In the twilight years of the Dominica Freedom Party and during the struggle of a deflated Dominica Labour Party to ‘pump up our volume’ a new bunch emerged. They loudly called themselves the United Workers Party.
The UWP demonstrated a relentless surge toward their goal with a display of ‘Fear no more’ advertising and promotion techniques that razzle-dazzled the electorate causing even Granny to utter in creole, “Yo ni un force oui papa” (They have a powerful drive). Bob Marley’s ‘One Love’ was a rallying musical call to all the disillusioned of our land and infused with an almost miraculous life force they stormed through the political firestorm and in just 7 years moved in 1995 into the government seat.
The UWP was then a party of action and its quick trigger “tou patou” all over approach to development caught the national imagination. It seemed the UWP would be in government for the next umpteen years until as Granny would say,” Cock grow teeth.” In 54 months a confident UWP called for elections and they were kicked out.
But the energy did not fade and they appeared to be still the action party expecting to be back in office by the next poll. It did not happen but something else did.
The party in its change of leader struggle became a party not of aggressive outward action but of inner transaction and in the transaction period passed leadership from Edison James, to uh..uh..perhaps Julius Timothy but after bitter name calling settled on Earl Williams instead who promptly vanished in disgrace and so in great haste to a reluctant even unprepared Ron Green until it has come full circle to a reluctant Edison James again and even some wonder if this is closure.
It is that period of transaction that caused the party to have divided focus and lose the next elections. It seemed all was lost and “diwi cho all fall down” would replace the Workers song.
Yet when a few months later the Edison James clarion question from the platform, “Mr. Skerrit do you have an interest in (certain luxury) lilac villas?” rocked the Labour Party administration and threatened a meltdown, it appeared the UWP was back on horseback and the DLP would soon be taking a dose of disappearance without water. Then the PM consolidated his move and he took them to the next level. He gave them a target they could not ignore – a radio show with controversial hosts-as he slid away into the background. The special hosts called themselves folk tale animal names like Lapere and Tig; the opposition labeled the radio shows “the animal program.”
But while the political theatre runs on a daily basis with the same political gladiators throwing out accusations and allegations at each other the people look upon the spectacle and ask, “What next for Waitikubuli?” Is it General Elections campaigning all year round in and out of season? Will there be a change of government and even so will anything change?
Those who advocate change would do well to understand that real change must first take place in the heart and minds of the people. If the UWP is to make a significant dent in the tight hold of the administration on the next elections they must move back into aggressive mode with new voices, new faces well organised outings, and try to regain first blood. The old must become new again.
Battling with the “animal program” has been a trip to nowhere. That battle has worked for the PM in 2009 and still does. The UWP must assertively push forward its leader as the alternative and insistently show how he is better for the job not just assume that people know. Elections season is no more than 30 months away. The focus must be on plans for the development of Waitikubuli because a UWP ‘Let’s outdo Tony’ addiction can turn reality into a rose coloured illusion as it did in 2005 and 2009 elections.
Yet the Labour Party should be very careful. The PM implies that his large collection of ministers are not fully working, we know the economy is not working, the last Commissioner knows the police force is not working properly as he tells us officers are in bed with drug dealers, the Public Works is not working, tourism is hardly working, the farmers bitter experience is that agriculture is not working and our youth have given up looking to find work but on the other hand VAT is working, the underground drugs and money laundering economy is working, the bobol and illicit gains factory is working and the passport business is thriving.
Yet despite all of this everybody seems to be shrugging “So what, who else?” It is this “so what, who else” attitude from the people that breeds arrogance. But that kind of arrogance brought about by too many easy successes can have its price and could cause an addiction to power which can itself create a rose coloured illusion of invincibility.
According to the Chinese saying, “The same water that floats the boat can sink the boat.”
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