The NDPâs campaign from 2001 continued to focus on the hatred, demonization and vilification of one man, Dr Ralph Gonsalves. We could argue that this strategy was born out of the NDPâs realization that its leader, Arnhim Eustace, described as timid by his king maker Sir James Mitchell, cannot stand head to head with Dr Gonsalves on matters of leadership, creativity, and scholarship.
Ahead of the 2001 elections the NDP described Dr Gonsalves as a communist ready to take away one of your cows to give to your neighbour. Instead, all that Dr Gonsalves has taken away is that entitlement the ruling class enjoyed by his empowerment of the poor and working class through his social policies.
These include radically improved access to secondary and university education, ownership of land and homes. The universal access to secondary education increased places even at Grammar School, but this drew fire from one opposition parliamentarian who accused the ULP of “watering downâ his alma mater, which he places highly among his accomplishments in his move to join the new rich.
NDPâs focus on handing out building materials and encouraging squatting kept the people dependent on them. Yet, they sold prime land in Bequia to leading members of the party at $1.50 per square foot, while selling land to poor people on the mainland at twice that price. ULP, on the other hand, had to regularize the property rights of squatters by changing dead capital into live capital through legal title and purchase at prices as low as 10 cents per square foot. It is also the ULPâs $100,000-100 per cent mortgage programme that drove down interest rates on home lending to below 7 per cent, thereby benefiting all Vincentians.
On job security and quality, the ULP modernized the police force by bringing salaries to the same levels of the rest of the public service. No longer is the police force the last chance job and the quality of service has improved with a more educated staff. This is also true with the rest of the public service, nurses and teachers. While many countries are cutting jobs because of the effects of the global economic crisis, the ULP has kept jobs and increased employment in tourism and construction, among others.
The latest attacks on Dr Gonsalves centre around morality and race. The NDPâs campaign invested in half-truths, fabrications, slanderous and vile attacks, especially on social media, while in this two-by-four country, we are not unaware of, as Leacock puts it, the many “imperfectionsâ that most of the NDP candidates suffer from. The less said about this strategy the better, however, for some insight on what Vincentians could inherit if we lose our minds and elect the NDP, we have only to look to the attack on the SVG Community College associate degree programme.
The NDP, in an effort to pull down the “Education Revolutionâ said the associate degrees were not worth the paper they were written on. Eustace and his crowd were in no way concerned with shattering the hopes and dreams of the youths with their ill-advised misconception of the difference between accreditation and recognition. In fact, Eustace was unapologetically unrepentant at the recent SVGCC town hall meeting when challenged, and deserved every boo he got from the young first-time voters. That type of arrogance will manifest itself in poor statesmanship, lack of compromise, and victimization of anyone Eustace perceives to oppose him, should he become prime minister.
On race, we see a cry from the self-imposed wilderness of the mind by Leacock and Maia Eustace, the heir apparent to her fatherâs political ambitions. Both have called for Vincentians to elect a “blackâ prime minister in historic racist campaigning. This cry boggles the mind of any casual observer who would note that Leacockâs wife is “whiteâ like Dr Gonsalves. So too are the cousins of the Eustaces. So too are the main financiers of the NDP.
The decision facing Vincentians tomorrow is the choice between nastiness and love. I am told that Father Mike, who is the pastor of Leacock, Daniel Cummings, Dr Godwin Friday and Dougie Defreitas, told his flock on Sunday that those who demonized people on the political platform are expected to demonize people if they get into office. He also reportedly said that change is not about party colour, but about a change of heart. With the heart being the centre of love and with the ULPâs campaign of love firmly positioned against the NDPâs campaign of hate, the choice tomorrow is clear. Good must overcome evil. Vincentians must put that evil in the dung heap of our political history.