Our Readers' Opinions
February 23, 2016
Don’t go hunting the fading flower; water the bud to bloom

Editor: I find it off, even offensive, the manner in which some persons respond to opinions of Parnell Campbell, QC, former Attorney General and in general, persons of his ilk.


Too many of our political commentators of all persuasions give the impression that the political struggle started with their own personal experience or in the present. Political struggle has never been a bed of roses. The journey has always been long, hard, torturous and violent and it is as old as man. The office is always intended for decent, honest and upright men and women, but the race is never won by naivety, but by guile, astuteness and sagacity.{{more}}

Parnel Campbell, Kenneth John, Carlisle Dougan, James Mitchell, Stanley ‘Stalky’ John, Renwick Rose, Arnhim Eustace and Ralph Gonsalves are all fading flowers. They came, they budded and flowered early. The aroma may not have always been pleasant, but, in the context of their time, they made it both a commitment and an obligation.

Parnel Campbell, Kenneth John, Arnhim Eustace and John Cato, among others, including the now deceased Eddie Griffith and Kerwyn Morris, in the decade 1969-1979, during the Black Power Movement, taught and educated the Vincentian populace on the history and civilization of the Caribbean and the Americas from slavery to colonialism and neocolonialism. Later came Renwick Rose, Caspar London, Mike Browne, Ralph Gonsalves, Simeon Green, and Oscar Allen, among others.

James Mitchell, at age 35, started a political party, albeit short-lived, but entered Parliament as an elected representative on a Labour Party ticket. At age 33 years, Stanley ‘Stalkey’ John entered Parliament, being the youngest celebrated senator then. Carlisle Dougan, one of the brightest young black lawyers, started the PDM, which later joined the EFP to form the DMF, which together with YOULIMO, led by Renwick Rose and ARWE, led by Simeon Green formed the UPM, which contested the 1979 elections under the triumvirate leadership of Parnel Campbell, Renwick Rose and Ralph Gonsalves. All these gentlemen were within the age range mid twenties to late thirties. They were all enterprising young professionals and non-professionals. Today each of these men has, at minimum, 50 years of political experience. We may not at times agree with their rationale, especially when it is clouded by political partisanship, but at least lessons can be learnt from their experiences. Today, it galls me to hear talk show hosts and their callers traducing these gentlemen for either not giving or for giving an opinion on matters of this “synthetic political crisis.”


This political crisis is synthetic, because in every sense it is unnatural. Political movements and or political parties are invariably occasioned as a result of some disturbance in the normal flow of the social life. In St Vincent, we had to stay and fight the incursion, domination and oppression of the white European, through slavery, colonialism and neocolonialism. It was occasions like these that gave rise to leaders like Joseph Chatoyer. He had to fight the intruder, the white European, in order to protect his patrimony. George Mc Intosh had to battle against social injustice, hence his claim to fame in the 1935 riots. George Charles and Ebenezer Joshua had to continue the struggles of those before, seeking social justice. With the coming into being of political independence, the task of Milton Cato and his successor, James Mitchell, was to consolidate the social infrastructure that was already established in the areas of education, health, the Public Service, a highly literate society and a well entrenched social democracy. The major task of both Milton Cato and James Mitchell, however, was to lay the infrastructural development: roads, seaports, airports and telecommunication. Our excellent weather, gorgeous waters and a rich volcanic soil are ideal to create an economic take-off in agriculture, industry and tourism. One may argue that neither Cato nor Mitchell had risen to the task satisfactorily.

Ralph Gonsalves came in 2001. To his advantage, he had the experience of the challenges of his predecessors, a hostile economic environment and a well advanced technology; ideally, the challenges for a good leader. He immediately showed that he is politically dyslexic. He blamed the predecessor administration for everything. He complained that he was dealt a “bad hand”. Tried and tested values and institutions are described as being backward and of colonial relics, so too is anyone of an opposing view. He has, by his foreign policy, literally made us a satellite of the likes of Hugo Chavez, Muammar Gaddafi, Ahmadinejad, and other such rogue leaders.

A plethora of law suits and legislative procedures invariably aimed at suppression and or oppression of the citizens. A classical example is Jomo Thomas’ commentary in the case Teachers’ Union vs the Government. Jomo Thomas, Speaker of Parliament and member of the ruling ULP, in cautioning the governing ULP supporters not to gloat over the fact that the UNION had lost the case, said: “If we do, then we are telling our country either our leaders did not know the Constitution when they signed the collective bargaining agreement with the Teachers’ Union or that worst, they played a trick on the workers to win their support and then jammed them with the law.” (I-Witness News, 16/02/2016).

Ralph Gonsalves’ administration’s legacy can best be described as one masked by treachery, deceit, the preponderance of State and police power, escalating crime and violence, vulgarity, recklessness, a high level of predial larceny, mendicancy and embezzlement by public officers. A classical example of the guile is found on page 13 of the ULP YOUTH MANIFESTO of 2015 general elections. Quote: “Putting in place since 2001 the initiative of paying student nurses to attend the School of Nursing and providing them with a free education.” This is deceit of the highest order, intended to con the unsuspecting young voter. The training of all public officers free of cost with pay is a legacy of the colonial times and was well intact up to 2001. To the contrary, the student nurses are now being paid a stipend instead of a salary.


I understand the frustration. Our young professionals and university graduates are failing to make an impact in the leadership of the country. We need to encourage them. There is too much a culture of fear among our parents and adults, even in the thrust towards entrepreneurship. We need to let caution go and take the risk. A risk-free society can never be developed, neither can the fading flowers return to give of their colour and fragrance. We need to let our buds bloom. Help to water them.

Matthew Thomas