By *Jemalie John

Many years ago, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves boasted that his Unity Labour Party (ULP) has a well-thought-out philosophy and a far more compelling narrative than the New Democratic Party (NDP). In the early days, the ULP campaigned on the slogan “Better By Far”. Notwithstanding their usual pompous campaigns, the ULP has steadily lost support since romping home to a resounding 12-3 victory in 2001.

For instance, in 2001, in my constituency of South Windward, the ULP won by nearly 1,500 votes. That is how the NDP went into opposition — by losing several of their seats by well in excess of 1,000 votes. As early as 2005, the ULP saw a sharp decline in support and lost four seats by 2010. With the Argyle International Airport substantially complete in 2015, a dream long held by every Vincentian, the ULP failed to see any increase in seats. They consoled themselves by focusing on the increase in the popular vote. After all, though the NDP retained their seven seats, they did so marginally. By 12 votes in North Leeward, 149 in East Kingstown and 118 in South Leeward. Not so for the seats retained by the ULP. Their seats were retained with significant increases.

Ralph Gonsalves convinced himself and his followers that the three marginal seats would be gone in 2020. After all, the airport was now complete and for the first time in the history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Vincentians could fly direct to Miami, New York and Toronto, with London on the horizon. Reputable hotels are promised, an athletic track substantially complete and the often-touted United Nations Security Council victory that earned him the “world boss” moniker. The list goes on.

One would expect with all this and especially with the ideology that the ULP is better by far and the NDP has no plans and no vision that the ULP would perform exceptionally in 2020, especially in very difficult global circumstances that favour incumbents.

The 2020 results…

For the first time since 1994, the NDP won the popular vote under the leadership of Dr. Godwin Friday who was leading the party to the polls for the first time. This is very significant, and it needs to be highlighted that the majority of Vincentians who voted in the 2020 elections voted against the Unity Labour Party. I highlight this because the ULP forced early elections in 2001 partly on the premise that they won the popular vote in 1998 and should have be given the mandate to govern — totally disregarding the political system operational in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In circumstances where the majority of Vincentians have signalled their desire to change the government, should we legitimately expect an early election by the same 1998 token? Left to be seen.

Of note, the national swing toward the NDP featured some interesting results. The ULP has projected Camillo Gonsalves and Saboto Caesar as potential leaders of the party. Both candidates went up against newcomers. In the case of Camillo, a candidate that featured prominently in the 2015 election, he won his seat by a meagre 186 votes, against a woman who is new to politics and entered the political race very late in the campaign.

Newcomer Israel Bruce surely did cut. Saboto’s margin was cut down by more than half. It is interesting to note that this time, Saboto outperformed the shining heir-apparent. With Carlos clutching a seven-vote margin and Luke Browne losing worse than he did in 2015, it will be interesting to see how the ULP leadership tosses up over the next five years. Most observers are confident that Camillo will succeed his father but clearly he is paying the price for not being as circumspect as he should be. Now the picture is a little clearer. Now we know why the ULP did not have the confidence in either gentleman to lead the party to victory in 2020 as Dr. Gonsalves had promised. I credit them with having impeccable foresight.

It is also left to be seen how Luke Browne will recover. A man who has been on the ground for years has lost miserably to another newcomer who returned to SVG less than six months ago. With this new young challenger replacing Mr. Eustace, I know that another political defeat will knockout whatever air remains in Luke’s lungs. Overconfidence will drown you in the sea of reality and as it turns out, Spiderman cannot swim. Not to worry though, a dolphin has been dispatched to rescue Luke.

Let’s shift our attention from drowning Spiderman to Mr. Iron Man. Mr. Iron man retained North Windward by 69 votes. Another newcomer who entered the political race late represented herself well against the representative who has held that seat since 2001. She should be proud of her efforts.

I am also very interested in the political future of Dr. Mineva Glasgow. Dr. Gonsalves declared Jomo Thomas politically dead, tossed him aside in favour of this new candidate who got the knockout of a lifetime. With Dr. Mini’s age and a 500-vote deficit, I’d like Dr. Gonsalves’ opinion on whether mini is dead or alive — politically.

The only ULP candidate who should be popping champagne after last night’s results is Dr. Brewster. This newcomer’s victory may well send Exeter, who has been on the ground for the last five years, into retirement. Brewster surely turned up the heat in Central Leeward.

But what about James? Where is his champagne for being the only candidate to flip a seat? Frankly, for the millions of dollars that the ULP invested in North Leeward in an attempt to win that seat, in addition to the love boxes, foot paths, cement, galvanize, $500 to students, Samsung tablets, opening of incomplete projects, PRYME, well-timed COVID relief packages, ground breakings, road patching and grand promises etc. etc., I expected a more convincing victory. If after such a grand giveaway I could only muster a seven-vote win, I’d probably skip the champagne and join the road cleaning gang more often.

Going into the next election, Carlos must know that he is even more vulnerable than Patel was and his seat will certainly be up for grabs. Any continued shift toward the NDP will see him serving as the North Leeward representative for only one term. And that is my expectation, given the imminent departure of Dr. Gonsalves and Julian Francis — the political animals who have guided the ship since inception. We are about to see what ULP is without the Comrade and I know that he is disappointed with the results. To retire leaving your best men this vulnerable is hardly anything to celebrate. What is sure is that the NDP remains the only party to win an election 15-0 and I suspect with even Ralph Gonsalves losing votes in this election, history will repeat itself.  

In discussing the results with a close friend last night, she opined that it is time for Leacock and Cummings to go. I just wish to highlight that both gentlemen are among the best performing candidates in the 2020 election; outperforming Curtis King and Jimmy Prince in terms of their margin. Ralph Gonsalves is the only candidate on ULP’s whole slate to do any better than they did.

It is now for the NDP to show what they are made of. Whether they will allow a feeble ULP to convince them to throw in the towel or if they will muster the courage Ralph had that helped him to survive political losses for over 20 years. As a young Vincentian, I am happy with the election results. Why? Because every ULP candidate must go into the next five years knowing that the rubbish they are accustomed to dishing out to us will no longer be tolerated. The ice is thin. That’s it. That’s the article. Now, somebody should go check on Carlos Williams.

*Jemalie John is a barrister and solicitor practicing in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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].

27 replies on “SVG’s 2020 election: ‘winners’ and ‘losers’”

  1. Behavioural Scientist says:

    Lol! Sounding like a prospective Canadian passport holder to me….what I saw in the Election yesterday is that vincentians want a change, buuuuuuut the NDP is not the change the country has confidence in! And if after so long the NDP could clinch majority support after soliciting the help of the so called “foreign mind benders”, millions of dollars invested….only to come out looking worst than they did 10 years ago, is a scathing representation that the NDP is missing the nuts and bolts needed to run a proper, well oilded, political machine…ive said this before and I will say it again…2025 will be a very exciting election year with brand new parties…see you there Mr. John…

    1. One thing good came from this election result: We do not have to worry about the “mind benders” causing us to forget who we are, and the Chinese coming to compete with the Garifuna to take our homes!
      I was very, very frightened that I would become a “homeless, jobless, bent-minded” individual without a pot to piss in! Instead we can look forward to 5 more years of travelling on beautiful roads of love and prosperity.

      1. And there is the evidence: Fear, Fear and MORE FEAR!

        Who are the Garifunas, not “sons and daughters” of the soil? And, who took away Ras Shacka’s land so many others’ land? Oh I know, the Chinese have already arrived.

  2. Mr John the NDP has been in opposition for 20 yrs. Don’t you honestly think they performed poorly? Is the NDP patiently waiting on the populace to just get fed up of the ULP after 25 yrs and vote them out..that’s poor stratigising. It reflects badly on the leadership of the party..from the beginning I said Friday was a weakling..turned out I was right..running Wyllie over Da Silva was a dumb move..but Friday listened to his people on the ground..Mr Friday doesn’t have any intuition

  3. Good postmortem of the electoral results! North Leeward and North Windward result are so suspect ! An immediate recount should be done now !!! How come Baby Doc did not win by his massive margin this time in East St George ???

  4. Concerned Vincention says:

    This is so biased that it’s disgusting. I am for neither party but you sir should be ashamed that hold your personal beliefs over your journalistic integrity. Please learn to have some professionalism when writing news stories or I guess this the website must be looked at as a blog for opinionated articles. Shame!

    1. Concerned Vincention,

      In case you did not realise, as clearly stated, this is an OPINION piece, and not a news article.

      It was written by Jemalie John, a barrister and solicitor practicing in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

      Mr. John is a real person who chambers can be found in Kingstown.

      At no point did he pretend to be a journalist or to be writing an objective, unbiased piece.

    2. I am not for any of the sides an I fail to see Which part of this article is bias. Your getting information on both sides. And did u miss the asterisk by the person name? You would have seen it said barrister and solicitor not journalist.. RE read the article with an open mind.

  5. Jeanie Ollivierre says:

    Hitting the nail on the head Jemali. NDP surely has work to do & we need to commence immmediately with a SWOT, then plan development & execution/execution with identified roles/responsibilities.

  6. Mr. John,
    I enjoy reading your article, however, I do not believe you fully understand the dynamics of Vincentian elections or Vincentian love for politics. I have been observing the elections on the sidelines for the past three (3) years and one thing that I have come to realize is the reluctance of more and more Vincentians to vote. This can only be attributed to two (2) things:

    1. Supporter’s loss of confidence in the ruling Labour party
    2. and their no confidence in the opposition party to better the circumstances in St.Vincent
    You and I know that these parties have their holds in certain constituencies and no matter the efforts of the other party to unseat the incumbent, their efforts would most likely be proven futile.

    I am not surprised by the results. It shows that the Ruling Labour Party needs to do an introspection and revise and revamp, as a lot of Vincentians are dissatisfied, which is expressed to the low voter turn outs and the voter swing going to the NDP. It also shows that NDP has to improve its game, to take control of this system. This weak attempt to woo Vincentians will always prove infallible. “Tell me how you intend to fix the system and pinpoint for me your plans to build a sustainable future, which is impossible to do without first laying the groundwork”.

    1. Rufus Collins says:

      You observe the election for three years??
      Apart from your nonsense statement, even if that was possible (the election lasting that long) how does that qualify you to be an expert?

  7. Ndp do not have the money and other hand outs lumbar, cement galvernize, tablets and more to give away in an election year and up to the week of that election. we will then be hungry for the next Four years, they love it that way, I’m waiting for some villagers and some cousins from bom bom in cane Hall to come to my gate begging to lend money or something to eat, even begging for bread, . their bribe money will soon finish, I will be waiting.
    .

    1. Grace, you hit the nail on the head. Those dotish vincentians who only look at the heart n now and not the future. So when their galvanise has gone up, h the cement has run out n the bread is finished; their next four years will be hard n what will YRH Gonsalves be doing for them as he looks down from his ivory tower.

      NDP need to get their act together n work in unison with each other in working towards leadership. And Vincentians need to get behind NDP for a more better, healthier, prosperous for all future.

      Ps. Make sure the cost of flights from UK to SVG n vise versa are not extortionately higher than when we were going to Barbados. Its a direct flight so should cost less.

  8. Grace the money that they were given will soon be finished and the chickens will soon come home to roost and will sit on your dinner table.

  9. I absolutely loved this article Mr. John. Fair, and a very good assessment. However, it was observed that the ULP ran this election using major scare tactics which the NDP failed to address adequately. I felt like I was observing the “battered woman syndrome” and in instances like this, people needed great reassurances to make a switch with confidence. It wasn’t received and thus we saw it in the results. SVG, you had an opportunity to do something about your fears so, …. But then again, a lot of us are living in fear – one of the greatest debilitating diseases. Therefore, as citizens, we need to be reminded that the “power” lies with us, and ministers of government, are there to serve us, not the other way around.

  10. Stanley layne says:

    NDP could have gained an extra 3 seats if they had the right candidates.North leeward;West St.George and Central Leeward.Marriaguia will have been a chance if they had a vibrant and current candidate,not a yesterday man.

    1. Stanley i agree with your analysis except for WSG. The margin of lost for WSG shows that Kay was the right candidate for that Ulp stronghold. WSG was up against a very popular opponent who “want ah food” and had trinkets to hand out

  11. Jose, I will be waiting , let them come, I know they will, because I never say no once I have
    it., something is seriously wrong with these people, just cannot understand. What is also scary is people who say that they are pastors, Christians and are supporting these disrespectful people, this makes me tremble. I pity these Christians, pastors.. It it because of a plane ride, duty free Concessions, diplomatic passport, favours and promises for you and your children?? If not , then what and why?

    1. Grace great analysis, i heard of a certain pastor who instructed his followers in Arnos Vale to vote ulp. The funny thing is his wife has another church in WSG. This id double jeopardy.

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