The local economy needs a boost but none of the government’s initiatives are working.
That is the view of founder of The SVG Party Derek Richards-Jones.
“I think the employment level needs to be increased and I think the education level needs to be increased. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel but there are a lot of little changes that could make a difference to people’s lives,” the aspiring politician told SEARCHLIGHT on Monday.
Born in the United Kingdom (UK) of Vincentian parents, Richards-Jones said he founded The SVG Party in an effort to better the country. He currently has nine prospective candidates and is looking to field a full slate of 15 at the next General Elections constitutionally due by 2020.
“I don’t think the direction the country is going benefits anybody, well maybe a few persons; but I don’t think it helps the country, so a new direction is needed,” he said.
He said The SVG Party is about taking an alternative look at how SVG can move forward and their main aim is achieving economic boost.
Adopted as a young child in the UK, Richard-Jones said he learnt of his Vincentian heritage when he went in search of his birth mother and she introduced him to SVG. He visited in February 2018, fell in love with the country and made it his home.
Giving a bit of information about himself, he noted that in his early life, he worked in construction and later got into technology.
He added that a few years ago, he was arrested and accused of burglary and traffic offences and spent six months on remand. While in prison, Richards-Jones came up with the idea for a secure prisoner email service and when he was released in 2003, without being found guilty of a crime, he started the ‘Email a Prisoner Service’. The Email a Prisoner Service enables prisoners’ families to maintain healthy ties utilising email communication in a safe and secure manner.
He sold the business in 2012 and today the Email a Prisoner service is available in 99 per cent of UK prisons and secure establishments. In 2015, Email-a-Prisoner was the overall winner at the Digital Leaders 100 Awards and also won the Best Citizens Service Application. In 2016, together with the Unilink Technology Group they won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation.
Richards-Jones said that he also works with business start-ups and business development so his skills can benefit SVG.
“We have to make sure people understand the message that we are trying to deliver, and once people can understand I think we stand as good a chance as any of the other parties,” Richards-Jones further told SEARCHLIGHT.
He said he believes people are fed up with the way politics is going in SVG and whether you are voting for the Unity Labour Party (ULP) or the New Democratic Party (NDP), it can be said that the country has not progressed as well as it could.
“We are hoping that if we can get our message across of how we want to progress as a party and as a country, we can win one, two, three four seats in our first go,” Richards-Jones told SEARCHLIGHT.
He noted that their winning seats depends on the support and how much the public is tired of their representatives.
“I hear there are representatives that go into their constituencies around election time only which is quite odd.
“At the end of the day, the ministers are accountable to the people, but at the moment it doesn’t seem to be running in that way,” he said.
The Campden Park resident said The SVG Party is an organization that wants to portray transparency and accountability.
“To back that up, we need to have legislation in place so people know if they have a grievance it is going to be dealt with properly,” he said.
He said that being able to field 15 candidates at the next general elections will show people that they are realistic and serious and have serious people tuned in.
“People don’t need to fear us. If you want to ask us questions, ask us questions. If you don’t understand something come and talk to us, it’s not difficult, but I think everybody should be given an opportunity to show what they can do.
“I don’t think just because people aren’t used to something, they should slam it straight away, because that’s not progressive and helping anybody. So, if you want to come and listen to what we have to say, do it but reserve comments and listen to what we have to say,” advised Richards-Jones.
He added that while he is the founder of the party, he will not necessarily lead the party into an election as the party will decide who is the best leader.
“All I want to do is get like-minded persons together to move the country forward,” explained Richards-Jones who added that he will fund the party along with help from external sources.
He said that he will soon journey back to the UK to finalize some sources of funding as there are many people interested in what the SVG Party wants to do.