The time has come for the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) to look towards younger leadership, says Deputy Prime Minister Montgomery Daniel.
He made the point in Parliament, on Thursday, as he commended the party on 21 years in office.
Daniel, 66, has been functioning as the party’s de facto deputy leader after Sir Louis Straker did not contest the 2020 general elections.
The ULP had said that a convention would have been held within a year of the polls to elect a deputy leader, but no convention was held and none has been held for years.
Daniel’s comments came on a day that the party’s political leader, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who turns 76 in August, missed Parliament because of “a terrible flu” which he said “really mash me up”.
Daniel, who has been MP for North Windward since 2001, said that after 21 years, he believes that he has made “a great contribution”.
He said that historically, 21 years means a lot in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“For after adult suffrage, 21 years … meant that you have become of age. And so, at this time, as we reflect on our work and we look forward to the future, it is important that we look and to see how we renew this great party, the Unity Labour Party.”
Daniel said that congratulations “were always in order” when in 1998, Vincent Beache, the then opposition leader, told the ULP it was time for him to move on and to pass the mantle to the political leader, Gonsalves.
“We were much younger those days and so the time has come when the party to be looking to the younger generation to take the party forward,” Daniel said.
“So as we reflect on the past, we celebrate our achievements but we continue to look towards (sic) and chart a new way forward. But even in doing so, we recognise the difficulties, we recognise the influences, particularly the outside influences that will affect our policies and programmes going forward.
“But, I believe that setting the platform within the last 21 years that even at the next general election, that platform will set us on a path to win the next general elections for a next five years term.”
Daniel said that he heard in Parliament “positive witnesses of the work that was done 21 years ago.
“And I am happy that even when I vacate my own position that there are a number of young, talented individuals who can take this party forward.”
In 2020, Daniel retained his seat by 62 votes against political newcomer, Shevern John of the main New Democratic Party.