THE United Workers Party will need to do a lot better than it is doing at the moment, if it hopes to convince its supporters in particular and St. Lucians in general that it is ready to resume the mantle of political leadership in this country.
The past three and a half years ought to have been enough for the UWP to fully emerge from the scars of its electoral defeat in 2011 and position itself to make a strong comeback. Admittedly, there have been occasions during that time, when it appeared that this agenda was being pursued and producing results but it appears that for every step the party takes forward, situations arise when its very stability and state of preparedness are being brought into question.
It appears that not even the various players, or factions, as some put it, are aware of the implications for this obvious state of disunity that pervades the party. By far the party’s biggest deficiency, though, is that in fulfilling its role as the official opposition, it has not been able to consistently keep the government on its toes and raise the alarm when issues arise that demand official reaction or explanation. In fact, for a good part of the last these three and a half years, the UWP seems to have been asleep or in hiding while the government marches on with its lack of performance and its failure to account to the people for its handling of their affairs. On most occasions the response of the opposition has been too little, too late or none at all.
From VAT and other added taxes imposed on the population to Lambirds, Grynberg, IMPACS and the state of the police force, the closure of the Forensic Lab etc., mounting unemployment and poverty, the UWP has failed to challenge the government or mobilize any kind of lobby or movement—the fuel prices issue the lone exception– that would have had the effect of compelling Dr. Anthony and his team to take another look at their various policies and actions that were impacting negatively on the people or had invoked their concern. Indeed, the government in many instances, has failed to be accountable and the opposition has equally failed to make it.
Most disturbing is the fact that even with four, or is it five seats in the House of Assembly, the UWP has not recognized the power it has under the Constitution of St Lucia and the rules of the parliament to make the government accountable. In three and a half years, there has not been a single occasion that we know of when the opposition has formally asked questions of the government in the parliament. That, to our mind, is a most dismal performance record for an opposition, especially in the climate of successive years negative growth, the host of social and economic problems confronting the country and the questionable performance of the government itself.
The UWP can best be described as a reluctant opposition that only pretends to be ready to assume power.
We are not suggesting here that the opposition should be causing mayhem in the country, but we recognize that the pool of popular discontent is widening and neither government nor opposition seems to be aware of its extent, or the fact that St Lucians are clamouring for answers out of their collective misery. The government believes, as it always does, that it is doing a wonderful job but it is only fooling itself, claiming “successes” where there are none. It too has failed to recognize the true state of the country today and the sheer desperation that confronts so many people as a result of the lack of opportunity.
There is a serious leadership vacuum in the country and the UWP with its various personalities and their own exaggerated egos and individual sense of self-importance, refuse to come together and show they are capable of filling the breach.
So there is a very good and valid reason why so many are asking: Just where is our country heading?