RED HERRINGS

A lot of red herrings are being dragged into the public debate of Denzil Douglas’ leadership of this country by his defenders and spin doctors.

Red herrings such as:

1. I’m only now questioning Denzil’s leadership.

2.I’m greedy and power-hungry, and I have a personal grudge and vendetta against Dr. Douglas.

3.I’m a traitor to the Labour Party and I’m  just another Michael Powell.

Let me deal with these.

Firstly, even if I am saying these things for the first time, (which I am not), does that make the content of my comments any less true?

And do you know what’s weird about this? Many of the persons who claim that I am only now speaking out are the same people to whom I have, over the years, directly raised my concerns and dissatisfaction.

Not only that, but many of them shared the very same concerns .However, unlike me, they lapped their tails and spoke ingratiatingly and spinelessly out of the other side of their mouths when they faced Denzil.

And today, they are at the forefront of the ‘cuss Dwyer army’. I have little doubt that in time they will come around, God bless them.

Further, and for the record, let me remind you all that a memorandum, which I sent in 2002 to Cabinet and which contained a long list of concerns and complaints, was,(I am told), leaked by one of Denzil’s gophers, and it found itself in the Democrat newspaper.

I was informed back then that Denzil even went to the Governor-General to tell him that I had leaked the Memorandum or had caused it to be leaked, that Cabinet confidentiality had been seriously breached as a result, and that he wanted to fire me, but that the Governor-General persuaded him not to do so.

Some years later, around 2005-2006, I stood in a Labour Party Annual Conference at the Marriott Hotel, in the presence of several hundred persons and expressed the view that in the interests of the Party and the nation, the transition towards new leadership should begin.

By the next day, my comments were on WINN FM.

Further, my articles and my public comments over the years clearly indicate concerns with Denzil’s leadership.

Plus, there were two retreats of the Cabinet and the Labour Party high-ups to discuss concerns, not only of mine, but of other Cabinet members in relation to Denzil’s leadership. And word of these retreats got out.

Finally, a meeting was held at the Marriott Hotel a few years ago. Present were Denzil, Sam, Timothy, Asim, then Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson, Hartley Henry and myself.

That meeting was held to seek a way to resolve the concerns of Sam, Timothy and myself with regard to Denzil’s leadership. And word of it got out too.

So when people ask: Why only now?, I am left to wonder if they really have forgotten all of this, or they might be just playing smart.

Again for the record, let me tell you that the very first person to whom I raised the idea of transitioning to new leadership was Denzil himself. That was before the 2004 elections, and he said that he had been thinking of it also, and that he had Nigel Carty in mind to succeed him as Party Leader.

When I told this to Sam, he said: “Don’t make jokes! You mean succeed him in Number 6?”

Then I explained to him that I had spoken with Denzil about the leadership of the Party and the Government, but Sam obviously had no appetite for that notion.

But that is what Denzil said to me, and it has been borne out, as far as I’m concerned, by his efforts over the ensuing years,( and becoming more openly recognized in recent times), to disrespect and discredit Sam, and Tim.

Secondly, on the allegation of greed, power hunger, grudge and vendetta, I almost don’t know where to start.

Politics put me in debt, not in wealth.

I was asked to be a candidate; I did not chase down anybody begging for it. I publicly declared that I wished to serve only two terms then I was asked by my constituents to stay on for a third. I voluntarily stood down( after having told Denzil that I would in that same meeting before the 2004 elections in which he said that he was looking to Nigel to replace him as leader), and I gave up high office and position.

And, in any case, what is there for me to begrudge Denzil, or any other person, for?

What kind of person would be quick to accuse you of begrudging them just because you express an opinion that he or she doesn’t like?

Are the people at the International Monetary Fund guilty of begrudging Denzil because since even before the year 2000 they have, in their guarded and professional language, consistently scolded him for his fiscal looseness

Have a look at these excerpts from a document:

The major challenge…. is to strengthen the Federation’s fiscal position through prudent fiscal policies, in order to encourage increased levels of savings that are critically needed to finance supporting infrastructure, which in turn should attract private investment and induce further economic growth. With this in mind, the Ministry has incorporated the following fiscal guidelines in determining the fiscal outlook: salaries and wages are to be kept within the range of 40-45% of recurrent expenditure, and debt service charges are to be limited to 15% of recurrent revenue…………. .”

“These targets are crucial to the maintenance of macroeconomic stability in our Federation. The limit on debt service charge and personal emoluments is intended to ensure that a substantial portion of our revenue collections is devoted to the actual delivery of services to the general public. If too much of our resources is committed to the servicing of debt and the payment of salaries and wages, the ability of Government to carry out its mandate and upgrade the service it offers would be hamstrung by inadequate resources to procure the materials and equipment for the delivery of service”.

“The total debt of the Central Government now stands at $321.1 million or 52.1% of GDP. This includes external debt of $141.4 million and domestic debt of $179.7 million”.

“Domestic debt is excessively high and places considerable strain on Central Government finances. It has serious implications for private sector development. To the extent that Government utilizes more and more of the available domestic savings, the private sector may be starved of funds in a process known as “crowding out”. This could have serious implications for growth, development and foreign exchange earnings”.

“…if Government is not to escalate its already massive domestic debt, the Government itself will have to generate a significant portion of domestic savings through recurrent surpluses.”

“There is still a(financing) gap to be funded. It is hoped that this gap would be funded by new revenue measures along the lines suggested by the IMF Tax Review Report, by the establishment of economic rates for services provided by Government to the public, and by continued improvement in the revenue collection system…”

Will the ‘grudge accusers’ now say that the author of that document, which was written in 1997, also held a grudge against Denzil?

 

On Thursday, 24th February,2011, at Greenlands Park during Operation Rescue’s second public meeting, I will, God willing, reveal the identity of that ‘grudging’ author.

Thirdly, the labelling of me as a traitor to the Labour Party and as just another Michael Powell.

And they’re making the Powell analogy in a dismissive manner as if he had no effect.

I wonder if they forgot that Michael Powell’s 332 votes helped Asim win the East Basseterre seat in 1993. Michael had taken a stand against PAM. In fact, he had formed a third party, the UPP.

I have never taken a stand against Labour. I could have!

If I had resigned my Parliamentary seat in the summer of 2008 when I stepped down from Cabinet, Denzil would have been forced to hold a by-election or a general election within 90 days. Would his Central Basseterre candidate or other candidates have been ready? Where were Marcella and Ghost on the polls at that time? And how strong was Asim?

Further, I could have stood on a platform and opposed Labour back then, and even afterwards.

But my issues were not with the Party. Instead, they were with the leadership of Denzil.

So it’s not I who betrayed Labour. It’s Denzil who did so, and  not only did he betray  Labour, but he has also wrecked it, turning it into his personal and private plaything, ruthlessly and callously manipulating people into a state of compromise, dependency and even servility to him, and leaving a trail of carnage that would break the hearts of the leaders past, while creating false hope and misplaced loyalty among his personal diehards, and throwing disappointment, dejection and despair into the hearts of almost everybody else.

Only someone who holds the philosophy and traditions of Labour, and the dignity and humanity of people, in contempt would do such a thing.

And that’s why so many red herrings are being dragged into the public debate on his leadership. He needs to divert attention from the central issue, which is his leadership.

As I end, let me give you a heads-up.

At next Thursday’s public meeting, we‘ll be covering some new ground in terms of content. And we’ll be proposing next steps in terms of action.

We’ll also have a segment towards the end in which members of the audience will be allowed to come on stage briefly to ask a question or make a comment. The objective is to use our platform to encourage and assist the people in finding their voices in the responsible and respectful debate of the nation’s  issues.

Remember, this is not the platform for Labour, PAM, or any other political party. We’re not running for or against anybody. In fact, we’re not running at all. Rather, we’re standing, and we’re calling on you, the people, to stand too, in your own cause, whatever the issue may be, and whenever it arises.

We must set higher standards, we must keep leaders’ feet close to the fire, and we must fire leaders( whether in Government or in Opposition) who fall short, whether it’s at election time or not.

Ours is the people’s platform. Your platform.  And we look forward to seeing you in your numbers, Labour, PAM and the others, sitting and standing next to each other in peace and mutual respect, and listening intently, just as you did at our first meeting.

Country Above Self…………….Unity…………………Operation Rescue

 

 

 

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