About six weeks ago I made a tentative promise to someone that I would no longer mention the former prime minister by name nor refer to him in my weekly opinion pieces, except in comparison with another PM. That friend believes deeply that the electorate has turned a page to a new leader and only comparisons with the past can cast new light. But to make reasonable comparisons the incumbent must be allowed the same time as given his predecessor to create jobs and turn the economy around. Meantime, the people of Vieux Fort will decide for themselves their next political move.
Last weekend, a picture on page 18 of the STAR convinced me that my friend is correct. We ought completely to disregard the former prime minister, save to recommend that he get himself professional help. That picture said it all. Everyone appeared to be concentrating on what Prime Minister Chastanet was saying as he addressed a small gathering at La Resource—everyone except the Vieux Fort MP. He appeared angry, his gaze fixed on something absolutely removed from what was happening a few feet from him.
The picture returned me to an earlier time when the nation’s prime minister was Mr. Stephenson King. At the few official activities the then opposition leader attended he refused to acknowledge the man who had replaced him. He refused to eat with fellow MPs in the members lounge when his party was in opposition. Perhaps he resented his transfer from the people’s “great house” to “out house”. Yes, a weird notion—but who knows how some minds work? Especially minds that may have suffered damage at an early age. Some people simply cannot handle what they see as rejection!
From my perspective, the earlier mentioned picture projected such hatred, such disdain and, yes, such hurt as could emanate only from a very dark place. I would wager it really had little to do with Prime Minister Allen Chastanet. There are to be sure some ignoramuses still left in the opposition party who may think otherwise. Their collective hate is limitless. I go further and state that none, except those that also have been affected by the darkness earlier mentioned, would behave so toward a Prime Minister not of their own party. Allen Chastanet is the island’s seventh Prime Minister in thirty-seven years of Independence. (I would have said six and a half, but Mr. Michael Pilgrim may take offence!)
This is the right time for the nation to discuss, (for possible inclusion in a revised Constitution), a compulsory psychological test for all persons who wish to present themselves as leaders of a political group. Henceforth, no person should be allowed to contest local general elections, as political leader, until after eighteen months or more of rigorous questioning by recognized psychiatrists, psychologists and the most experienced reporters. Party hacks masquerading as journalists need not apply!
Real change of leadership should begin with a new model constitution. The people have the power to include such a test or something resembling it for politicians who wish to lead the country. Now is an opportune moment to import changes to the Constitution. Such change ought to begin with the three or four agreed most important clauses. Other amendments can wait, if the people so decide.
It’s not too much to ask for calm and peaceful transition of government as so many here have demonstrated. Poor losers should have no place in the island’s politics. These unhappy individuals went gagagoo after the vote in 2011. Why are they now so reluctant to accept the people’s choice at the June 6 ballot? Such party hacks are dangerous! The unfettered outrage of constant bickering, bellyaching and back-biting with such malicious intent must stop. This narrow mindset and partisan trash talking should be left in the dust of an election campaign. The UWP does it; why can’t the SLP? Those who make skin tone an issue in Caribbean politics are not fit to govern. Too bad that by our silence we have allowed such individuals to get away with blatant misinformation about their stewardship, in the process poisoning minds that might otherwise have been most productive.
The author takes a shot at what the former prime minister (extreme left) may have been thinking while his successor delivered his address at a public event last week.