KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has dismissed the political party proposed by his former Movement for National Unity colleague Matthew Thomas and activist Junior Bacchus, both former supporters of the Unity Labour Party (ULP).
“… it shows our democracy is alive and well but I don’t think they are going to make very much of a headway,” Gonsalves said of the proposed “Political Party For Political Reformation Equality Socialization and Services” (PRESS).
Gonsalves noted that Thomas and Bacchus — both radio talk show hosts — are former supporters of the ULP, which came to office in 2001.
“It is in the nature of life,” he said adding that both men stopped supporting the ULP during its first term and “opposed strenuously” the party in the 2005 and 2010 general elections, which the ULP won.
“This is a free and democratic country. Anyone can get up and form any political party that they wish to form,” Gonsalves said.
“I note with interest that in its policy statement that it is a social democratic party, which is what we (the ULP) are. So that they are saying to me that they accept the philosophy of the ULP government and the people of this country has seen the manifestation of that philosophy in public practise,” Gonsalves said.
“Maybe it has something to do with Ralph,” he said, referring to himself.
“You don’t form a party because you don’t like Ralph. The people have shown in three successive elections that they like Ralph,” he added.
“I mean, frankly speaking, I don’t think they would have very far to go. But as I say, the Green Party had come along and other than the occasional press release you would notice that … they are most influential outside of the time when people are doing serious business, for instance voting in an election,” Gonsalves said of the party led by Ivan O’Neal, a former treasurer of the ULP.
The main opposition New Democratic Party and the ULP are the only parties with seats in the nation’s 15-member Parliament, where the ULP has a one-seat majority. The People Movement for Change, another political entity here, says it has no immediate plans to contest elections.
“So, it shows our democracy is alive and well but I don’t think they are going to make very much of a headway,” Gonsalves said of PRESS.
“Of course, the very fact that I say I don’t think they are going to make very much of a headway, in their minds, they would say, ‘Ah you see, he is running scared because he says they won’t make much of a headway’,” Gonsalves said.
“I wish them well,” he further stated.
The main objectives of PRESS include building a level of self-reliance within each individual and in the nation as a whole.
It will also strive to create “as much as possible an environment that affords equal opportunities for all”.
PRESS also hope to inculcate in the minds of all that they have a stake in the nation and says that on no occasion must citizens be made to feel like aliens.
Thomas and Bacchus explained the party’s policy on radio Monday night and encouraged citizens to “study it, be critical of it, add to it, subtract, divide it, put it how you want, make your comments”.