By Dr. The Hon. Ralph E. Gonsalves, Prime Minister
The similarity of ideas and political practice between the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Donald Trump, the current Republican Party in the United States, and assorted crazies in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the United States, is remarkable! They spring from the same source of political divisiveness and confusion; anti-national and unpatriotic conduct; disregard for democratic and judicial institutions; promotion of fake news and misinformation; hypocrisy and rank dishonesty; political opportunism and anti-people outlook; possession of an individual nihilism and an estrangement from uplifting; social solidarity; an un-Christian selfishness and dog-eat-dog attitude; and an embrace of a wide array of crazies and the permanently disgruntled. The end result is a kind of political normlessness; the absence of a people-centred vision; and a dead-end morass of debilitating hardship for the economically disadvantaged who support the respective political brands of the NDP, Trump and the Republicans.
Yet, these very entities and personages (the NDP, Donald Trump and the Republicans, and the assorted crazies) proclaim themselves to be opposite of all this. They trumpet their devotion to the nation and unity of the people; to democracy and constitutional order, to truth and decency; to individual rights and freedoms; and to the upliftment of the people under God. It is absolutely amazing their brazenness! They do all this a straight face and an unctuous self-righteousness, without any shame whatsoever.
These very entities and personages misuse and abuse the means of modern telecommunications (the various internet platforms and radio). They hire, with funding from disreputable sources, communications professionals of dubious pedigree: In the case of Trump and the Republicans, the discredited outfit known as Cambridge Analytica of the United Kingdom; in the case of the NDP, the precursors to Cambridge Analytica (Strategic Communications Laboratories of the UK) and its off-shoots. The assorted crazies chime in as unsavoury fodder and mindless “voting cattle” wedded to dishonesty and unbridled self-interest. Many of this latter group hanker for a transformation or transition from the ranks of “internet crazies” to diplomatic postings as “Your Excellencies”. These people literally hate Ralph and his Unity Labour Party (ULP) for no reason other than Ralph and the ULP stand in their way to glory and greed. Large numbers of these crazies are failures in their lives and vocations; after some ditching and fetching here and there, they turn to political activism on their way to, or from, “the poor house”.
REFUSAL TO ACCEPT ELECTORAL DEFEAT
Donald Trump and the Republicans refused to accept electoral defeat in the 2020 Presidential elections in the United States; before that epic loss, they rehearsed their lines in elections for some congressional districts and state-wide contests. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the NDP disputed their fourth consecutive loss in the 2015 general elections with protests and election challenges in Court for five years; subsequent to their fifth electoral defeat in November 2020, the NDP has embarked on regular protests on the streets of Kingstown for “fresh elections” — each protest has a different “cause celébre”: Ashelle Morgan; injustices generally; and so-called “mandatory” vaccines. All of these protests, poorly attended, have served up the usual measure of anti-Ralph hate and malice, grounded in malicious falsehoods. They all feature, routinely, a disregard of law and order and holier-than-thou protestations of “police brutality” and their victimhood — a fallacy. Their behaviour in these respects mirror, for example, the Trump-instigated protests by rioters on Capital Hill in Washington DC on January 6, 2021, against President Biden’s electoral triumph.
In the December 2015-to-November 2020 period of protests and challenges to the Unity Labour Party’s fourth consecutive general elections’ victory (2001, 2005, 2010, 2015), the NDP were frequently on the streets of Kingstown; in front of the Office of the Supervisor Elections daily (Mondays to Fridays and sometime on weekends); and in the Court House with lawyers from home and abroad on election challenges.
As usual, their street protests were poorly attended, disorderly, and practically ignored by everyone, including the Police authorities. Their protests in front of the Office of the Supervisor of Elections were organised by assorted crazies under the umbrella of a conjured-up entity known as the “Frontline Organisation” behind which the NDP leadership hid, in broad daylight. These “Frontline protests” were vile and, at times, criminal: The handful of participants, mainly unemployed miscreants and permanently disgruntled, fed daily from a nearby hotel and supported by bus fares to and from their dwelling-places, terrorised the Supervisor of Elections, in her goings and comings, with vulgar and abusive language, defamatory utterances, threats and assaults. The Supervisor of Elections, a pillar of the Anglican Community, a former Principal of a Primary School, and a former active member of the SVG Teacher’s Union and Credit Union, took all the insults with a quiet Christian grace and natural dignity.
Undoubtedly, this bullying of an highly esteemed woman, Ms Sylvia Findlay-Scrubb, was wicked and un-Christian, and a harbinger of the malice in the breast of any future NDP’s governance. The level of this malice, foretold, was stunningly rebuked in the 2020 electoral returns in the town of Barrouallie — the home community of Ms. Findlay-Scrubb; the NDP lost in every single polling station, an historic first for decades. The ULP won handsomely! By the way, the NDP, the Republicans and their assorted crazies cannot stand strong, powerful women. It’s their misogyny! The NDP’s antipathy towards the following women, among others, speaks volumes: Former Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan, René Baptiste, Girlyn Miguel, Dame Susan Dougan, Ambassador Rhonda King, Joy Matthews, Laura Browne, Kattian Barnwell, Jimesha Prince, Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache, Dr. Audrey Gittens, Nerissa Gittens, Dr. Resa Noel-Mc Barnette, Faylene Scrubb-King, Rochelle Forde, Ashelle Morgan, Keisal Peters, Renitta Morris, Sylvia Findlay-Scrubb, Eloise and Isis Gonsalves.
THE ELECTORAL COURT CHALLENGE, 2015 – 2020
Shortly after its fourth consecutive electoral defeat, the NDP instituted legal challenges by way of election petitions against two of the ULP’s victorious candidates: Sir Louis Straker and Montgomery Daniel. If the NDP were successful in their challenges, the future of the government would have been placed in doubt or even in possible jeopardy.
Very early, the experienced and learned jurist who first presided over the cases at the High Court, Justice Brian Cottle, saw the flimsy and unsubstantial nature of the challenge and dismissed the NDP’s application. In the process he ventured wise advice to the challengers of the futility of the exercise on such a poor evidential base as they proffered. Unfortunately for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Court of Appeal offered the challengers a tenuous lifeline by finding “an apparent bias” in Justice Cottle’s judgment. Thenceforth, the challenges proceeded, through prolonged judicial ups and downs, on this or that preliminary application, until the date of the actual hearing of the petitions in early 2019. The Chief Justice of the regional OECS Supreme Court recruited a highly-regarded judge out of Trinidad, Justice Stanley John, to hear the actual petitions. Justice John concluded, after a full hearing of the evidence and the law, that the disputed elections were conducted “substantially” in accord with the election laws and rules; that they were free and fair and reflected the will of the people. The petitions were accordingly dismissed with costs.
Immediately following the delivery of Justice John’s judgment, the leader of the NDP, Dr. Lorraine Friday, took to the streets with a handful of disappointed stragglers. His shouting mantra was: “No Justice, No Peace”. In short, there could only be “justice” if the NDP had won; and since they lost, there can be “no peace”. Clearly, “no peace” means advocacy of its opposite: War! That has been their veritable battle cry since!
Predictably, the NDP filed an appeal against Justice John’s judgement. Interestingly, the NDP did little or nothing to pursue the appeal: Centrally, it never “perfected” the appeal by filing “the Record of Appeal”. Yet, the NDP daily complained that the appeal was not being heard. But they did not “perfect” the appeal; and did not serve any relevant “appeal papers” beyond the “Notice of Appeal” on the Respondents. So matters remained, until the appeal’s relevance was put to the dustbin of history by the ULP’s fifth and consecutive electoral triumph in November 2021. It is to be noted that the 2015 results gave the ULP, a one seat majority (eight to seven); in 2020, the results provided the ULP with a 3-seat majority (nine to six). In 2021, the ULP lost the popular vote nationally by a sliver, largely because of the NDP’s larger-than-usual majorities in the two seats in the Grenadines. The ULP still retains the majority of popular votes on St. Vincent itself.
NDP’S WAR SINCE 2020
After the NDP’s fifth consecutive electoral defeat in November 2020, it has shifted its tactical stance. It still vaguely insists that the elections were not free and fair but refuses to challenge them in the Law Courts; they know in their hearts and minds that they were soundly whipped again. The NDP now insists that because it won the majority of popular votes (by under 500 votes out of nearly 70,000 votes cast) there must be fresh elections. St. Vincent and the Grenadines has a parliamentary system of government based on a constituency system of first-past-the-post in each of 15 electoral constituencies. There is absolutely no justifiable basis in law, fact, or political reality for the NDP’s call for fresh elections. Their only basis is a Thirst for Power, and a Hunger for Hegemony and Self-Aggrandisement.
Post-2020, the NDP is bent on political “war” on the streets, on the radio, and on the internet. Never mind the results of the recently-held elections; never mind the challenges of COVID-19, the volcanic eruptions of April 2021, and the tasks of rebuilding of the country. None of all that matters to them, only a quest for power. Since a coup d’etat or violent overthrow of the government is not possible, the NDP’s approach is to force fresh elections largely by street protests, amidst disorder and violence. On August 5, 2021, the NDP leadership and associated crazies had so agitated a small crowd of about 150 to 200 persons that one of the unruly crowd threw a missile which wounded Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in his head, as he was walking to a meeting of Parliament.
Prior to August 5th, in one protest, a senior NDP Parliamentarian, St. Clair Leacock, brazenly told the Press, on video tape, that he had come out of Parliament that day to take “the peace out of the protests”; the protest had been earlier billed by them as “peaceful”; actually, the protest that day were not peaceful. Accomplices to that sort of thinking in the leadership of the Public Service Union and the SVG Teachers’ Union ought to be careful, for more reasons than one!
There is a clear straight line between Lorraine Friday’s “No Justice, No Peace” mantra in early 2019 to Leacock’s “I have come to take the peace out of the protests, to the ramped-up disorderly and violent conduct of the NDP’s street protests, up to the wounding of the Prime Minister, and the other unlawful/criminal acts in a subsequent protest of September 9, 2021. Their disorderly and unlawful dress-rehearsal protests between 2015 and 2020 had emboldened them to act subsequently with impunity given the excessive restraint and permissive by the Police.
All of this bear the near-identical hallmarks of Donald Trump, his Republican Party, and right-wing zealots. Should we be surprised? No! after all, the NDP is an active member of the Caribbean Democratic Union (CDU), the regional right-wing grouping of like-minded parties, led by the International Democratic Union (IDU), spearheaded by Trump’s Republican Party of the United States. The Trump Republicans and the IDU beget the CDU and the NDP under Lorraine Friday; the latter’s weak leadership is tugged hither and thither by the crazies.
NO SIMILARITY BETWEEN 2000 AND 2021-2021
The NDP often repeats a lame excuse for their current protests and call for fresh elections, namely: “Ralph did it in 2000!” This 2000 reference is to the street protests in April – May 2000, led by the ULP in concert with civil society, and the negotiated settlement for early fresh elections between Ralph and the then Prime Minister, Sir James Mitchell of the NDP. The fresh elections were held on March 28, 2001, nearly three years before the due, outside constitutional, date of around September 2003 — the previous general elections being held in June 1998.
But every sensible person knows that there are real, significant differences between the respective factual situation between 2000 and 2020-2021. The esteemed columnist, Renwick Rose, in the Searchlight newspaper, had already debunked the NDP’s farcical and ridiculous comparisons between both years as justification for their current action. Thus, there is no need for us to be delayed on that at this time. Another article will analyse this piece of NDP rubbish.
Overwhelmingly, Vincentians are peace-loving, law-abiding, and possessed of democratic instincts to the bone. They oppose this clarion call of “War” by the NDP and that party’s violent conduct on the streets. The people are not interested in “fresh elections” because they know that there is no justifiable basis in law or fact.
It behoves all of us to push back firmly against this destructive path of the NDP, its fellow-travellers, and assorted crazies. Particularly, civil society, including the trade unions and churches, must resist them. So, too, all the state authorities, especially those concerned with the maintenance of law, order, and justice.
Be assured that the ULP government will continue in the high traditions of “good governance” in the interest of all our people.
Be assured, too, that Ralph’s leadership will remain steadfast and firm; like the proverbial anchor it will hold unwaveringly, calm and true to the mandate given to me by the people.
To be sure, in time there will be fresh elections: In December 2025. Meet the ULP and Ralph in contest again, at that time!
By the way, the last demonstration of any merit and value took place on November 5, 2020. That one, at the elections, put the ULP back in office for a further five years! The NDP should ponder that unvarnished fact. By then, the NDP would have been in opposition for an unprecedented 25-year period. And for the NDP top leadership, their biological clock for ministerial office is running out, rapidly! Thus, their desperation and sullen, irrelevant call to war.
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].