The ruling Unity Labour Party on Sunday celebrated 21 years since its formation on Oct. 16, 1994, with party leader, Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves, saying that the party has achieved his vision of becoming “the natural party of governance of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“And we are the natural party of governance since our founding, because in 17 years, since I became leader, and in 21 years since this party was founded, we are in government for 15 of those 21 years, and God’s willing, with your help, we will be there for another five years, four in a row,” Gonsalves told a celebration rally in Layou Sunday night.
The ULP is the result of a merger of the then Gonsalves-led Movement for National Unity (MNU) and the St. Vincent Labour Party (SVGLP), led by Vincent Beache.
Political observers back then described the SVLP as a party without a leader and the MNU as a leader without a party.
“And we have had monumental achievement,” Gonsalves said of the ULP, noting that the ULP won seven of the eight parliamentary seats in 1998 but got 55 per cent of the votes.
The ULP won the 2001 elections 12 seats to the main opposition New Democratic Party’s three, and Gonsalves said, “since then, we have not looked back”.
He said that on the platform at Sunday’s rally were stalwarts of the early period of the ULP, including its first leaders, Vincent Beache.
Gonsalves cited the Bible, saying that a metaphoric New Jerusalem is promised in the book of Isaiah.
“And this New Jerusalem doesn’t happen by chance. For this metaphoric new Jerusalem, a land in which we do not have people going to bed without food, where we have adequate shelter for people, where their opportunities are taken and they develop their God-given talents, and we live in peace, and we live in harmony and we live in love, we live caring for one another [under] the sovereignty of Almighty God. It is possible for us to do it, but we have to work together in love and in caring,” Gonsalves said.
The Prime Minister told party supporters that they should rejoice.
He noted that SVG’s main resource is its people.
“And to get the maximum out of people, you have to train their minds and their hands, and you have to get the understanding of life and living and production and prepare the conditions that they could apply their hearts to wisdom and act in faith, knowing that faith is not something abstract, that it is made complete with works, with deeds.”
Vincentians should rejoice because theirs is a land of peace, Gonsalves said.
“It is true that we have criminal activities, but we are a peaceful place. And over the years, despite difficulties here and there, we have developed respect for one another and we must continue to respect one another.”
Gonsalves said joy, is the heart and soul of “rejoice”, adding, “every day in our daily struggles, every man and every woman tries to attain joy and abide in it with the totality of their being.
“And when the ULP speaks to your joy and optimism and hope and faith, the NDP, what they want to create is a joyless community.”
Gonsalves said there is no joy for the future in leader of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace.
“What you get from the platform of the NDP is nothing but bile and cussing and pulling down. We are not to go there.
“What we are doing, we are educating our people and we have done a magnificent job in that way, and we have more things to do in that regard,” Gonsalves said.
The ULP is building roadways, addressing health, taking care of the elderly, the poor, building the International Airport at Argyle, and built a jet airport at Canouan, Gonsalves said.
“We have a lot to rejoice about.”
He told party supporters that joy involves at its core, love, adding that the NDP is “going about mocking love”.
“They tell you that when you go about talking love that that is not the way to do things. Love is not a thing which you privatise, you know,” Gonsalves said, and accused Eustace of wanting to privatise the state-owned power company, VINLEC.
“You can’t privatise love like how you want privatise the electricity company. Love, by its nature, is a public good and all of us must reach out to hold one another’s hand in going forward together.
“As leader of this great party, I am not encouraging you to pull down. I am not encouraging you to be negative. When somebody says it can’t be done, we are saying yes, it can be done, and we have been saying so before Obama said so,” Gonsalves said.