BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JUNE 18TH 2013 (CUOPM) – With a July 11th and 12th date fast approaching for the hearing of a matter concerning a Motion of No Confidence taken to High Court by the Opposition members in the National Assembly, St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, has been speaking about the “political double standards and political hypocrisy at play.”
During his weekly radio programme “Ask the Prime Minister” on Tuesday, Prime Minister Douglas again reiterated that the Motion will be heard, but the Peoples Action Movement has no moral authority whatsoever to condemn and castigate his Government because, as they like to say, six months have gone by and the motion has not been heard.
“Indeed, I know that those who oppose this Government would rather that this not be mentioned, but it is a fact that when the Labour Party was in opposition (to the PAM Administration of Dr. Kennedy Simmonds), Sir Lee Llewellyn Moore introduced a Motion of No Confidence on two occasions. And on both occasions, the then-Peoples Action Movement Government refused to debate the Motion. I say this to make the point that motions of no confidence has been introduced at various times in our islands’ history. ‘Forget about that’ anti-Labour types always demand whenever this point is raised. ‘That is ancient history, and no-one needs to go back there.’
I think, however, that we very much need to go back there. Not to make the behaviour of the People’s Action Movement back then the standard of acceptable behaviour, not to use their refusal to debate the two motions as an excuse for this and future governments to avoid debating motions of no confidence, but to make the very important point that whatever the merits and the demerits of debating this motion of no confidence, the Peoples Action Movement has no moral authority whatsoever to condemn and castigate this Government because, as they like to say, six months have gone by and the motion has not been heard,” Dr. Douglas told listeners.
Reiterating that the motion of no confidence is important, and that it will be heard, Prime Minister Douglas pointed out that it is important for us all – those of who are pro-Labour, and those who are anti-Labour – to assess the hearing of these motions by one yardstick.
“Does a motion of no confidence have a right to be heard – no matter what? And if so, within what time frame should they be heard? Once we agree on that, and once we have one yardstick, once we do not tailor our positions according to whether one party is in power or another, then we can have a reasonable conversation,” Dr. Douglas said.
“That is what the (current Leader of the Opposition) Honourable Mark Brantley did, and that is what (Then Leader of the Opposition) Sir Lee Llewellyn Moore of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party did. Again, I stress, so there will be no twisting of my words, that I agree that the motion should be heard,” said the Prime Minister who pointed out that the St. Kitts and Nevis Constitution of 1983 given to the twin-island Federation by the PAM Administration of Dr. the Right Hon. Sir Kennedy Simmonds does not specify a time within which a debate on a Motion of No Confidence should take place.
“We all agree that it should be treated as a priority, but the Constitution does not specify the time within which the debate must take place. Six months have gone by since Mr. Brantley introduced his motion, and there has not been a debate. In our zeal to castigate this Government, however, we cannot dismiss as irrelevant the fact that when a motion of no confidence was introduced in the Simmonds-led PAM Administration, the PAM Government absolutely refused to debate the measure – not for six months, not for ten months, not for fourteen, or seventeen, not for twenty-two months or twenty-eight months, but for three years!” said Prime Minister Douglas.
He noted that he has no intention whatsoever of emulating that record.
“But, as I said, those who were members of the Simmonds Administration, those who were supporters of the Simmonds administration, and those who were advisers to the Simmonds administration, none of whom condemned that Administration’s refusal to debate either of the two motions that were brought by the then-Labour Opposition, really are being less than honourable when they now raise their voices in condemnation against this Government on this issue,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
“And so for those who rush to tell Kittitians and Nevisians how motions of confidence were dealt with half way around the world in the Solomon Islands, or in England back in the 1700’s, I say, thank you for that information. But as a matter of intellectual integrity, how about a discussion on how our own PAM-led administration dealt with this same matter, right here in St. Kitts and Nevis?” asked Dr. Douglas.
“Again, I make this point not to use their behaviour as a standard, but simply to point out the political double standards and political hypocrisy at play here,” he said.
“We are in agreement that in our political system every parliamentarian has the right to introduce a motion of no confidence. But since we are a tiny nation where almost everyone knows everyone else, and because politics, as a result, take on an intimacy that is not possible, say, in the United States, or in Tanzania, we really need to have a very clear-eyed understanding of why this motion was brought,” said the St. Kitts and Nevis leader.
Opposition members have taken the matter to the High Court and a hearing has been set for July 11th and 12th.