Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has told supporters of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) to be prepared to vote the party into office for an unprecedented fifth consecutive occasion, downplaying any right within the organisation as it prepares for the national poll he has said will be held later this year.
“This is a family; we may have our grumbles and our frustrations. But when you’re on your marks, you leave the frustration and the grumbles. We stay together because we have done much. And we have many, many more rivers to cross in the interest of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to lift our country higher,” Gonsalves told supporters.
In the last general election, the ULP won by a slender one-seat majority as had been the case in the previous poll when it won by an 8-7 margin and Gonsalves, who has been head of the government since March 2001, remained confident of victory in the upcoming polls.
“We got to do it together as a Labour family. It’s love. And where we have setbacks, we turn them into advances. This is not the time anymore to grumble about this or that. This is a time to celebrate our progress and to lift our country higher for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren to take it to higher heights.
“This is a bit of nostalgia for me because this is the last time I will preside at a national council meeting where candidates for general elections have been selected,” the 74-year-old leader said, adding “we have to make sure that in these elections, we don’t stumble at all.
“And if anybody stumbles, someone must be there to hold us up and take us forward to victory. Everybody who has been selected has the most important quality: love for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he added.
Gonsalves said that none of the ULP supporters must be at home on election day and as he individually endorsed each of the party’s five new candidates, said the slate comprises of warriors “and I am the most seasoned of all the warriors”.
He said that he was “born with a rebel seed” and as he now became a matured person “I keep a patience and a calm.
“When everybody around losing their head, I keep mine. But I keep it focused on fighting always for the people. And anytime you have any uncertainty or any problem and you hear me get up in Parliament or on the radio and calm you and say we have a way out of this difficulty, we have a way out of this challenge on every single occasion, every single occasion.
He said St. Vincent and the Grenadines had been able to withstand challenges that have crippled other countries.
Gonsalves said he has been a political activist for 52 years, adding that he is the only person in St. Vincent and the Grenadines who has contested every election since 1979, when the island attained political independence from Britain.
“I put my bucket down among the people in love and caring and my runs are on the tins. Those who want to beat them off ha’ to go to the wicket of leadership, but in these difficult and perilous times, this is not a time for a trainee.
“This is not a time for an apprentice. This is the time for a seasoned warrior and a master builder who has a record of service to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said.