“Political Calculus” , a commentary by Enid Thompson

The Unity Construct is a political alliance of three small opposition parties, a coalition hurriedly cobbled together in the hope that if they combined their forces they might be able to prevail against the powerful St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party led by Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas.

One may justifiably view the grouping as a marriage of convenience – and like all such forced unions, the Unity Construct is prone to structural weaknesses. There can be little doubt that sheer political opportunism is the primary motive behind the creation of “Unity”. One prime example of Unity’s opportunistic approach to politics is their selection of Dr Timothy Harris to lead the construct. The Unity Construct based that choice on the fact that Dr Harris represented a safe Labour seat and the hope that he would be able to deliver that seat to them. Similarly, the idea was that Sam Condor’s long record as Deputy to Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas, in combination with his own successive election victories on a Labour ticket, would assure the Unity Construct of at least six seats in the National Assembly after general elections.

This facile political calculus failed to take account of four critical factors. The first of them is the historical cohesion of the Labour Party vote. The second is the affection that party supporters feel for Dr Denzil Douglas. The third is the huge disgust that the desertion by Dr Harris and Mr Condor created in the mind of Labour loyalists; and the fourth factor is the Prime Minister’s success in articulating his policy objectives to the party rank-and-file.

Those factors taken together spell failure for the attempt by Dr Harris and Mr Condor to split the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party. Events will show that their past successes at the polls depended on their very good fortune to run as candidates in safe Labour seats. The enthusiasm that supporters of Labour showed toward them before their fateful decision to break ranks with the party has rapidly evaporated, and there is no reason to think that PAM votes will make up the difference in an election.

The founders of the PLP have failed to split Labour, and PAM has drawn attention to its political weakness by the way it meekly gave up leadership of the Unity Construct to interlopers from the SKNLP. Now, the third segment of Unity, the Nevis Concerned Citizens Movement, has embraced Land-for-Debt – precisely the issue that the Unity construct was established to slam, and precisely the issue over which Unity has been telling the public they should oust Prime Minister Douglas. This move denies the validity of the political argument that led to the formation of the Unity Construct – and the political calculus of the combined opposition is left without a leg to stand on.

The political breezes currently blowing through the Federation of St Kitts & Nevis indicate that the Peoples Action Movement and the Concerned Citizens Movement will be the big losers in the upcoming general elections. Supporters of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party are working to ensure that PAM and the CCM do in fact become the big losers they are set to be.

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