ST. VINCENT: – The ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) will on Sunday, Nov. 28, officially launch its candidates for the Dec. 13 general elections during a rally at Victoria Park in Kingstown.
The ULP was preparing for the event on Saturday, even as public relations officer of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), Vynnette Frederick, said, and photographs show, police standing guard as NDP election paraphernalia was being removed from the walls of the Victoria Park.
“We’re fielding our best team yet. And, the NDP is scraping the bottom of the barrel. They can barely find 15 candidates to run! When “Dinky” Balcombe and Margaret “Nah Wash” London both turned out to be unfit for office, they scrambled to find a candidate to oppose the Prime Minister at the last minute. Weak!” the ULP said on Friday.
“As Comrade Gonsalves said recently, ‘I have been in politics for 30 years, and I can tell you that the NDP’s choices this election comprise the most pathetic slate of candidates I have ever seen’,” the party said, quoting its leader Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
Political observers say the ULP faces a tough challenge from the NDP, which was voted out of office in 2001, after 17 consecutive years at the helm.
Pundits have dismissed Ivan O’Neal Green party as a non-starter although the party has nominated candidates for 14 of the 15 constituencies.
O’Neal has said that the candidates would not be named publicly until after the official nomination, which took place on Friday.
He, however, said his party, which gained less than one per cent of the votes in 2005, is poised to win the elections.
The ULP is vying for a third consecutive term in office and its slate of candidates includes eight newcomers and two candidates which were rejected by their constituencies in the Dec. 2005 elections.
The party has shed its deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, as well as its ministers of culture, tourism, social development, rural transformation, and health.
“…our case for re-election does not rest on our significant record alone, important as that is to our credibility,” Gonsalves said on Nov. 14 during a speech in which he announced the election date.
“It rests in part, too, on our vision, our philosophy, our policies and practical programmes, now and for the future. Our party’s quality candidates and quality leadership clinch our case for re-election, particularly in a context where the Opposition lacks any credibility on performance; where it has no coherent vision, philosophy, policies and programmes; and where there is in it an absence of quality leadership or candidates, as a whole,” he said.
Gonsalves has also pitched himself as better suited for the top job than Leader of the Opposition and NDP president, economist Arnhim Eustace.
“A leader’s vision and philosophy are important to consider. The clarity of a leader’s ideas, a history of struggle on behalf of the people, is an excellent guide as to his or her love for and commitment to the people,” Gonsalves said in Calliaqua on Nov. 14.
“A leader’s training, education and life experiences are worthy of assessment and the track record of a leader in office provides a sound basis on which to access his credibility, his honestly, competence, abilities, instincts, character, and performance. Above all, the leader, indeed any candidate, must demonstrate an unbending and unbreakable love for the people,” Gonsalves said.
The ULP has also identified “the five central issues of the campaign which will bring the ULP to a third term victory”.
These are: the ULP’s record of achievements; its vision, philosophy, policies and programmes; the quality of its candidates; Gonsalves’ leadership; and, “the absence of any quality record, vision, ideas, programmes, candidates, and leadership in the NDP”.
The party has also articulated some of its policies, projects and strategies for a third term in office.
These include the further deepening of the education revolution; the relocation of the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital; the creation of a city at Arnos Vale; rejuvenation of the agricultural sector; and, projects for wind, solar and geothermal energy.
The NDP has described Gonsalves as a maximum, dictatorial leader who victimizes his opponents.
“Our country cannot exist, cannot develop, on the basis of half of the population. It can only develop if all of our people have the opportunity to share in the cake: if all of our people have the opportunity to a job; if all of our people have the opportunity to look after their families in a better way,” Eustace said at a campaign event on Thursday.
“Come 2011, there will be a new dawn, a brighter St. Vincent, a freer St. Vincent, an end to tyranny, an end to dictatorship, an end to corruption, and we will produce for you the St. Vincent that we know you have always deserved,” NDP vice president Senator St. Clair Leacock said at the same event.
But the ULP has attempted to market its candidates as “a perfect combination of experienced leaders and fresh, bold go-getters”.
The party describes its candidates in the following terms:
- Dr Ralph Gonsalves (North Central Windward) – A strong leader for serious times.
- David Browne (South Leeward) – A farmer who understands our needs.
- Michelle Fife (West Kingstown) – An exemplary public servant.
- Elvis Charles (Central Kingstown) – An educator committed to our kids and our community.
- Dr Jerrol Thompson (North Leeward) – A doctor with a vision.
- Girlyn Miguel (Marriaqua)- A champion for our children
- Montgomery Daniel (North Windward) – Developing our farms, helping our farmers
- Saboto Caesar (South Central Windward) – Keeping progress alive
- Frederick Stephenson (South Windward) – A vision for South Windward
- Clayton Burgin (East St. George) – A son of the soil
- Cecil McKie (West St. George) – A man with a heart for the people
- Luke Browne (East Kingstown) – A real go getter
- Maxwell Charles (Central Leeward) – A servant of the people
- Edwin Snagg (Southern Grenadines) – Respected at home and abroad
- Herman Belmar (Northern Grenadines) – A strong voice for the Grenadines