BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - THE three political parties that are peddling a Unity Concept were officially launched as one body last Thursday (Sept. 26), as they seek to kick off their campaign to form the next government in St. Kitts and Nevis.
But the question that is lingering in the minds many individuals is...“Will such an arrangement really bring unity to the nation?”
The parties and their candidates who believe in this concept have however shown optimism that the arrangement could work and it was evident at their launch on Thursday evening at Greenlands Park.
The parties are: the People’s Action Movement (PAM), led by the Hon. Shawn Richards; the People’s Labour Party (PLP), led by the Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris; and the Concerned Movement (CCM), led by Nevis’ Premier Hon. Vance Amory.
Speaking at the launch of the Unity Movement, former PAM’s Leader Lindsay Grant claimed that the country had enough of partisan politics and their coming together would guarantee that the next generation is guarded.
“We have had enough of the partisan politics that have been destroying our country…and so we have come together to ensure that the next generation of Kittitians and Nevisians are protected.
“It is not about CCM, it’s not about PLP and its certainly not about PAM. Today’s historic event has everything to do with you, that is what tonight is all about and it is the very reason why we are here tonight.”
He added that Unity is open for all and paid to an old axiom.
“The Unity tent is large. The Unity tent it is open. The Unity tent we welcome you. There would be those who said to you that it can’t work. There would be those sceptics who said it will not work, but the good old adage says unity is strength.”
Grant’s optimism was followed up by Deputy Premier of Nevis and Deputy Leader of the Unity Movement Hon. Mark Brantley, who stated that what unites them is the urge to live up to the Federation’s motto.
“The thing that unites us is that is time for us now to live up to our motto and our creed of ‘Country above self’.”
He added that though they have had their differences in the past, their coming together is demonstrative of the maturity of the men involved.
“Those of us on this platform have had our differences. You have heard us in Parliament on occasions saying things about each other, but it is demonstrative and indicative of the maturity of the men that adorn this stage. We have said to put our past aside, put our differences aside and come together as one because from tonight there is no turning back.”
Nevis’ Premier Vance Amory, though absent at the launch, also shared his confidence in the concept and claimed the formation is one that emanated out of necessity rather than convenience.
His presentation was read by the CCM’s Chairman, Stadroy Tross.
“This marks a new development in the socio-political development of our country. This arrangement is different from the coalition governments that have been formed over the years.
“It is not a structure born out of convenience but rather one that is of necessity to break the political tribalism, political nepotism which have polarised our people in the past.”
The Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris, who was announced as the Leader of a three-party coalition, claimed that with the arrangement “St. Kitts and Nevis will never be the same again.
“To God be the glory, great things He has done and great things we will do. What they said was impossible to happen...it has happen before your very eyes.”
Dr. Harris also declared that Unity is about service to the people.
"We have decided that we will set aside all our political differences. We have decided that as we celebrate our 30th Anniversary of Independence, it is time once more for us to put the interest of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis first and foremost. Service to people is what Unity is about."
He also forecast the way forward with Unity.
“I see our country in the next few years growing at a decent pace, providing decent jobs for our people. I see a country properly managing its debt. I see a country where our citizens and residents are able to own a plot of land easily.
“Yes we can have a country built on the pillars of fairness, justice, equity, transparency, good governance and prosperity.”
With three parties that have different philosophies and opposed each other for years coming together, some scepticism was raised about the concept being a practical option.
In an interview earlier this year with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas described the Unity Concept as “an act of desperation”, efforts by the Opposition to form a Government of National Unity if they are successful in the next general elections.
Dr. Douglas said the Opposition has been very consistent in articulating this Unity Concept since December, but the Labour Party has also been consistent in pointing out that coalition governments are generally unstable and, in the current circumstance, the ruling party records of stability is important to note.
He described as “political prostitution” the Unity arrangement being discussed by the Opposition, adding that there is no common agenda but just a desire to remove the SKNLP from office.
Joining Dr. Douglas in his scepticism was Leader of the National Integrity Party (NIP) Glenroy Blanchette, who stated that the concept is marred with a lot of confusion and contradiction.
“…This concept of Unity Government that is being bandied about is contaminated with a lot of confusion and contradiction. The concept of Unity is a beautiful concept and I believe that they are throwing it out there because they hope that people are going to gravitate to that word unity. But the whole Concept of Unity Government must be clear. The people must understand what it’s really about because there is a lot of deception being peddled.
“The Concept of Unity Government says that it is a government that is made up of all - and I repeat - all the elected Parliamentarians…all! Nobody is being left out regardless of which party you are a part of. Once you become elected during a general election everybody will form the government. That is not what those who are pushing that Concept of Unity Government are saying to us…”
He further stated that his party does not support such an arrangement.
“And we the National Integrity Party, we do not support a unity government because of certain fundamental reasons…because when we search the political literature we see that the Concept of Unity Government is fraught with a lot of difficulties and problems.”
Now that the three major Opposition parties are under one umbrella and with Dr. Douglas, Blanchette and other members of his party, as well as many supporters of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party are of the view that the Unity Concept is just a vehicle being used to solicit votes in the upcoming elections, what are your views on this concept? Do you believe that the Unity Concept will unite the Federation and rid the nation of partisan politics? Or is it just a ‘unity’ of convenience for those involved to gain political power for their own agenda?