Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (File photo by Lance Neverson/Facebook)

*By Vaughan Toney

I was listening recently to the prime minister’s presentation of his Unity Labour Party’s election manifesto when, at the end of his remarks, he announced that “this will be the last time I will be presenting a manifesto as your prime minister”. His words were accompanied by the song  “Would you stand by me” in the background. The people in the room were visibly moved: many were brought to tears and one young woman was practically inconsolable as she sobbed while saying repeatedly, I love my PM! I love my PM! I love my PM!” I, too, shed a tear because at that moment it struck me that a giant was about to depart the political stage and he will undoubtedly be missed for at least a generation. His shoes will be hard to fill in so many respects — not the least of which are his depth and breadth of knowledge, his sonorous voice and unique delivery that captivate the attention of any audience from beginning to end. No one does it better than the Comrade. And so I feel compelled to add my voice to this election debate. 

When Vincentians head to the polls this Thursday, they will be doing so at a time when the stakes have rarely been higher. Amid a resurgent global pandemic, the World Bank  and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are warning of a worldwide economic contraction that will stoke poverty and damage growth over the next year. According to this latest forecast, extreme global poverty is expected to rise for the first time in two decades, triggering worsening inequality and a “severe setback” for improvements to living standards. The outlook for our regional Caribbean economies is similarly grim, as falling tourism and remittance inflows are projected to impose a severe drag on growth for the remainder of this year and well into the next. 

In short, our nation is facing a moment of great consequence, and on Thursday, Nov. 5, our people will decide which party has the best leadership in this election to meet this moment. There may yet be some who are still undecided on this question but for me, the choice is clear: In navigating the economic shoals and challenges that lie ahead, our ship of state will require a calm, steady and experienced hand to guide us safely through these treacherous waters. And the only qualified candidate with the vision, expertise and demonstrated leadership required to captain our ship of state at this time is Comrade Ralph.

In nearly two decades at the helm, Comrade Ralph has successfully charted a course for our nation that has brought unprecedented expansion of opportunity into the everyday lives of all Vincentians. Notwithstanding the fluctuating fortunes of the global economy, he has remained steadfast in his commitment to enhance our quality of life, elevate our standard of living and create for all Vincentians an equal and just society. Under his leadership, our society is being visibly transformed by a revolutionary expansion of educational opportunity for the poorest and most historically marginalised among us. Public Assistance recipients continue to benefit from steady increases in their monthly payments as the government works to strengthen the social safety net for our poor and elderly Vincentians. New and expanded legal protections are on the verge of enactment for our domestic workers, who are overwhelmingly women. 

As prime minister, Comrade Ralph has initiated some of the most visionary and transformative capital projects ever undertaken in the history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. First among these is our new international airport, which is already generating measurable economic benefits for our country. He has also spearheaded a number of strategic alliances with both private and governmental investors to galvanise local economic development in both the public and private sectors. 

These initiatives include funding for several hotel projects — Sandals, Mills Basin, Marriott, Holiday Inn and Canouan Marina. On the regional and international stages, Comrade Ralph has moulded our nation into a force to be reckoned with; under his leadership, St. Vincent and the Grenadines currently chairs the regional Caribbean Community (CARICOM) group of nations, and will chair the United Nations Security Council this month — having been elected a year ago to represent the Latin American and Caribbean region on the Council. (St. Vincent and the Grenadines also made history in that election by becoming the smallest nation ever to secure a seat on the Security Council).

The Hon. Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Everad Gonsalves has dedicated his entire working life to public service. As an eminent counsellor at law and scholar of jurisprudence, he has practiced extensively before the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in a wide range of matters, but particularly in the fields of constitutional and criminal law. Following his election as leader of the Unity Labour Party (ULP) in 1998, he successfully led the party to victory in elections three years later and has remained at the helm as prime minister ever since, having prevailed in the subsequent elections of 2005, 2010 and 2015. 

Prime Minister Gonsalves has earned our universal acclamation as St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ distinguished elder statesman. Throughout his tenure in public life, his efforts have been guided by the twin principles of prudence and enterprise. As he prepares this week to lead his party into what he has promised will be his final electoral battle, he has earned the right to retire in victory. Let us salute his historic record of service, achievement and leadership on behalf of our Vincentian nation by returning him to office with a resounding victory at the polls on Thursday — confident in the knowledge that our ship of state will be safely in the hands of our most capable, qualified and accomplished captain.

*Vaughan Toney is a Vincentian national and social entrepreneur who resides in New York, where he is President and Chief Executive Officer of a leading not-for-profit, community-based organization specializing in high-quality early childhood education and youth programs.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

22 replies on “Ralph has earned the right to retire in victory”

  1. No sir, I beg to disagree. He has had his time. 20 years is too much given the social and economic havoc he has wreaked on this country. The people needs to send him into retirement now before he does his ultimate final set of damage. Time for him to go!

  2. I dont know who you are and where you live and how you look bit i say this to you , i believe you have more than one means of of income and your income is now way near below $2000 a month .not only that i also believe others in your home have jobs and working for a go monthly salary ,thats why you cannot see the hardship and stress of the poor and the problems of svg , you vote who you want but please don’t come an try to use vincy nomore to full your packet and belly while the rest of us are suffering starving dying from the simplest of diseases .thats not love thats inhuman

  3. Vaughan Toney, your written opinion of our God given Prime Minister, could not have be in any other form for Vincentians to really open their eyes and minds and realize, to give HONOUR and RESPECT, this GREAT MAN that have done and continues to lift SVG HIGHER! & HIGHER of what others before him have and could not have done.
    PM: Honorable Ralph E Gonsalves, May Our God continue to pour His BLESSINGS UPON SVG, you, and your Families

    1. You don’t know about the victimisation, the disregarded court rulings, the taking away of people’s lands from them, the molestations, the control through bewitchment exerted on the poor and unfortunate others in this country…..

  4. It struck me dear Vaughan Toney, that you like many others, may be suffering from that malady that is commonly known the “Stockholm syndrome” (a feelings of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim towards a captor.)

    For near on twenty years now, Ralph Gonsalves and his extended family, have brought this nation nothing but economic disaster, consequently as a result, we remain the 4th poorest nation in the region.

    The poor here just gets poorer and poorer, while nepotism and cronyism remain a constant sickening and rampant scourge on our once democratic nation and job creation remain a distant dream for those seeking employment as the tax burden just gets higher and higher.
    https://www.iwnsvg.com/2020/10/28/leaked-report-paints-grim-picture-of-poverty-in-svg/

    When you write; “In nearly two decades at the helm, Comrade Ralph has successfully charted a course for our nation that has brought unprecedented expansion of opportunity into the everyday lives of all Vincentians.” One has to ask, are you for real? Are you living in a vacuumed “bobble” in New York far removed from the trials of SVG or are you seeing only what you wish to see?

  5. A sycophantic screed that could not have been better written by the Comrade himself that completely ignores his many faults and errors, including unbridled arrogance, reckless government spending, the victimization of opponents, chronic nepotism in hiring and the issue of government contracts, neglect of our precious and fragile land and sea environments, indifference to the chronic decay of our only city, Kingstown, preoccupation with flashy vote-reaping projects that have no chance of success, including the almost exclusively regional airport at Argyle and a wish list of mainland tourism projects that have either already failed (such as Buccament Bay Resort) or will never get off ground.

    No wonder our national debt retains its steep ascent year after year while we have the third highest level of unemployment and poverty in the entire Caribbean.

    Then there is the “education revolution,” largely a blocks-and-mortar endeavour that has produced mainly secondary school drop-outs and credentialed dunces with little or no prospect of securing any employment, meaningful or otherwise, once they earn their bogus certificates based on a dumbed-down curriculum.

    Moreover, the Comrade has no plan — none whatsoever — for dealing with the fallout of COVID-19, a pandemic whose economic consequences will hit us even harder that some of our neighbours with a much more developed local tourism industry because several thousand of our citizens are employed on cruise ships and hotels in other countries which will see little or no resurrection for at least two years and because the remittances from thousands more in the diaspora employed in low paying jobs in devastated hospitality sector will all but disappear.
    Bragging about putting more people on Poor Relief year after year, good supporting evidence for the recently leaked draft report of our escalation in poverty in recent years, is a nonsensical Alice in Wonderland boast if there ever was one.

    In sum, there is surely no basis for claiming that, “Prime Minister Gonsalves has earned our universal acclamation as St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ distinguished elder statesman” and that he remotely deserves to be returned to office yet again.

  6. So from what I have gathered from this link https://fochdaycare.org/about-us/directors/vaughan-toney you have been state side since the 1970s. You sir do not know what it is like living in this country on a consistent basis, you have not experienced the errosion of freedom that have taken place in SVG, you have not experienced the astronomical increase in price at the supermarket while salary remain the same. You do not know what it is like to be a woman living in a society with an allege rapist as the Prime Minister and his son who he will like to hand this country to “allegedly” referring to woman as 3 for 10 and allegedly calling his wife a “dutty bitch”. You have not experienced the increase in poverty that have taken place in the 20 years the ULP have been in office. So for you to be saying that the PM have “earn the right to retire in victory” is rather entitled and foolish. If the PM wants to retire in victory let him retire now because most Vincentians don’t want him back there. 19 years is enough! What do you want him to go back there for? To drive the country in the middle of the Saharan desert and leave us there to die. No. Times up!!

  7. MR Toney l don’t believe you wrote this.And if you do something is wrong with you. The words that was used to express the views that the PM earned the right to retire with a political victory is not your style.The person who wrote this should tell us if this country is the estate of the PM ? . They mention about people shedding tears because he said is his last.Well it is the best news for 80% of this country.Not because l don’t speak words that most people don’t understand that doesn’t mean when who so ever speak them l don’t understand them.So don’t come with you all stupid mess.

  8. Percival Thomas says:

    Vaughan Toney I disagree with most of what you have written in this article. Ralph has not earned the right to retire in victory. He failed to keep his promises, like building a new hospital and he has failed Vincentians for most of the years he has been in power. He has been successful in completing a few good projects, like the Rabacca Bridge and AIA, but he has also failed to complete some projects. Perhaps the most important, the Geothermal. The failed projects have used up scarce resources which could have been spent in other areas.
    You seem very impressed with the achievements and career of Dr Ralph Gonsalves.
    His achievements in education. His achievements in the academic world. His achievements in the legal field and his leadership style. He has a very, very impressive record.
    However, unlike you I don’t jump to the conclusion that he has been an outstanding leader for SVG. We would expect a great leader to have some characteristics: charisma, which he has. But what about integrity? What about compassion? What about morality? In my view he has not these qualities.
    You noted that when Vincentians go to vote on Thursday 5 November the stakes are high because of the problems in the global economy, brought about by Covid-19. And you cited global poverty is expected to rise. I am very surprised that you were not aware that poverty been rising in SVG under the leadership of the PM and he tried to bury the information.
    You wrote that Vincentians will decide which party has the best leadership in the election to meet the challenges ahead. I think you are wrong. I am sure you are wrong. Vincentians will decide why Ralph and the ULP have failed SVG in so many areas.
    Why the ULP failed to grow the economy to reduce unemployment and poverty. Youth unemployment is nearing 50%.
    Why Ralph and the ULP failed to developed the agricultural sector.
    Why the country is so divided.
    Why health care in SVG is poor and why a New hospital has not been built.
    Why the roads have not been repaired.
    SVG is a difficult place for women and children.
    These are some of the main issues that affect Vincentians in their daily life. They will vote on these issues. Not on the brilliant leadership of Ralph, as you see it. And you must know that no one is indispensable. Not even Ralph. If fact I think he has held back the development of SVG.
    These are the main credit I give to Ralph and the ULP:
    The Rabacca Bridge.
    The AIA.
    The development of education. Secondary education and more students going to university.
    Securing a seat on United Nations Security Council.
    There are probably some others. But it is time for Ralph to go. I will share one secret with you Vaughan Toney. I believe Ralph is a “politically” dead man walking.
    My brother I can’t promise you a happy election night on 5 November. Keep some strong stuff.

  9. Nathan 'Jolly' Green says:

    Many thousands of people have much different opinions than you Sir. We have had to live in SVG witnessing the hatred and spite, the maliciousness. He can do a hundred things right, which he has not, and just one nasty behaviour wipes out the credit for it all.

    It is all very well you people living in the US making statements about this man, in fact I would quite well see him having written this piece himself. Because no honest decent person would write such stuff when there is so much evidence of how his regime has been behaving, his invention of a dynasty and the continual making his cousin a senator when he has been rejected at the poles on several occasions.

    What I suggest you do is put into your search engine Peter Binose, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Also put Nathan Jolly Green Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and also Jolly Green Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. They have been writing about situations for years, take a look and educate yourself.

    I am going to treat this article as a piece of clever ULP propaganda written to once again fool Vincentians.

  10. Just like all people throughout history, they are a mix of good and bad. Often determining what is good or bad is a matter of perspective. Many see Ralph Gonsalves as having accomplished much for the nation. Many see him as institutionalizing poverty and hindering development. The political climate is very strange in SVG. I met a young woman on Friday who had nothing good to say about Ralph Gonsalves but she is going to vote ULP nevertheless. I have also seen people that have done well under the ULP and they will vote NDP.
    It shows that many people in SVG have more loyalty to a political party than they do to their country, family or humanity itself.

  11. Alwayn Leacock says:

    Seriously which planet is he living on ? Churchill said all political careers end on failure his begin in failure and is still failing he must go and go now !

  12. “First among these is our new international airport, which is already generating measurable economic benefits for our country.” ohhhhh? How? When??
    “under his leadership, St. Vincent and the Grenadines currently chairs the regional Caribbean Community (CARICOM) group of nations” This is a revolving chair, have nothing to do with Conrat whatsoever or his leadership. This article is full of brown nosing is this guy looking for a diplomatic position ??

  13. Vaughn Toney or whoever you are, you need help. It’s retirement you are talking about. Upon retirement, a clear conscience would be the best thing to have; not political victory. That man will have no peace for all the wickedness done to Vincentians: some blatantly, others in opaqueness like the way he takes advantage of the ignorant and simple. His acts of kindness seemed never to be pure and singular because if you only shift he is ready to castigate and chastise you. It is alleged that others were killed because of perceived vacillation. He better turn to GOD and seek forgiveness in order to enjoy some degree of peace. So Toney, encourage the man to repent and not to pursue fleeting happiness such as election victory which they will try hard to steal again.

  14. Assignment for Mr. Toney. Present us with the empirical evidence that the AIA is “generating economic benefits”. How much revenue the AIA makes per year? What is its annual maintenance cost? How much debt do we owe for the AIA and how much we have to pay annually? I am afraid Mr. Toney, you may find out that the dance cannot pay for the light.

  15. Nathan Jolly Green says:

    This opinion piece is little more than fascist collaboration. It is the kind of disgusting supporting behaviour that world war was extended on and cost millions of lives.

  16. No matter what’s been said about Ralph, he is back there for a fifth time. Saint Vincent has prosper because of him. You all who are talking bad should get up and salvage what you all are mot doing to help the country and its people live up to their expectation since you all have so .uch bad things to day about Ralph. Saint Vincent has come a long way. Lord bless you all.

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