Newly-elected Political Leader of the United Workers Party (UWP) Allan Chastanet has made a call for St. Lucia to move away from partisan politics which he said has dominated the political scene in the last 15 years.
The political leader is convinced that partisanship has only brought disunity among citizens and stifled the country’s development.
Declaring that his party will make the first move in achieving this feat, he said participation from all political factions will be paramount.
“The United Workers Party is going to endeavour to leave behind the partisan politics which divides us and which prevents us from realizing our full potential as a nation. We know it will not be easy and we know that this requires the participation of the other political parties in St. Lucia, but every journey starts with a first step,” he said while presenting an address to the nation on August 7,2013.
Chastanet further pledged that his party will seek to follow the legacy of UWP founder Sir John Compton who he said refused to put politics before the country’s development “and whose sole mission was to nurture and protect the public interest of all St. Lucians, not just those who supported his party”.
In addition, Chastanet argued that some of Sir Compton’s greatest friends and allies were members and supporters of the St. Lucia Labour Party (SLP). He furthermore lamented that civil and polite political debates are now a thing of the past.
“…In those days, we talked politics and disagreed with each other politely and civilly – the value of honest, differences of views and honest debate prevailed and we were the better for it,” he said.
“Over the past 15 years, we have seen a marked move away from this, and we now live in a time where people’s main interest in a party winning, is not ideological or philosophical, but rather personal and often, selfish. Party hacks abound, and they are often rewarded with government posts both here and abroad, lucrative contracts and other benefits, all paid for by us, the taxpayers. And it is we, as a nation, who lose out,” he said.
According to Chastanet, “this divisiveness which currently defines our country, and which places us into red and yellow camps, must stop.”
The political leader moreover appealed for discussions on “real” issues which actually affect the welfare of the nation as opposed to the “maypwee and personal character attacks which pass for political discourse”.
“It does nothing to further our cause as a developing nation, and it erodes the civility we have always extended to each other,” he said.
While acknowledging that Sir Compton cannot be replaced, Chastanet advised that citizens seek to achieve his vision which was centered on equal access to education, healthcare, employment and a chance at success.
“This is the vision that our party shares, and I declare to you today, that these will be the guiding principles, on which our party bases its philosophy and its actions moving forward,” he said.
“This is not to suggest that we ought not support whichever party we wish, in fact, this is our constitutional right and we must exercise it, but we must exercise it in a manner which advances the cause of St. Lucia’s progress, and which ultimately leads to the execution of goals, which make a better life for us and a brighter future for our children. We must recognize that our vote is a privilege, and we must exercise it in favour of those individuals or that party which we feel will best represent our national interest, and we must recognize, that each political party represents merely, a different set of ideological and philosophical values and goals,” he added.