KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Supporters of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) who went to its 36th annual convention yesterday to hear what plans party leader Arnhim Eustace has to lead them to an election victory, might have left sorely disappointed.
Eustace, 66, who last year led the NDP to a third consecutive electoral defeat, gave a speech that, at some points, suggested that he was simply biding his time to become prime minister.
At other instances, he suggested that the NDP was very calculating in its approach to politics and its tactics to take government here, and that the private criminal complaints against the government were part of those efforts.
“… it is a mistake to look wistfully at the past year in terms of our [failed] bid to form government,” he told party supporters.
“If you sit here today believing that this party’s aim is just simply to form government, then you have frankly missed the entire point,” he added.
Eustace said that among the purpose of the NDP, which governed this country for the 17 years ending March 2001, is reforming Vincentian government and society and to refurbishing the Vincentian sense of identity.
The NDP, Eustace said, wants “to remake political office so that it answers to, rather than silences, the people; to usher in economic growth and development; to restore the perception of other governments and peoples that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a mature polity with dignified and competent leader; to hold every Vincentian accountable for their action in public office; and to be fearless in so doing …”
He noted that the NDP, in last year’s election, increased from three to seven the number of seats it holds in Parliament, coming just one seat shy of forming the government.
“… only one political party in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has foretold the current economic crisis. In only one political party can it be said that the whole is the greater than the sum of its part,” Eustace said.
“Liken our party, the New Democratic Party, to a single person, constituted, as we all are, of many parts. Liken the annual convention to this person’s early assessments, such as happen with the routine check-up, or such as each of us often feel compelled to do inwardly on our birthdays,” the former prime minister said.
Eustace noted that the NDP was formed four years before this country gained independence in 1979 and said it participated in those struggles and continues to participate in the struggles of the nation.
“There is between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the New Democratic Party a simply symbiosis. The nation’s successes are directly related to those of the New Democratic Party,” the former finance minister said, adding that this country has only experienced “sustained economic growth and social stability” under the NDP.
“Our party must therefore function, reason, behave and look like it intends the nation to function, reason, behave and look. It is the party that leads in this dance,” he further stated.
Much of Eustace’s 87-minute presentation was in essence a rehash of his utterances during his weekly radio appearances.
He spoke about the economy, tourism, agriculture, and the NDP’s “Vision 2020” which outlines the party’s plans for this decade — published in its manifesto for the December 2010 general elections.