Commentary: Where Do We Go from Here?

by Osmond Robinson.

Right about now Dr Timothy Harris and Sam Condor must be asking themselves that question, as they survey the fallout from the Nevis Island Administration’s flip-flop on the Land-for-Debt issue.
Dr Harris and Mr Condor defected from the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party to create the Peoples Labour Party segment of the Unity Construct. “Unity” is an amalgam of opposition movements united around the principle that the Federal Government should not transfer public lands to the St Kitts-Nevis National Bank, to cancel a large portion of the National Debt.

It is significant that the Unity Construct is yet to make any formal comment on the action by the NIA. For Unity, this is no run-of-the-mill bump along the political road. The NIA’s reversal amounts to a rebellion by the Concerned Citizens Movement, that segment of Unity forming the Nevis Island Administration. Mark Brantley, who serves as Deputy to Nevis Premier Vance Amory, is also one of two deputies to Dr Harris, who leads the Unity Construct. In essence, the NIA’s adoption of a land-for-debt policy pioneered by the Federal Government in relation to St Kitts drives a stake into the heart of Unity.

The Unity Construct has maintained a studied silence on the controversy that has wracked the Federation since the news leaked into the public domain. The NIA held a town hall meeting in Charlestown, at which it attempted to sell the explanation that the Nevis version of the Land-for-Debt swap was actually the work of the previous Nevis Government, formed by the Nevis Reformation Party. The current NIA’s case is that Premier Amory’s government had no option other than to ratify a fait-accompli assented to by the NRP.
The disingenuous feature of that argument is that prior to the January 25 2013 Nevis elections, the CCM had campaigned vigorously on a platform of determined opposition to any Land-for-Debt swap. Since unseating former Premier Joseph Parry’s NRP government, the CCM NIA has kept silent on that issue, leaving it up to its Unity Construct allies to carry the fight on the mainland against the Federal Government of Dr Denzil Douglas. The CCM uttered not a word on Nevis – until after the NIA’s sudden and completely unexpected flip-flop made Land-for-Debt a matter of public attention all across the Federation.

The NIA may be making an attempt to deflect the wrath of the Nevis electorate onto the NRP, a partner of the SKNLP – but the Unity Construct appears to be leaving the CCM isolated in that effort. Neither the Unity leader, nor his co-deputy Shawn Richards, nor for that matter Mark Brantley, who sits on three stools (deputy to Premier Vance Amory, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly and co-deputy to Dr Harris) has said a word on the matter on behalf of the Unity Construct.

Dr Harris and Mr Condor continue to maintain their studied silence, despite numerous calls for them to clarify their position on the matter. After all, their opposition to the transfer of public lands to the National Bank caused them to turn against the Labour Party, and into the welcoming arms of Unity. The two are party to a Motion of No Confidence filed against the Dr Denzil Douglas administration, largely over that very same land-for-debt issue. A mutiny by the Concerned Citizens Movement must have taken the wind out of Unity’s sails, and must threaten their own political career with shipwreck.
The question animating the mind of Dr Harris and Mr Condor, a question that most probably accounts for their continuing silence, must be: “Where do we go from here?”

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