Commentary by Gladstone Berridge :
Scaremongering. For political gain. It’s cheap and pathetic, but then again, what else does the Opposition have to do with its time?
It is clear that because we are coming close to election time, the Opposition is doing anything it can to disturb the voters in whichever way possible.
Policies and the facts have nothing to do with it. Why bother with the truth when scaremongering works for them?
The facts are:
• This Labour Government has brought down crime – so they don’t have that as an issue.
• This Labour Government has brought the national debt down – so that as a talking point is gone.
• The IMF, that highly demanding international judge of economies everywhere, has given us high approval time, after time,
after time – so they cannot attack us on the economy.
• Civil servants are receiving their checks and they are receiving salary increases – so no traction there either.
• All Government workers have comprehensive health care, and the entire nation is next in line – so how can they turn that into a negative?
• Land is being distributed far and wide. Our historic housing program is continuing, with Habitat 30 being the most recent chapter in this – so what else can they grasp at?
Scaremongering and spreading lies and distorted commentary are the only tools they can use to cause concern and resentment amongst the people. Tell the public that the Government is attempting to change boundaries for political gain and plant a seed of doubt in their minds.
The truth is, the voting boundaries are not equal.
The Labour Government, international election commissioners, and more frankly the Opposition know there is inequality and unfairness in the existing boundaries. If one constituency has double the people than another constituency – is this fair? Has the Opposition asked people in the larger constituency how they feel? Once elected, how are the people best served by only one Representative? How thin does that elected Representative have to spread himself in order to ensure his community – double the size of some others – is well looked after?
The 2,500 voters in Constituency 5 have one Representative to take care of their needs, while more than 6,000 voters in Number 8 must be spread among one Representative as well. Constituency 9 in Nevis with over 5,000 voters contrasts with Constituency 10 with around 2,000. Is this responsible governance at its best?
It is hugely frustrating that we have been working since before the 2010 election to make the electoral boundaries more equal but the Opposition took the matter to Court to stop Labour from doing so.
Since 2012 – well in advance of the next election – Labour has been even more active to ensure that the upcoming election will be fair to all. After all, the Labour Party lives and dies on its commitment to fairness and equality. Indeed, in order to ensure that this process would go smoothly Labour did this in cooperation with the Opposition – as required by the Constitution.
The actual process for changing the boundaries was agreed by all member of the Boundaries Commission. There were no complaints about the process. Opposition and Government representatives on the Commission agreed that these boundaries had to be changed. There was never any disagreement during the process. There was no boycott by the Opposition. Indeed, four of the five members of the Boundaries Commission signed the final Report. 80% support by all political parties is an outstanding measure of its legitimacy anywhere in the world and is conclusively an overwhelming majority. Furthermore, the Premier of Nevis, a highly senior Opposition representative on the Commission, signed the Boundaries Commission Report.
Desperate to the last, the Opposition has since decided to throw a monkey wrench into the process. They have decided that despite the requirements of the Constitution, despite the urgings of international observers, despite the four-out-of-five sign-off for the report, despite the need of Kittitians and Nevisians to have equal representation, it might be good for them to use boundary changes as a divisive political issue.
Democracies depend on fair and open elections and I have faith that our people will see through these desperate attempts by the Opposition to destabilize the election process.