BASSETERRE, ST KITTS – National Political Leader of the opposition St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas told delegates, supporters, business leaders and the diplomatic corps at the 84th Annual Conference on Sunday, the Party is on the move and preparing a return St. Kitts and Nevis to the state of prosperity and progress for which Labour had long been known.
He told delegates his re-election as Political Leader “will be “a mandate to take forward the Party’s Agenda and the People’s Agenda to lead this great Party back into Government.”
“Let me now be clear that this is a responsibility to which I shall devote our energies, our resources, our skills, our strength, our fearlessness and will remove any and every barrier that may stand in our way to being triumphant.
We shall lead a most spirited campaign the likes of which we’ve not witnessed before. And so have no fear – DOUGLAS IS HERE! Let us through diligence, continued advocacy, and superior party organization re-take that mantle which is once again within our reach. Let us do this in keeping with our sacred pledge, as members of this great party, to commit ourselves unfailingly, unstintingly, and fearlessly, to each other and to this nation, in the quest for justice……in the quest for freedom in the quest for true advancement and, as always, for “the good that we can do,” said Dr Douglas to the tumultuous applause.
In spelling out the agenda for the way forward, Dr Douglas, who served as Prime Minister for nearly 20 years said the Party must continue to examine what changes it would embrace in the country’s constitutional, legislative, and institutional framework “in order to protect our people from arbitrary and spiteful actions by the Government.”
“We must work diligently to ensure that, whatever happens at General Elections every five years, the gains of our people remain secure. Specifically, we must reform the public service and ensure that the role of the public service is properly distinguished from the role the political directorate and that decisions in relation to appointments, terminations, and promotions are free of political involvement, except to the extent that the Constitution gives a role to the political directorate. I am convinced that political victimization keeps poor people poor as they find themselves in an out of a job every five years,” said Dr. Douglas, who was first elected to the St Kitts and Nevis National Assembly in March 1989.
He told delegates that the Labour Party’s commitment to the empowerment and protection of the poor requires its energy and attention.
“We also must find ways of protecting small businesses from arbitrariness in the award of Government jobs and contracts so that they can grow and thrive, whichever Party Administration is in office. These matters become particularly important when we are faced with a ruthless and callous Government which is not constrained by considerations of fairness, honesty and decency. Another significant matter that requires attention is the relation between St. Kitts and Nevis, and the establishment of a fair and transparent constitutional mechanism for ensuring that the rewards of development are spread fairly and equitably throughout the Federation so that the fate of the people of Nevis would not depend on who is in office in St. Kitts; and the political leaders from Nevis would not have to lie prostrate before a demanding Master to extract benefits for the people of Nevis,” Dr Douglas said.
“What I am suggesting is that, in planning our agenda for our early return to office, we must pay as much attention to the administrative and qualitative aspects of development as we pay to growth, fiscal stability, debt management and the other quantitative aspects of development if we are to secure the future of our people from arbitrariness and recklessness. We must, even now, conceptualize a comprehensive programme of constitutional and administrative reform aimed at creating a free and fair society in which people would be free to hold and express their varied views and opinions without fear of discrimination or victimization,” said Dr Douglas.
He said the Labour Party must set its sights on a return to office. “We know that a number of persons from the very heart of Labour have been misled by Astaphan, Harris and Condor and they now realize that they erred. We must welcome them back to our fold. We must continually engage in advocacy at the national, constituency and community levels and we must invite our friends and families to Labour functions and events,” Dr Douglas, adding:
“If we intend to be inclusive in Government, then we must be inclusive as a Party. We must welcome in our midst all who share our ideals and aspiration and we must encourage them to become full members of our Party. We must embody, for all of the people of this Federation, the cohesiveness and the one-ness that has eluded the members of concoction that chose to call itself Team Unity, the Tim Unity Government, the TUG.”
He said it is clear that many voters were fooled by the three-party Team Unity Government now in office.
“They fooled the people in relation to the debt for land initiative; they fooled the people in relation to the Basseterre High School; they fooled the people in relation to the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP), which they are now in the process of destroying through ineffective policies; they fooled the people about the Sugar money at the expense of the poor people of Venezuela, they fooled the people about a minimum wage of $500 weekly; they fooled the people in relation to the many projects under construction including Kittitian Hill into which they are now pumping millions of dollars after trying to make it the object of ridicule and scorn; they fooled the people in relation to the state of the economy; and they fooled the people in relation to the Police and the Policing plan conceptualized by my Government but now being implemented by them. But the people have now seen the light. And they can be fooled no more. They would be fooled/deceived again,” said the Labour Party leader.
With confidence he said that the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party is on the move and the period in Opposition has provided an opportunity to sharpen “our tools and prepare ourselves to return St. Kitts and Nevis to the state of prosperity and progress for which Labour had long been known. The people of this country are with Labour – as they so overwhelmingly demonstrated at this year’s Labour Day March.”