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Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (iWN file photo)
Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. (iWN file photo)
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By *Jomo Sanga Thomas

(“Plain Talk” Nov. 20, 2020)

“The class struggle created circumstances and relationships that made it possible for a grotesque mediocrity to play a hero’s part.” — Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire

Five in a row. The New Democratic Party (NDP) has spent an entire generation in opposition and the party’s leadership still don’t get it. When you are on a winning streak, it is easier to keep on winning. A losing streak? Well, you have to find a way to break through. Sadly, the NDP appears not to have a clue. In the aftermath of a 5th consecutive defeat, Dr Friday, vice presidents Major Leacock and Patel Mathews, along with Kay Bacchus-Baptiste sound like a bunch of grumpy old… 

Even though the ULP lost the popular vote, it won an additional seat to go into the new Parliament with a nine to six lead. All things considered, this feat is nothing to frown on. The ULP was vying for a historic fifth term.

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The plain truth is that the NDP failed to deliver yet again. Going forward, the party needs to engage in collective introspection. It must completely recalibrate its plans, programmes and presence if it intends to remain relevant. Losing streaks are hard to break. The popular vote triumph by the opposition may lull it into a state of confident complacency, only to be slammed again with yeah — six defeats in a row.

The signs are not promising for a much-improved opposition ready to engage policy-centred debate. Here’s why: Following the elections, Opposition Leader Dr. Friday told the nation:

“As they argued then, we assert now that the outcome of the recent elections means that those in government now have lost the moral authority to govern.

This creates a crisis of governance in our nation that will only be resolved when the people are again governed by a government that has the support of a majority of the people…It is a fundamental and treasured principle of democracy that a government that does not have the support of the majority of the people lacks a mandate from the people to govern them. It lacks democratic legitimacy.”

Where did Dr Friday get this cockeyed view of our system of parliamentary democracy? From the same Dr. Ralph Gonsalves who he tried to replace as prime minister in the Nov. 5 elections. 

In 1998, the NDP led by James Mitchell won the elections eight to seven. Gonsalves, deputy leader of the ULP, declared, “All reasonable people of democratic temper and spirit recognise that a truly functioning democracy demands that consent of the governed, that is the consent of real flesh and blood voters be obtained. Fifty-five per cent of our voters have stated unequivocally that they do not want to be ruled by the NDP. The NDP slender one-seat majority may, in a narrow legal sense be legal, but it lacks popular legitimacy and moral authority.” 

Our Constitution allows for a first-past-the-post system of elections. It is this system that allows Tourism and Culture minister Carlos James to sit in the Parliament as an elected parliamentarian. He won by one vote. It is the same system that allowed the NDP to maintain government in 1998. The popular vote does not determine which party will govern. The party that wins eight or more seats secures the right to govern.

For Friday to invoke Gonsalves words 22 years after they were first uttered is clear evidence that opposition leaders continuously look to Gonsalves for talking points and legitimacy. When the NDP’s fourth term was cut short in 2001 following mass protest, the opposition blamed Gonsalves and scornfully dubbed the popular protest of 2000 a “Road Block Revolution”.

Throughout the last 20 years, the opposition has tried time and again to replicate those protests with the hope it will bring down the ULP government. All such efforts failed because the opposition improperly concluded that if Gonsalves did it successfully, we could, too. In a misplaced act of monkey see, monkey do, it failed to appreciate the fact that then the people were unprepared to be ruled in the old way. That determination, coupled with the errors of the NDP government created the conditions that led to the turmoil and eventual removal of the government in 2001.

The whining analysis about why they lost the 2020 elections is not surprising but appalling annoying. Defeated parties tend to mourn rather than engaging in the necessary high-quality organization.

Major Leacock said raw cash made the difference in the turnout at the 2020 general election. “It is amazing that people can sell their vote and their freedom and their future… So I am not laying blame that we are not in government today at the feet of the NDP. It is the people’s will that they are willing to spend the next five years waiting on a handout.”

Seriously!? You failed to convince a sufficient amount of people to vote for you.

Patel Mathews said along with “bribery people were threatened that if they voted a particular way, their elderly relatives would be taken off public assistance”.

Do these men listen to themselves? If more people wanted to vote for Mathews, they would have done so in much the same way 2,270 persons did. The vote is secret. The intimidation claim is similar to that made by the ULP in 1998 when it lost eight to seven.

Kay Bacchus-Baptiste laced into the National Monitoring and Consultative Mechanism for declaring the elections “free and fair”. Bacchus-Baptiste said, ‘it annoyed me because we all live in St Vincent… there can be no gainsaying that millions of dollars were spent in most of the constituencies as bribery. It makes no sense purporting to be fair-minded and at the end issue a report that does not reflect reality.”

The problem for the opposition is that it told the people to eat them out, drink them out and vote them out. More importantly, the opposition offers the false narrative that it was only the governing party that doled out giveaways.

Rather than call for transparency and complete disclosure of all money raised, it cries like annoying spoilt brats about bribery. Yes, there was bribery, but clearly, the opposition complaint has to be that it was outspent, not that the ULP had a monopoly.

With the sub-par quality of our political class, SVG ain’t going anyplace fast.

*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

14 replies on “Opposition blues”

  1. Freedom Fighter says:

    I will like to commend you fully on this piece. It is true that irrespective of ULP significant bribe machinery NDP is solely to be blamed for their defeat at the polls don’t matter how they slice or dice it.

    Until they wake up and face reality that people had rejected them at the polls and why they will never win an election. The people didn’t came out and voted for the NDP even though they expecting a landslide. They need to analyze why? I can suggest a number of reasons because I was on the ground.

    First, NDP didn’t have an organised strategy for winning the election. However, they would argue otherwise. Due to a lack of proper strategy to win the election they failed miserably in getting the people out to vote for them. This is reflected in the fact that NDP supporters stayed away from the polls enmasse.

    Second, NDP corruption did them in big-time. This is clearly reflected in their behavior towards the first guy who was tip to run for Marriaqua and they replaced him with Wylie. They justified their actions with Friday walk through and the calling of the executive members traitors, who resigned from the consitutency committee. However, they paid the price big-time at the polls.

    Their corrupted ways are further reflected in the appointment of the candidate for East St George. They didn’t elected a candidate but instead selected one at the last minute. However, they went out of their way and told the people they had a voted for a candidate. The vote was just to rubber stamp things.

    Fourth, NDP needs to realize that they can tout Friday as the most moral leader, as they like, but that will not bring an election to them. Because like Ralph E Gonsalves the people don’t trust him. Therefore, the voters shunned both Friday and Ralph E Gonsalves at the polls by staying home. When you talk to people from both sides who didn’t voted their response were, ” Friday is too weak and we don’t trust him.” This shows, inorder to vote people need a strong leader and one that they can trust.

    Fifth, NDP had candidates who the people refused resoundingly because of their characters in public. It is not to say ULP candidates are paragons of good characters. But that doesn’t say that people were going to trade ULP shit for NDP’s bullshit. So, too sad for those two candidates who thought they were going to win but lost resoundingly at the polls. Let me remind NDP nearly winning and winning are two different things.

    There are more reasons to advance but I will stop here. Anyway, I voted for NDP not because I see them bringing me better but because “the enemy of my enemy is my friend. “

  2. What would you do differently Jomo. You were on the inside of one, or were you? Surely you must have insight as to how they operate. If you so clamour for the good of SVG, what do you think needs to be done?

  3. It gives me pause when I listen to the naritive of the voice of this platform treating the outcome of the recent Elections as if it were a cricket match.
    It. Depends the institutional devide and contributes to the further polorization of our small Country.
    The Fundamental questions are..What are we willing to do for our Country?
    How are we going to create jobs for our next graduating class ?
    How are we going to Develope the next generation of leaders ?free and active thinkers that can come up with the solution to solve complex problems that will face SVG in the future..because we have to plan ahead and stay on par.
    Not waste energy on stoking the acalaids of the party..good job you did well now lets get to work .

  4. Jomo Thomas after reading this I realize that the ndp are Very foolish. Sharing money to the people thinking that they are going to gain their votes. What a dumb idea. Yes those who took the money that was distributed needed food. They took their money and voted ulp. Smartness. I heard leacock putting down Luke browne for being disrespectful. Also comments were made by others.
    I think that man leacock should take a good look of himself and polish his ways instead of putting down Luke
    Okay so Luke lost. So he is a young man and has a future infront of him. Going To london is one of the best thing he can ever do where he can study what ever he wants to be. I think the two parties have to get together and try to help the people who needs help and let them be able to take better care of their families. Its not easy to be hungry in a country where there are so much produce and things that people in north America have to find in the markets to buy. Saint Vincent need two governing heads put together so that you could build a better country and make all be happy being there.

  5. Stupes …so many intellectuals to write articles with all the political know how in the world then why won’t you put yourselves forward as candidates one side or the other??… as far as I’m concerned advice or criticism from turncoats is to be taken with a pinch of salt. Best comment thus far asked: what will we do for country???

  6. Majority will always rules . They have a right base from passed election counts.

    Jomo stop being redherring for ULP gisguising as purist and pondit. This Election was the exploited polically by this Government by using all of the State Resources under the guises of Covid-19. The violation of bribing under
    Phyrme. Under the of small development ” Ralph “4000 did for me because of money” paraphrase aots get and who did not vex and stay home. I need your analyze on those statements. Jomo.

    You also did mention in previous article that the Party that can offer more or will say can bribe the hungry people more will win (my words inference from your writing. You already predicted the outcome from the way that the ULP was acting .

    Today you just trying to postmortem the NDP which was. Decapitated from the beginning , they done well and you do not like their majority and relishing iin it or do you see that they can make the same move in the Raod Block Revolution and you are afraid of the outing are you?. Majority Rules. Ask Ralphie about that.

    Your opinion this week is lacking substances . There are safe constituent seats in SVG and when the people decide to change then it will, it does matter what say or do. Do your analyze from 1961-2020 and see then trend and stop try to fool us Jomo.

    Jomo i will call for electoral reform. One after is call and day announced when day reached (NominationDay) that government also cease and the Head of State and Police in charge. Equally must applied to Party Running.

    We do not know who win in some Constituentcy for truths always buried in boxes iin electoral process.

    My to cent

  7. Is that why the vote of no confidence was spitefully denied ?? Cheat and liars will be punished, one day. Every one knows that money can buy anything, even elections. You know that to. Still waiting to hear your response on , you have me in your craw and you are nothing? Still waiting

  8. while I agree with most of what jomo said. I have identified someone in the comments with the caliber of questions that need asking. Phil dennie and yolo asked ‘what are we going to do about it’. Two party and the same sad song playing. while Ralph is digging himself in to become like the next Mugabe, the ndp grow more lacklustre in their approach. The leadership of the past 20 years of the ndp has been reserved to miniscule if you were looking to find a spec. Too much of the colonial mentality, too much of waiting on others , too much of monkey see, monkey do, too much of putting new wine in old skins…We are in 2020. I will be taking up the mantle and will by vying in the near future to play a broader active party in our country’s development, both locally and internationally. The day I become PM or a Minister in parliament. I will ensure no party serves more than two terms. You could a be good like gold.

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