In addressing the opening session of the 2016 Annual Conference of Delegates of the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), Castries East MP, Opposition Leader and Political Leader of the SLP, Philip J. Pierre, called on members to remain focused and work to build a stronger party.
Pierre said “Labour will return stronger than ever” in the next general election as he promised to ensure that more is done to improve the party’s image, increase membership and to keep its various branches active.
He said the SLP took tough decisions to rescue the economy and which it inherited from the UWP in 2011.
According to Pierre, the SLP administration saved Saint Lucia from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
But he said the SLP has respected the decision of the people who voted for the incumbent government.
Below is part of Pierre’s speech at the opening session of the conference:
It is with a sense of deep humility that I stand here in this beautiful historic village of Belle Vue in Vieux Fort, a garrison of the St. Lucia Labour Party to address you as your servant leader — a role for which I have to follow in some huge footsteps.
I follow the example of our founding father, the late Comrade Honourable Sir George F.L. Charles, the first Chief Minister of Saint Lucia, our hero trade union liberator, who would have been one hundred years old this year. I pledge never to forget and endeavour to always follow the example of that stalwart and leader.
I follow in the footsteps of Kenneth Foster who fought for labour in its darkest days and held our party together. Comrade Foster is still alive — although in failing health — and we wish him well.
I follow in the footsteps of the Right Honourable Allan Louisy, former Prime Minister, leader and patriot, who captained our party to a resounding victory in 1979.
I follow in the footsteps of and salute Sir Julian Robert Hunte, leader of our party from 1983 to 1997 for his selfless love, work and contribution to our party. Sir Julian led our party when all seemed lost — and with organization, determination, discipline, tenacity and hard work, he took us twice to within one seat of electoral victory.
We thank you, Sir Julian, and we look forward to your continued contribution to our party and an improvement in your health.
I follow in the footsteps of our esteemed former leader and Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny D Anthony, intellectual and thinker, who led our party and has served for twenty years as parliamentary representative for Vieux Fort South and Prime Minister for fifteen years. I thank him for allowing me to serve in his cabinet for fifteen years and as Deputy Prime Minister for four years. I salute you, comrade, for the contribution that you made to our country and party.
Your legacy will be that of education, human and social development, guiding our country successfully through economic transition to modernization and ensuring that justice and the rule of law prevails.
I thank you Comrade.
I salute all stalwarts. I salute Brother Tom Walcott, the longest-serving member of our party, all patriots, elders, long-serving brothers and sisters of our great party.
I remember the contribution of all deceased members who worked in the vineyard but did not see the Promised Land. I remember my confidante and protector, my friend Nigel “Stokes” Joseph, who would have cherished this moment with me. For all deceased brothers and sisters, let us observe a moment of reflection.
I thank the member if the Castries East Constituency Group and the people of Castries East for staying with me and electing me five times after the first defeat. I thank you.
I thank the Former Political Leader, candidates, chairmen, campaign managers, executive members, canvassers, election workers and most importantly the 37,000 people who voted for Labour on June 6th. We appreciate your support, you did not toil in vain. We have lost a battle, but not the war. I am proud of the way we conducted ourselves. We spoke the truth, we behaved professionally, we accepted our defeat in a dignified manner and we live to fight another day.
I guarantee you: Labour will return stronger than ever. Let us continue our work. Let us Organize, Mobilize and Consolidate for our victory, for the victory of all of our People and our Country.
Let me recognize and thank all our friends from overseas who have sent us greetings. We acknowledge the presence of the members of the diplomatic corps and thank them for the economic and social support that their countries have given to the people of Saint Lucia.
Allow me to pay special mention to our comrades from Venezuela who are experiencing some difficulties at this time. We look forward to an improvement in their economic and political situation and express our support for the elected government, democracy and the Rule of Law.
We also call for the immediate removal of the cruel economic embargo on our sister island Cuba. And we applaud President Obama for the decisive steps that he has taken to normalize relations with Cuba.
I thank you all.
OUR PARTY’S VALUES
Today we must signal to the world that our SLP party is different – we are a people with values. Our fundamental purpose for being in government is to develop a country that is based on principles of Bread, Freedom and Justice.
Comrades, going forward we have to nurture our party on those values that will improve the quality of life of all of our people –physically, emotionally and spiritually. We have to find means of assessing our gains and working on and eliminating our weaknesses as we seek to build a better society in the future.
THE SLP MUST BE A PARTY OF TRUST
Trusting each other will promote the kind of solidarity we need to be efficient and effective. This trust will transfer to our electorate who will defend our ideals, promote our values; this will pay big dividends at the polls. Tell them the truth on the economy and do not make false promises. When trust is lacking we become very intolerant of each other. It takes more time to get things done and when the public can sense this among themselves, they become disenchanted.
THE SLP MUST ALWAYS BE HONEST
The SLP must have a Zero Tolerance for corruption. Corruption sucks valuable resources from the country and must not be tolerated under any circumstances.
THE SLP MUST BE A PARTY OF INTEGRITY
Our actions must be consistent with our beliefs. When we fail, we must be ready to explain.
OUR PARTY MUST BE INCLUSIVE
All members of the party are important and their opinions must be respected. We must be prepared to use the talents of the youth, our women and the differently able. These groups have a reach that is often ignored and most relevant in today’s politics. The thrust has to be to empower them and let them go out and win souls.
Our party must be like an umbrella ready to embrace all men and women of goodwill who are interested in the development of the country.
OUR PARTY MUST BE ONE OF RESPECT
We must have respect for the rule of law, for the opinion of others and for each other. All our members must be treated with dignity. We must respect differences of views and criticism and that should never warrant disrespect.
OUR PARTY MUST BE DISCIPLINED
We must obey the constitution of the country and the constitution of our party. We must be prepared to follow the procedures and processes of our party.
OUR PARTY MUST BE ACCOUNTABLE
We must be a party of service and must always be prepared to account to those whom we serve. We must be in politics to serve people, to better humanity, to improve the quality of life of the less privileged and of all our people.
OUR PARTY MUST BE ADAPTABLE
We operate in a dynamic environment, we must embrace modern and emerging technology. However, we must never allow technology to compromise the reason why we exist as a party.
OUR PARTY MUST PRACTICE EQUITY
We must be fair and ensure that all people have equal opportunity to use the services offered by the state. Meritocracy must be the rule, not the exception.
OUR PARTY MUST ALWAYS SHOW COURAGE
We must always show the courage to do what is right. Our task may be challenging, but we must encourage ourselves to have the strength to follow our convictions, even in times of adversity and difficulty.
We are Labour because we trust, because we are honest, because we have integrity, because we are inclusive, because we are respectful, because we are disciplined, because we are accountable, because we are adaptable, because we believe in equity and we have courage.
This is Labour! This is why we are Labour.
THE WAY FORWARD
Today in this constituency of Vieux Fort North, located in the South of Saint Lucia – Labour territory — we signal to the world that the Labour Party is ready. We are ready to continue our work in rebuilding our country, transforming our economy, improving the standard of living of our people, particularly the working class.
We are ready to continue taking your education to the next level; to bring technology to our educational system, to train our children for the new world.
We are ready to improve your quality of life, to give you affordable health care.
In the period between now and the next election we must stay focused. As our theme says, we must Organize, Mobilize and Consolidate.
We must organize our constituency groups and branches; we must increase memberships to our party; we must expand our base with members who are committed and ready to pay their party dues. Our party will never be financed by big business. We are a people’s party. Membership dues and contributions must be the main source of our financing so we will not be obliged to any interest group when we are in government.
All party groups and auxiliaries must be re-energized and re-engineered. We must pay special attention to our youth and women. Our youth need more than lip service. We are the party of the youth. We were the ones who made Universal Primary and Secondary Education possible for the youth. We are the party that built more schools and sent more poor children to university so that they can uplift themselves from poverty. We must tell our young people about the rich history of our party, our leaders and our founder George F.L. Charles, so that they can be inspired to join this great party.
In summary, we must expand the membership of our party and strengthen our party organs and groups.
Politics is about people. We cannot win without people. Improving people — that is why we are in politics. We have to convince people to join our party to get involved. Our party must attract the right people. However, they will not join us unless we can offer them an alternative. In the future, our party must continue to develop and promote its policies so we can attract new members.
Our Labour Party has a remarkable history. We are traditionally the party for workers and for small businesses, a party that supports entrepreneurship and ethical business practices.
We have nothing to be ashamed of — we served our country well both in and out of government.
We must unite all progressive forces, all men and women of goodwill who want to see a prosperous Saint Lucia.
Our party has room for everyone. Let us leave here today with the resolve to go to every part of our country and preach the philosophy of Labour and why we must embrace the principles of Labour.
This is your charge. Let’s consolidate on the gains of the past and prepare for a brighter future.
Brothers, Sisters and Comrades. It has been a difficult year for our party. We have lost the general elections, but that is the past. We must now think of the future.
This government has shown already that it is unfit and not capable of governing. They are too spiteful and vindictive. Their energies are spent on who and how to victimize. Just ask the Civil Servants. We must be different. We must never feel sorry for ourselves. Your attendance here this afternoon demonstrates that you are strong, dedicated and ready for the task.
We are on the right side of history. It was Albert Einstein who said “Truth is what stands the test of experience”. Our experience has shown us that we always have to be ready to rescue our country from the mismanagement of the UWP. We must be ready. Let us stay united.
Remember the words of John F. Kennedy “Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men”. We will need that strength to carry on. Ours is a date with destiny. Our commitment is to the cause of good government.
Let’s stay together and remember the words of Henry Forde: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again more intelligently” — and always remember what the great Martin Luther King said: “The time is always right to do what is right!”
The time is now. I am ready to work with you. Are you ready?
Long live Labour!
Long live the people of Saint Lucia!
I thank you.