foundation in 1950, and its wiping away, in the general elections of 1951, of the ruling economic oligarchy that had dominated the lives of Saint Lucians.
The managed ascension of Allen Chastanet to the leadership of the UWP marks the latest attempt by the economic oligarchy to reclaim the reins of power in the UWP, dispatching Stephenson King as incompetent, and most importantly, without the resources to be able to pay for parades and marches, and to pay a number of employed literary hacks whose function, for a few dollars every week, is simply to keep the anti-SLP propaganda going. Allen Chastanet’s ascension also marks a determination that the so-called bright boys who seek leadership in the UWP must know their place as servants of the oligarchic leader, and not as leaders themselves. That, indeed, is the lesson that has been thrust down young Dr Preville’s throat, he having made the “mistake” of believing that, as is the case in the SLP, the possession of brainpower and association with the working class, are among the first qualifications for leadership of the UWP.
Poor Preville has learned the hard and painful way that the real qualification for leadership of the UWP is the possession of a source of money and a clear indication that the leader must listen to those who have the money. Preville thought that he could set the UWP on a new path, demonstrating that the party had the skills and brains to match the SLP. He was soon brought down to the harsh reality of UWP politics as from all accounts, this young man was forced to discover that service to the money-rulers and not a display of brainpower, is the main if not sole qualification for being granted leadership of the UWP. Preville obviously felt, as well, that he could impress the oligarchy in the way that Compton did. But Compton well knew that, no matter what brains he might have had, a leader of the UWP must always listen to the oligarchy or else they turn against him. And that message was reinforced in Compton’s mind when he discovered, in the period of the banana strikes in the 1990’s, that some of the leading money-bags who had supported him over the years, had no hesitation in consorting daily in Mon Repos with Patrick Joseph and Abel Wilson against him – a lesson that, soon after, induced Compton to leave the leadership of the UWP, and plant someone whom he thought would be acceptable, and pliable, in the face of the money-bags.
Today, the battle is now on for the minds of the Saint Lucian people. That Michael Chastanet has decided the economic oligarchy needs to be brought in line in support of his son’s effort, is no better illustrated than by his decision to finance his own television programme, directed, as we saw up to this week, at bringing the money-men before the public to demonstrate why the economic strategy being put in place by Kenny Anthony cannot work. As was illustrated on the latest of his programmes, it was the effective leader of M&C and the Devauxinterests, that he sought to encourage this deligitimisation of the Labour Party’s economic strategy, and to plead for a different approach.
Clearly, the objective of this Chastantet-UWP public relations strategy is to persuade the voting public that it is not the university-educated new class that understands the working of the St Lucian economic system, but those who actually, as they like to think, as business people, make the economy move and grow. And we can bet that, if this oligarchy comes to power, as the foundation on which Allen Chastanet rests, that our public servants will soon find that their university education is disparaged, and is deemed to be incapable of managing the St Lucia economic system on the basis of what some of our businesspeople like to describe as university theories unrelated to how the economy works.
Thus far, the new leadership of the UWP – with Guy Joseph being the factual Deputy Leader and chief UWP Spokesperson in the Parliament, imagine that! – has apparently been left undisturbed by the SLP leadership, and perhaps rightly so for the time being, since the challenges of economic revitalization after five wasted years of UWP Government are enough to fill the plates in front of the Ministers. But a time is surely coming when what must be called the economic crimes of the last Government will have to be brought to the fore, as with the money of the power-brokers behind them, the UWPs undoubtedly now seem to be feeling they can back-off Kenny Anthony and his crew in the run-up to the next general elections.
The lesson of that prospect is that the supporters of good governance must be reminded, over and over again, of the mischief and self-service that characterized the 2006-2011 UWP rule, and the extent to which the challenges of today are the result of both the actions, and the lack of positive action, by what passed for government during that period.