The ruling Unity Labour party is the most successful in the history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, party leader Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told its annual convention on Monday.
Gonsalves said the world know this, adding that for five successive elections, the party has won majority support and has won the majority of seats for four successive election — an unprecedented feat.
“And the entire country knows and the world knows that the most successful government that this country had even seen is the government of the Unity Labour Party from 2001 to the present time,” Gonsalves said.
He said that in March this year, the government will celebrate 19 consecutive years in office.
“Currently, no political party in this country, or in the hemisphere, that we have seen, has won consecutive elections for 19 years. Not one other country in CARICOM can boast that.”
Gonsalves might have forgotten that Denzel Douglas and his St. Kitts Labour party were in office for 20 years before it was booted out of office in 2015.
But he was quick to say that opposition lawmaker and Vice-President of the New Democratic Party, St. Clair Leacock was right in the comment he made in a recording, from radio that was played at the convention.
In the recording, Leacock had urged NDP supporters not to be dismissive of Gonsalves, his leadership style, contacts, and strategies.
“So St. Clair Leacock is right. Labour ain’t easy to beat. And our roots are deep, our connections with each other are well-founded, very strong and we have the leadership, we have the policies and the programmes, we have the candidates, we have the personnel, we have the organisation and we have the rank and file base which knows completely, entirely, that this government, whatever its limitation –because we are human beings — works hard and smart and openly in the interest of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.:
He further said that the ULP is united.
“And when we are in battle, it’s like a fist and it’s tight and we mustn’t have any dissension because if we have any dissension, it means your fist not tight like that. You can only box if your fist is tight,” said Gonsalves, making a fist in demonstration.
He said the party has one leader, is agreed on one set of policies and programmes, “and we all working together, rank and file and leadership, together, in the interest of this country”.
The prime minister said that in the 19 years of the ULP in government, he has never had reason to dismiss anyone from the Cabinet.
“I have never had, on one single occasion, a Cabinet member resigning from the government because they have differences with the government. They ain’t resign at all,” he said.
“Go through every other island, every other country in the Caribbean and you don’t find that. So, when you come to us, you come to us with unity and stability and a focused sense of purpose.”
He then listed a number of things, which he said are incontrovertible.
The prime minister said that far more people are working today in SVG than in 2001, when his government came to office, adding that Vincentians are far better off; there is far less poverty and indigence, far less undernourishment.
He said there is now far better education and training, far better delivery of health services, far better housing, far better social security at the National Insurance Services and Public Assistance.
SVG now has far more and better sporting facilities and cultural facilities; far better road network, including bridges; far better air and sea access; far better immigration, passport, police, Coast Guard, fire and prison services; far better delivery of water, electricity and telecommunications; and far less personal and company taxes, he said.
Gonsalves further stated that there is now, in SVG, a far better system of and facilities for disaster preparedness; far better systems and practices of good governance, openness and transparency and accountability; far better management, functioning and delivery of services for the state-owned enterprises; and far better management of the economy, adding that the economy is larger, and the country wealthier than in 2001.
Gonsalves said there is a stable monetary and financial system and low inflation; far better and deeper regional integration, foreign policy and diplomatic representation overseas; and far better life and living in every demographic.
“In fact, over the last 19 years, a socio-economic revolution has taken place in St. Vincent and the Grenadines by way of the parliamentary process,” he said, adding that this process was a “difficult and messy” one through which to effect change.
“But we have effected the change,” he said, adding, “Fundamentally, when we arrived in office, St. Vincent and the Grenadines was at a dead end in economic terms…
“This economy grew, in the aggregate, from $800 million in 2001 to 2.2 billion last year,” the prime minister told party supporters.