Having been involved in protests and demonstrations too numerous to mention over the bulk of my adult life, I continue to be a
Having been involved in protests and demonstrations too numerous to mention over the bulk of my adult life, I continue to be a firm believer and supporter of the RIGHT to engage in peaceful protest. In all those years I have never personally been involved in actions contrary to the laws of the land while insisting on my right to oppose what I considered to be actions detrimental to the welfare of our people and to the peace and security of our country.
In the context of the current situation whereby protests are being organised by elements of the Opposition disguised by a variation of the name of the late George Thomas’ classic novel, I would even go so far as to say that the protesters have the constitutional right to do so. We could agree or disagree about the basis or justification of the protest but the response of the government to what could have been political indiscretions on the part of political lightweights, has thrown the door wide open to all sorts of invaders.
Now it matters not what is the scale of original allegations, the effect and political reaction have become the issues. Is the stubbornness worth it? Is the fate of political minors sufficiently important, on both sides, as to lead us into confrontation at a time when our economic and social predicament demands that we focus on national priorities?
Politely asking the Deputy Speaker to step down until there is a court resolution of the issue in which she is involved, in no way implies guilt, as all the main protagonists are aware. Why then allow the simple failure to close the door, to open floodgates to issues bearing no relevance to the significance of the issue? Why has a simple, but important issue, been left to fester and invite all kinds of unwelcome parasites?
Now, whether we approve of it or not, we are left with a political potpourri, with just about every issue being thrown into the mix. If what we have in the glass is “just ice”, we can turn it into justice, if the price of gas goes up then that is justification for the government to step down. I have been in and around politics for a half a century but never has there been such a weird conclusion culminating in a demand for FRESH ELECTIONS.
The basis of arriving at such a conclusion must be puzzling even to those making the demand, so we are told that the basis is MAJORITY RULE. Curiously, that same slogan forms the basis of objection by the Opposition to the conduct of Parliamentary business. Majority rule must have a constitutional basis. It was a concept introduced under the proposed constitutional reform process but roundly rejected by its new discoverers.
It is one thing to criticise, oppose or protest against actions by a government, quite another when you begin to make out a case for “fresh elections”. It must be palpably demonstrated that either the government has demonstrated that it is unable to govern, has lost the support of the majority of the electorate, or that it is in serious breach of some fundamental constitutional principles.
We cannot take opposition on any issue as an excuse to call willy-nilly for “fresh elections”. We have been tolerating this call for more than a decade now, yet each time, those who so advance this call, end up on the losers’ side in elections conducted freely and fairly. What makes it different this time?
It raises the serious question of the judgement of the leadership of the Opposition, once again found wanting. More than a decade after embarking on such tactics and again and again hyping up supporters about victory, the NDP is no nearer victory than it was then. There have been several opportunities, but each one blown because the weak leadership continues to succumb to the pressures of deluded persons in its fold.
As I wrote on several occasions, the country needs a SERIOUS ALTERNATIVE, not a rabid opposition. The ULP needs to know that it has a sacred responsibility to govern judiciously and not to assume that because it has done relatively well over the years, we should ignore shortcomings, indiscretions and behaviour which borders on disrespect for our intelligence.
Rabble-rousing and unrealistic demands are neither getting the NDP anywhere nor providing the type of sound and sane leadership the country needs. It is as though those who run the show in the Opposition have learnt nothing of the rich experiences of the 1970s, eighties and nineties. Do they really expect the Prime Minister to heed the call for fresh elections, eight months after defeating the NDP for the fifth successive time? Or do we need realistic demands relating to the matters of governance ? It is time to lift our game.
l Renwick Rose
is a community activist and social comm