Our Readers' Opinions
December 16, 2005
Snagg has set the path for an eventual victory by the ULP

EDITOR: The recently concluded general elections have resulted for the third consecutive time, in defeat for the ULP’s candidate for the Southern Grenadines, Edwin Snagg.

Mr. Snagg must be feeling despondent, as anyone would. It’s no easy sacrifice for anyone to put him/herself up for Representative of an area.{{more}} However, he needs to take comfort in the fact that his own political leader was in the political wilderness for longer than he has been, before being elected to parliament. Therefore, his loss is no disgrace. He has set the path for an eventual victory by a ULP candidate in the Southern Grenadines.

I wish here to outline what I believe are the factors that made it difficult for a ULP candidate to win the Southern Grenadines seat. The single most important factor is the Mitchell legacy. This has its roots in the historical relationship between the people of the Grenadines and the mainland. The Grenadines were woefully neglected, socially and economically, under Milton Cato’s Labour Party, eventually culminating in the 1979 uprising in Union Island.

Mitchell, up until 1989 when the constituency was split, was the lone voice for the voiceless people of the Grenadines. He represented their hopes and aspirations for improved socio-economic conditions of the Islands. In some ways he was a Messiah for the majority of the people who did not have the benefit of a sound secondary education. Indeed, for them to vote otherwise would be tantamount to committing a criminal offence.

It was Mitchell who split the constituency of the Grenadines in 1989 to have a Southern and Northern Grenadines seat. It was, for the people of the former, a historic feat. It has only been 16 years since this was done. This is recent in political history. The Mitchell legacy never faded in spite of the change.

He remained connected with the people, choosing every Representative for the area up to the current one. The people therefore vote for whoever comes in the garb of NDP candidate for the Southern Grenadines. It’s not who can make the better Representative for the Islands. It is emotional rather than rational for whom you vote, for most of the people – particularly those of Canouan, Mayreau and Ashton in Union Island. Had the candidates been reversed for NDP and ULP, Mr. Snagg would have been the winner of the December 7 poll.

Other than the Mitchell legacy, there seemed to have been some disconnect with the people. A party base was not built up in the Islands over the 4 1/2 years.

The concept of “Labour Now” led to the alienation of many persons. The prospective candidate, in his capacity as Senator, was forced to pander to the needs of staunch supporters who wanted revenge on NDP supporters who had ruled the roost for years. They did not see the big picture of 2005. These to me are the core factors that may have led to the ULP loss in the Southern Grenadines.

It’s time for sober reflection and to begin formulating a systematic approach for the next 5 years to see how the hearts of the people can be won over to Labour. It’s not insurmountable, but it will take some reconciliation, inclusion and political education of ULP staunch supporters.

They need to tamper their rhetoric and attitude toward their opponents. Hearts have to be won if change in the voting pattern of the people of the Southern Grenadines is to be achieved. It will not be done by physical projects. If that were so this would have been the case in 2005.

Grenadines’ Patriot