The time has come for Her Majesty’s loyal oppositions in the parliament of Saint Lucia to step up and perform their true role befitting the Westminster-style parliamentary system of government we have inherited from Great Britain.
What Saint Lucians in recent times have been experiencing from the oppositions is way short of what is truly expected from the oppositions.
The true function or role of Her Majesty’s loyal oppositions is to oppose, for the better, the actions of sitting cabinets, while remaining loyal to the formal source of the government’s power, which is the constitution.
What we have had, and continue to have, as opposition in our parliament, is a political party with the second-largest number of seats in the Lower House of Assembly opposing, not for the sake of good governance, but opposing to discredit whatever is said and done by the sitting cabinet, paying no heed to the time when they made up the sitting cabinet and the shame they have brought unto Saint Lucians through bad decisions taken by them.
We say without fear or favour that Her Majesty’s loyal oppositions, in recent times, have failed Saint Lucians in areas of fair, well-balanced and insightful leadership, which has impacted its ability to perform its main role which is to question the government of the day and hold them accountable.
How can opposition parties hold governments accountable if opposition parties frequently dish out diets of half-truths, outright lies, weak analysis of what is taking place in the country and fronted by leaders who engage in petty actions?
Have opposition parties in Saint Lucia over the past 10 years, understand that they are part and parcel of the Government of Saint Lucia, and as such they need to conduct themselves in a manner befitting the Government of Saint Lucia and its people?
Research reveals that the idea of a “loyal opposition” began in 18th-century England to let the out-of-power party express its views without fear of being charged with treason. The “loyal” part means that a party in opposition is loyal to the same fundamental interests and principles as the party in power.
And herein lies another problem with opposition parties in Saint Lucia because the minute they become the sitting cabinet, they stop most, and in some cases, all projects started by the previous sitting cabinet. They refuse to follow the same path of development chosen by the previous party and by so doing give the impression that they are not loyal to the interests and principles of the party that was in power.
At times it seems that opposition parties in Saint Lucia forget that they work in the country’s parliament and therefore need to abide by the rules of that august body even while they scrutinise the work of the government.
Opposition parties are like shadow cabinets, meaning, they follow the work of the sitting cabinets. Sadly, this has not been seen in recent times, giving rise to speculation that opposition parties are either misleading the people, shortchanging the people or unworthy to be Her Majesty’s loyal opposition.
When have Saint Lucians seen an opposition party form a shadow cabinet to examine the work of each government department and develop policies in their specific areas?