“Being Denzil Douglas”

Having set his sights on leading the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party, the young and impressionable doctor blazed the political trail and in 1993, he lead thousands of Kittitians, young and old, to rally for change from thirteen years under the PAM administration.

Douglas’s agenda then included galvanizing the support of the people as a whole and with a government that had seemingly lost favour with the electorate, it seemed there was no better time to be Denzil Douglas than in 1993. His presence had mass appeal allowing him to inch closer to the political prize.  As the federation sat on the brink of civil unrest in 1993, Dr. Denzil Douglas forced the hands of those who held the reigns of power and with the help of the “people” in a thrust to “finish de job”, made his way to Government Headquarters in 1995.

Today, those who decry his leadership style have had to admit that not withstanding all his shortcomings, Denzil Douglas has successfully lead the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party into four general elections. In fact, as the nation sits on the brink of yet another general election, the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas is on target to make yet another unprecedented entry into the annals of history as he prepares to lead the Labour Party into a fifth election bid.

Recently tapped as political leader for the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party at its 81st annual convention, the stalwarts and supporters of the Labour party have given him the nod yet again. It begs the question, “given the direction in which the nation has been steered over the last eighteen years, what is it about Dr. Denzil Douglas that will convince the masses to endorse him in order to cement his return to St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party for a remarkable fifth term?”

Dubbed the leader who has a cache of personalities amounting to up to “10 man in one” Dr. Denzil Douglas can heartily thank the electorate for placing full confidence in his ability to supremely command the reigns of power.

Being Denzil Douglas means relying on the support of many who agree he should ignore an almost six month old Motion of No Confidence and who insist that good governance means committing the very wrongs the Labour Party accused the former administration of committing.

Indeed, being Denzil Douglas is leading a flock of loyal supporters who say yes to social programs such as YES and PEP, whether or not these programs typically surface around election time and fizz out once the votes are counted. Herein lies a concerned doctor, leader of a nation, who brings relief to the poor, the unemployed and aspiring youths eager to start their careers. Being Denzil Douglas takes vision even if it means the free rein of “goodwill” at election time.

Being Denzil Douglas is impossible without a loyal cast of political activists, who “fall in” and say yes to protect the status quo no matter how much the nation begs for change. They help make “Being Denzil Douglas” the success he appears to be. 

They wear various hats no doubt. Some are accomplished spin-doctors who have mastered the art of “truth adjustment”. They tongue lash those who genuinely want the nation’s social fabric to be restored from the political stalemate that has hung over it, particularly in recent months. Others, not wanting to publicly call wrong right, remain frighteningly silent, hopeful that the pressure to speak out against blatant ills committed by those who should know better doesn’t mount.

Being Denzil Douglas means swapping thousands of prized lands for debt and declaring “poof it gone” all the while suggesting that “De lan’ ain gone no way; it still there”.

Being Denzil Douglas is speaking to gender imbalance and the need for equity in parliament and then adding a male senator to prove it.

It is promising to make life better prior to elections but implementing 17% VAT not even one year after.

It is publicly expressing hurt at the sight of electricity surcharges on SKELEC bills that have spiraled upwards some 85% since the last general elections; a hard pill for the general populace to swallow during the heart of a global economic downturn.

It is seeing nothing wrong with miles of green fencing stretching from one village to the next for which the people are yet to see returns.

It is using the SIDF at the whims and fancy of the political clique of supporters who are privy to the details about the fund and who see nothing wrong with the lack of accountability to the former sugar workers or the public in general about the much talked about fund.

Being Denzil Douglas is stymieing the voices of his colleagues for daring to respectfully challenge him. It is defaming the character of anyone who he deems a formidable threat to his leadership. It is checking the voice of dissension, chopping off the head of any opposing voice and promising a succession plan every election, yet successfully failing to deliver such plan time and again.

Truth is, for the last several years, we have placed the blame for our nation’s economic and social failings solely at the feet of our federation’s Prime Minister. But “Being Denzil Douglas” does not and CANNOT happen in a vacuum. Every last one of us is culpable. Some of us, by our unwavering support for glaring wrong doing, some by our deafening silence in the face of wrong.

How is it that those close to our leader and who are specialists in “image control” have not condemned the derogatory words he spews? How is it the great thinkers and patriotic advisors who surround Dr. Denzil Douglas see nothing wrong with the avoidance of transparency and integrity in public life legislation? 

The avid support and loyalty of men and women who see absolutely “nothing wrong with wrong” have helped us to get to this place.  It takes those who choose to go to class for school to “call een” and to hear jumpy buzz phrases for them to “fall een” with full confidence in order for Denzil Douglas to be who he is. Today, some of the local radio stations blast “dem dey a hog” sound bites and our leader is glorified as a rock star. Some even joke and call each other hogs! What a hoggish legacy our future generations will learn about regarding this time in our federation’s history.

The long serving political leader who now stands ready to offer himself yet again to the electorate may well remind us that “being Denzil Douglas” is really about being whatever the people of the federation haveallowed him to be over the course of his political tenure. 

Former Governor General Sir Probyn Inniss recently weighed in on the power of the Prime Minister’s office by stating, “We have a position which has become so absolutely powerful, and when people tell you that they are afraid …it is real, because the Prime Minister then, whoever he or she happens to be at the time, has so much power that not even the legislature can keep him in check.”

 

In 1980, it was “the people” of the nation who engineered political change. The Right Honourable Dr. Kennedy A. Simmonds was credited as the conduit of the people’s will.

In 1995, the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas was well placed to carry out the wishes of “the people” who were ready to rid the country of PAM. He rose to the occasion with grandeur.

Whatever happens next to the political landscape of the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis will not be about Denzil Douglas. Rather, it will be about “being citizens” of the federation and the collective commitment of our people to stand on the very principles that many of our ancestors have been loved and revered for; men and women who envisioned a better social and economic climate in which ALL our people could prosper

Leaders are the agents of the people who are charged with the responsibility of advancing the people’s cause, not the personal agenda of politicians. In fact, according to John Maxwell, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”

Only “the people” can best decide whether Dr. Denzil Douglas’ tenure warrants his return to power whenever the next general elections are called. 

Only “the people” can ensure that their will supersede the will of the politicians. 

No more blaming Denzil Douglas for “Being Denzil Douglas.”






 

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