The ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) has moved from the “Labour Now!” slogan on which it came to office in March 2001 to “Lumber Now!” says opposition leader Godwin Friday.
He, however, said that Vincentians must not be swayed by short-term gain and called on the electorate to vote the party out of office at the next general elections, expected by year-end.
Friday’s use of “Lumber Now!” was in reference to the government’s housing material distribution programme, which is ratcheted up and becomes most visible during an election year.
“…what we are about in this campaign, in the New Democratic Party, is about creating a brighter future for the people of St. Vincent and Grenadines,” Friday told the NDP’s virtual campaign rally Thursday night.
“And when I say this, I mean a future of lasting change; of prosperity; where dreams and aspirations are real, not just something that you make up and never expect to come to pass.”
Friday said his party wants to create “the kind of St. Vincent and the Grenadines that our people deserve.
“That is the St. Vincent and the Grenadines that we must deliver and that is what we are working for every single day.”
The opposition leader said he spent a lot of time talking to people and, therefore, knows what citizens are asking of their government.
“They are not asking for the moon. They want good health care,” he said.
“The van drivers want to know that they can take somebody on a trip somewhere. And they don’t have to pay for the trip by having to repair the suspensions on the vehicles,” he said, referring to the poor state of some of the nation’s roads.
“For the young people who come out of school, they want to know they have a chance to find work, to find a job here in St. Vincent; that if they chose to go further afield, it is a matter of choice, not necessity caused by hardship, and lack of employment in our country. That is the kind of future that we have to aspire to and deliver. And we have a chance now to do so as elections are coming.”
The opposition leader said it is easy to see and feel that election is in the air.
“How you see it? Some people getting ground provision in boxes,” he said in apparent reference to the government’s “love box” programme.
“Some people are being promised all kinds of hand-outs. You know election is in the air because you see in your village, they coming to fix potholes, to repair a bridge that was broken for the last five years, probably longer.”
The opposition said that in the Northern Grenadines, which he represents in Parliament, the road to Mount Pleasant should have been fixed over three years ago when the money was allocated, but the government is only now saying they are going to repair it.
“We know election is in the air because the mamaguy has started full force. We know election is in the air, because the ULP they’ve gone to the old playbook, which is to say, we know Vincentians, we know our people, all we have to do is put some goodies in a box or in a bag or just hand out the raw cash, and they’re going to forget the future and vote for short term.
“But I say that trick has been tried once too often,” Friday said, adding that Vincentians know “the cynical politics” that has characterised the ULP government.
“And they understand that now, the government, they’re flush with cash from COVID and it’s hand-outs all over the place. You want something? You just have to connect with somebody in the party, somebody in the higher-ups and they’re ready to hand out. But it’s not because they care about you. If they did, they would look after your interest every day of the past five years that they’ve been in office.”
He said it is a characteristic of human nature that “the greater the neglect over time, it’s the bigger the package and the prettier package, when they come in and they want something from you. They want to make up; I want something from you. Right now it’s a big package standing out.
“And I want to encourage our people to look beyond the short term. It is a very serious thing to consider. You have to ask yourself if taking something now, whether it’s lumber or galvanise — remember the time when they used to say ‘Labour Now!’? Well, it’s ‘Lumber Now!’ That is what they’re saying now.
“But the people of this country deserve better. That is what we are seeking to provide when we say that our obsession, the thing that we want to do most of all, that occupies our minds, when we talk about introducing policies and programmes of changing things around in this country, it’s not just for style, it’s not just a self-aggrandizement — to make me look good, or any member of our team — it is because we believe it will deliver jobs and economic opportunities for our people,” Friday said