DARNLEY Norville, a dear departed friend, once acted as General Secretary of the United Workers Party and became a close ally of political leader, John Compton. Over drinks one afternoon at his Bonne Terre home, Darnley related his disappointment in a conversation with his political leader. The gist was that the Central Executive of the UWP at the time (early 1970s), was a microcosm of the Saint Lucia electorate. Darnley was not buying it.
Darnley’s annoyance stemmed from his belief that the hierarchy of the party was better; with more dynamic ideas, new energy, and a fresh vision setting it apart. Above all, Darnley believed that the party executive should exude hope for a more united and disciplined party and country. Compton insisted that the dynamics in the party was akin to that within the population – no better and no worse.
At the time of the recalled conversation I had just thrown myself at the deep end of local politics and had left my agronomist job in the Ministry of Agriculture and Tourism, with the government of Saint Lucia. I then started a landscaping business which was supported by contractual arrangements with clients, who paid me more than the monthly pittance from government. Notwithstanding the prospects of a brighter financial future, I had by then set my sights on a political course and had perhaps unwisely, put my personal financial gains on hold, in order to help fix what was wrong with government – and the country.
If anything has been learnt since that conversation with Darnley, it is that John Compton was spot-on in his assessment of the level of ideas, energy, vision, and hope in the hierarchy of the party he founded, compared to the rest of the population. Compton’s observations can be expanded: If the executive (and constituency group) select candidates for elections, they potentially decide the composition of government… and the opposition. Who, (and what), forms the government will reflect the ideas, energy, vision and hope of those who elect. (The ‘who’ is energy and ideas, and the ‘what ‘is vision and hope.)
The corollary is also true. A group of ambitious people can infiltrate a political party or form a new one. It can inject new ideas, energy, vision and hope into the cultural, religious, and educational system. These in turn can affect the mores of a society. The down side is also to be noted. People can use technology to help cunning crooks take over a political party. If such a party of crooks metamorphoses into a majority in parliament the country is bound to suffer … and decline.
Political deviants and their anti-social conduct betray a pedestrian origin and lack of proper upbringing. Noticeably, tertiary (university) education does not completely erase the character defects and poor parental upbringing of certain well known personalities in their public and private avocations.
Armed with the experience of the last fifty years or so, one is able to say conclusively that, what emerges in a political party executive can be worse than the average of the population. Such an understanding allows independent thinkers a more accurate and scholarly explanation (and assessment), of the performance of both government and opposition. From such a perspective it is not surprising that a failed Labour Government would make common cause with a discredited fringe of former UWP ministers, as all are cut from the same cabal.
It has become pellucid clear, (as a former school friend would say); that the Anthony Government is more frightened of the leader of the UWP, and spends more time worrying about Allen Chastanet than it spends thinking about the economy and the creation of new jobs. It is obvious that Anthony’s worst nightmare is Allen Chastanet. He seems determined to work with politicians he once discredited as incompetent and corrupt in order to achieve his ends. Frankly, he should worry more about his new-found friends, than about Allen Chastanet.
Anthony’s UWP ‘friends’ are holding-on by their finger tips at the margins of the party. They wish a return to the centre of the party and will welcome help from any source. But everyone knows leopards don’t change their spots. Chastanet searches for the best candidates to serve Saint Lucia and that simple exercise frustrates the SLP’s game plan and the misguided UWP fringe. Their obsession (and frustration) with Allen Chastanet is palpable.
It’s approaching four years since the SLP was returned to office. Since their return the island has fallen into economic depression, and poverty threatens the hardiest citizens. Instead of being up-front and admitting its mistakes, one of which is spending on unsustainable projects, the government prefers to hide behind a smoke screen of deceit while plotting dirty tricks using the UWP fringe.
Government’s obfuscation further complicates matters. It hides behind a mishmash of legal language; it bends and distorts facts and clothes them as factual. The best example is an address to the nation in March 2015, on IMPACS. The report looked into alleged extra-judicial police killings in 2010. To date the government has revealed precious little on IMPACS and has instead used legalese to hide behind the ‘true-facts,’ as my old Bajan friends would say.
The government also uses a complexity of rigmarole of language which makes it difficult to understand and analyze what exactly it is saying. For example, an agreement to explore the sea bed of Saint Lucia for oil and minerals has resulted in a lawsuit by Grynberg against the government. The agreement went belly-up. It was in effect for seven years and remained shrouded in secrecy and mystery, until the lawsuit. The government has refused to use simple English or, the Kweyol it pretends to love, to explain the oil deal. Only Rick Wayne, perhaps the one truly independent journalist on the island, has attempted to probe the sordid mess.
The government also tries hard to blame outside circumstances for its failure. Its criticism of a World Bank report on the performance of the economy is instructive. At the same time, it relies on external research and information to excuse its failure. It does all that while keeping an eye on Chastanet. Such complex ‘work’ and pressure can drive a man to drink and to use illicit sex as a relief valve.
It is obvious that greed and the hankering after money and property have infected the body politic rendering it too weak to work for the people. Money has become God! John Compton must be turning in his grave to see the same persons he fired from his cabinet, returned to hasten his demise. These same people attack Allen Chastanet, who seems determined to pursue Compton’s ‘Quadrant Plan’ when the party returns to office.
Chastanet’s paranoid opponents want to steal the leadership of the UWP. The people will not allow it. At the next elections, ideas, energy, vision and hope will be centre stage. The discredited UWP fringe and their failed SLP accomplices will be cast aside, if this island is to move forward again. We cannot wait!