By Denys Springer
Aneurin Bevan one said and I now say openly using his words “the worst thing I can say about democracy is that it has tolerated the ‘honourable gentleman’ (prime minister and his cabal) for four and a half years”.
Standing by passively while this pristine land of ours is being pillaged and destroyed and sold to foreign nationals it is almost like reliving through ancient times when some stood and glorified with the burning of Rome and the destruction it had on the poor and homeless. In comparison to other West Indian islands, we have become a spineless society. Where are the lawyers, accountants and the professional class who should be able to challenge a government that continues to show disregard for the constitution and no respect for the rule of law?
When a government uses an election to secure control of the legislative and of government and then uses this majority to implement policies that run counter to public opinion, while the system lacks the tools to counterbalance these actions; then professionals in civil society should not just sit in their Ivory tower and do nothing. Doing this tells us that something is wrong with our democracy because, in the end, a system that has grown out of all proportion gives birth to a dictatorship.
I go on further to make a profound statement made by Aristotle that “when some people are very wealthy and others have nothing, the result will be either extreme democracy or absolute oligarchy, or despotism will come from either of those excesses”.
Unwillingness to conduct democratic negotiations and social consultations nearing elections and having frequent public consultations on policy issues even during non-election years are very important for any government. It is not just about pushing things down people’s throats as this government continues to do in terms of their borrowing. National conferences that include both government and opposition forces should be the order of the day. These are all examples of a golden age of deliberative democracy.
Prime minister, Allen Chastanet on the other, has become a democratic dictator suffering from low approval ratings and facing strong resistance from a broad spectrum of society. Chastanet depends on his party’s propagandist, Cabinet, and the legislature to force through policies. This gives credence to his shortcomings and that of Saint Lucia’s democratic system.
Prime minister Chastanet sole intent seems preface on pursuing personal ambitions and does not care about the public opinion which is part and parcel of the democratic process. The public has been reduced to charming the reason for justifying the use of resources and a target for media manipulation, instead of a nation reflecting the fundamental values and goals of a democratic system; albeit a colonial one which he seems to favour “colonialism had a conscience”.
The Chastanet administration leads by suppressing public opinion; by instilling fear from external pressures, rather than listening to public opinion. This is a source of democratic dictatorship.
Democracy has degenerated into a means to obtain power and the dictatorship is expressed in the rush the government gets from its arbitrary use of power such as “a state of emergency” that does not exist. And further to that, the Chastanet administration influence over the police force even though they have respect for the rule of law is the lowest by any previous government.
This is what has become of Saint Lucia’s democracy. Therefore, a lot of work is needed by the future government to put things back on track and therefore we need a labour government led by Philip J Pierre.
It warmed the cockles of my heart when I heard the former prime minister, Dr Kenny Anthony speaking at the Castries East Constituency conference that the leader of the labour party, Philip Pierre, “is his own man and must be allowed to be so.” He made it clear that he is the leader you can trust and fundamental to his character “understands the soul of the people of this nation”.
“Pierre knows their pain and anguish and has pleaded their cause,” said Dr Anthony, and that there was the shedding of tears when certain decisions had to be made during his time as prime minister. Pierre, he said has always been about “Putting the people first”.
This period of our political history is the time for a sound technician and therefore – “This is Philip’s time” – “a gentle spirit of pulling everyone together. He brings hope to the dispossessed and therefore we need a leader who can pour oil on trouble waters. Pierre is that man.” He brings peace and understanding to all. He is the “nuts and bolts” politician because he will have a relationship between leadership and voters.
Former prime minister Dr Anthony went on to emphasize that “Pierre was a meticulous planner fully prepared to the contest ahead and one of these attributes is that he is not a leader with too much fanfare. He is always open to others views and does not think that he has all the answers.”
In effect, he is a good listener which I have lectured to my students is 80 percent of communication. In the academic sense, he is an excellent leader and communicator. However, one of the things that Dr Anthony spoke about and we should all be cognizant of is that, “Pierre’s integrity is beyond reproach and that no one can tie him with any form of corruption in his 23 years in politics, he is as clean as one can be. A leader must have a soul and that is what Pierre is about. His main aim for the people of Saint Lucia is bread on the table, justice and freedom.”
He went on to say quite categorically that the labour party is not divided as the government and their cabal would like you to think and that, his presence today puts a lie to their vindictive and false propaganda.
Dr Anthony had one final blow and disgust for this Chastanet government when he said, “Imagine, just yesterday we were told by his administration that we can do without World Heritage Status”.
Having done this dirty deed, they simply want to trivialize the gravity of the ghastly deed. This tore me from inside because, I was one of many who fought for the Pitons being made a World Heritage Site, part and parcel of the Archeological Society, and responsible for public relations. Truly, I just felt gutted and drained out and therefore, hope that this government and the chairman of the Development Control Authority (DCA) Clem Bob, is taken to task when they lose the elections.
Should we lose UNESCO World Heritage Status, this would be a slap in the face for our ancestors beginning with the Amerindians and the early inhabitants of the island like my grandfather, etc., who fought for this pristine land of ours.
I conclude by echoing Dr Anthony. Let us come together and do what we have done three times before and rescue our country from the brink. Long live the leader of the SLP. Long live comrade leader Pierre, your stewardship is most desirable currently.