Commentary : By Garfield Knight All Fall Down

Most rational observers across the Federation of St Kitts & Nevis are watching keenly, as the Unity Construct searches desperately for a way out of the impossible situation precipitated by the Nevis Island Administration’s flip-flop on the Land-for-Debt swap issue.

The deafening silence emanating from the opposition group provides an important clue to Unity construct’s dilemma. The Construct has made no official comment thus far, for the simple reason that it really has nothing sensible to say.

The group came into being for one reason only: to whip up opposition to Prime Minister Douglas; and they decided that the easiest way to do this would be to attack the Government’s land-for-debt arrangement. For years, those opposing Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas had sought for a way to break his St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party’s grip on the Federal Government. Since 1995, that goal has consistently eluded the Peoples Action Movement, a party hampered by its own history of poor leadership.

In the wake of the global dislocations precipitated by the worldwide economic meltdown of 2008-11, Prime Minister Douglas proposed his solution to the Federation’s debt-to-GDP ratio, and PAM thought it had found an issue with the potential to break the Labour Party’s 18-year bond with the people. In a war for the hearts and minds of the electorate, PAM launched a campaign that accused Dr Douglas of conspiring to alienate the people’s patrimony and consign it to foreign interests.

On the face of it, this was a very seductive argument, and those personally opposed to Prime Minister Douglas ran with the idea. They hoped that that the Labour government would founder under a wave of public anger. This vision of a personal Waterloo for Dr Douglas was a bit tasty enough to lure highly ambitious politicians out of hiding; and soon a Labour Party parliamentarian was ready to make his bid for national leadership without seeking the support of the Labour Party’s rank-and-file. The result was formation of the Unity Construct, a three-party group that filed a Motion of No Confidence in the National Assembly against the SKNLP administration.

This move turned out to be the first of many epic miscalculations including the placing of the issue in the Courts, and then having Unity leaders Amory and Brantley fully embrace debt-for-land – the issue that the Unity construct was formed to relentlessly oppose.

In a single stroke, the CCM separated the Unity Construct from its philosophical base. From this moment on, only silence can paper over the deep internal differences that afflict the unstable alliance. The Federation now waits for Unity leader Dr Timothy Harris, until recently a senior minister in the Labour government, to justify his Peoples Labour Party’s partnership with the CCM. Former Deputy Prime Minister Sam Condor, overlooked in the Unity Construct’s internal leadership negotiations, must question his continued connection to a party that has pursued a policy (land-for-debt) that drove him to separate himself from his former leader.
The Unity Construct knows that it must now scramble to find a new justification for its existence – otherwise, all fall down.

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