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The NDP’s campaign has gone off the rails. Instead of focusing on a positive agenda for the future, their campaign has wallowed in the gutter. At a time when Vincentians are hungry for new ideas to move our country forward, the NDP campaign has offered little more than smears, insults, racialization, the belittling of women and personal attacks.
Consider some of their statements. St. Clair Leacock and Maia Eustace have taken to the platform to try to create racial animosity in this country and try to divide us. Our country has a rich history. We have Vincentians of African descent, European descent and Carib descent. We are now one mixing pot of people who all have respect for each other and, unlike other islands like Trinidad and Tobago, we do not pit races against each other to win political power. A mature body politic would never seek to make this campaign about race, but, instead make it about ideas. It is, therefore, disappointing to see the NDP seeking to try to divide us with boldly racist statements instead of focusing on their vision for the country. The language of Maia Eustace and St. Clair Leacock would be seen as hate speech in some countries. They should not be rewarded for racist language at the polls.
The belittling of women has also been a hallmark of the NDP’s campaign. The excuse offered by the NDP candidate for North Windward should be taken as offensive by every woman in this country. He said that the NDP didn’t need any women candidates because they have women supporters! So, is he really saying that the NDP has no value for a woman’s perspective in leadership or that a woman’s perspective is not helpful in prioritising policies that will uplift the nation? Women have many unique needs in this country. Women need assistance with childcare, protection from abuse, protection from deadbeat dads, quality education for their kids and an opportunity for economic advancement. These are reasons why it is good to have a woman’s voice at the decision making table. It seems that the NDP disagrees, and, ridiculous statements like the one made by Lauron “Sheara” Baptiste should have no place in our political discourse.
It is further telling by the way the NDP has savaged two women in particular — Rishatha Nicholls and Isis Gonslaves. Both of these strong women were brutally attacked with their character and strength called into question by an NDP who could’ve used their anger to focus on the issues, but, instead, used it to savage the reputations of two strong, professional women who spoke their mind during the election.
By making this campaign about the degradation of women and the division on racial lines, the NDP has lowered the quality of political discourse in this country. As Isis Gonsalves said, “elections are about the future … the plans and policies for the country”. Instead of spending their time telling us how they differ from the existing government and what ideas they have for the future, the NDP’s campaign is based on a disgusting set of recordings, on racial division and on the belittling of women.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines deserves better from its opposition. And, while their fervent supporters are good-hearted people, it is clear that in this campaign, their political leadership has failed them — Eustace, Cummings, Leacock and the rest have not articulated why they should be in government.
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