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The ULP will launch its manifesto this evening at Victoria Park. (Photo: Oris Robinson)
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ST. VINCENT:- The ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) will launch its election manifesto at Victoria Park in Kingstown from 5:30 pm today, Dec. 5, one week ahead of the Dec. 13 general elections.

The party changed the venue for the launch from the Argyle International Airport construction site because of heavy rains Sunday morning. Rains also affected the official launching of the party’s candidates at Victoria Park last week Sunday.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, in announcing elections on Nov. 14, said the manifesto is “the main election document” and that the second, a youth manifesto, were already prepared.

“They are full of creative ideas and an activist, people’s agenda for further progress for the next five years, 2010 to 2015.  As always, the ULP is the party of ideas and action,” Gonsalves said.

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He further said the ULP’s policies and programmes for a third term in office are detailed in various publications and speeches by party leaders and are contained in the election manifestos.

Gonsalves further listed the “top ten policies” an ULP administration will focus on over the next five years.

These are poverty reduction; job and wealth creation; economic growth and development, including the consolidating of fiscal discipline, balancing prudence and enterprise; emphasis on ICT training and the implementation of the “one laptop per student” policy as part of extending and deepening the “Education Revolution”.

Gonsalves further said that a ULP government will enhance the “Health and Wellness Revolution”, including the relocation of the main hospital; uplift communities by properly addressing vital areas of concern, including road repairs, sports and cultural facilities; and, make the nation safer and strengthen law and order.

He spoke of the building of a new city at Arnos Vale and enhanced access to Kingstown “through a structured public-private partnership”; completing the Argyle International Airport; and, “delivering top-notch good governance all round, in every area of public policy, including regional integration”.

The launch of the manifesto today falls just shy of the minimum of ten days that Gonsalves said electors would have had to peruse the document.

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The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), which pundits say is a strong contender for the reins of government, is yet to launch it manifesto although it displayed it at a campaign event a week ago.

Social commentator Jomo Thomas told I Witness-News this week that he was doubtful of the impact of manifestos, saying they “cannot affect the way people vote because there can be no serious dissection or discussion on them before the all important day of decision”.

“There are no real implications except to say that political leaders and political parties follow a tradition to issue them. They are souvenirs for the party faithful and provide talking points for the gullible commentariat,” he said.

However, former journalist, barrister-at-law Carlos James, said manifestos are “a blueprint and an indicator” of the type of policies a party want to implement, if elected.

“It is a complete waste of time to publish manifestos this close to the polls,” James, however, said.

He believes that the delayed release of the manifestos denies the electorate any opportunity to have any meaningful debate on the issues the manifestos propose.