BVI News

COMMENTARY: The third party Trojan horse

Dickson Igwe

By Dickson Igwe, Contributor

The establishment of a third party before the upcoming general election that must be held before the end of 2019 is now imminent. And there are indications that the new third party will not be a crash and burn event like third parties have been in past years.

Now this old boy has always had socialist inclinations. He has never pretended otherwise. He believes strong communities can only really be achieved and sustained through socialist type governance.

Government is as critical to business enterprise as the entrepreneur, in his books. Social democracy means governance from the bottom up. It also means transparent, equitable, accountable, and honest governance.

Investment in the lowest common denominator: the disabled, the child, the socially vulnerable, the poor, the working classes, and the struggling middle classes, through great social infrastructure, such as quality education, good healthcare, and social development, are the ways to go to grow a sustainable economy in his estimation.

Hence, he is certainly not given to the elitist theory of governance: that some are born to rule; or that the wealthy and privileged sit there because they have some divine right to drive society; hence his belief in grassroots politics. Yes he is a socialist. Or better put; a social democrat.

When he lived in the UK many, many moons back, he was a staunch British Labour Party supporter. He is ideologically a socialist. He is a John Maynard Keynesian. He believes in a mixed economy. He is also a believer in government intervention in the economy, especially when capitalism isn’t working, which is a very common occurrence. He believes certain businesses are best left to the public sector, such as port infrastructure, healthcare, and road construction.

Austerity, a baby of one percent trickledown type economics, has put Britain on the proverbial precipice, as Brexit clearly shows today.

So he will always support any political group that is socially, economically, and politically oriented towards lifting up the suffering masses, as opposed to ensuring the rule of the one percent.

Sadly, none of the political parties in the BVI today appear to support his vision. He is yet to hear about specifics that will better ‘Jack and Jill Average’ in deep social and economic terms, from any political party.

All he hears is visionless ‘par amble’.

Scratch the surface of any political party in the BVI today and just beneath is a platform of wealthy and well connected individuals who will decide what happens at the top. It is the politics of ‘what is in it for me’.

There is no true socialism in the BVI. That makes yours truly an objective political commentator. He is not beholden to any political group, or better put. He will always support the group that best lifts up ‘Jack the Struggling Man’.

OK, these are trying times for these beautiful Virgin Islands sitting in the world’s most pristine Caribbean seas. Jack and Jill the voters, are having a hard time seeing the wood from the trees in terms of political choice.

There is a lot of fear and uncertainty in the country. This should be fertile ground for political change. But people remain, or so it would appear, reluctant to overturn the apple cart, or to require fundamental change in the political geography.

There is one dominant political party that rules the roost. And as this old boy has stated, it may well be on its way to a third term if its opponents do not alter course dramatically and unify. That unification, and the burial of the old hurt and pain, is not going to happen – so it seems.

A third political party born out of the main opposition party is about crash into the political battle field. It will alter the political landscape dramatically. Why? Because there are indications that the support for the new group will be a lot stronger than what it was for third parties of the past. The Third Party will be composed of a significant subset of the Virgin Islands Party, and it’s ex leader, and his allies.

That is a simple fact known to all. The man in the Third remains strong in his District. If he is thinking of rowing his own boat, then now is the time to do so. He has nothing to lose. He is stronger in his Third District than the man in the Second District was at the last general election.

So, how will this new political realty impact the upcoming general election? That is the billion dollar question. It is a complex equation. Politics is not a physical science. It is a social science. Politics is studying both power and probability, with the human element the deciding factor. The human element is the most difficult factor to predict in politics. It makes political forecasting the proverbial ‘mug’s game’.

There are three scenarios in this perennial observer’s political forecast before the day after the big day in 2018 or 2019 sometime. Political prediction is a mug’s game indeed, but worth an effort, just for cooling the national political temperature.

The first is the NDP wins the forthcoming general election outright, but with a reduced majority. This remains for this old boy the most likely outcome. Why? Because of the advantages of incumbency and demography.

The NDP today is where the VIP was yesteryear, before the VIP threw away the power it had through unwise policies, and a lack of vision. The VIP has some attractive young politicians. They should be able to win at least two to three new seats in a general election. That would be a great thing. The country needs new political blood.

The NDP has a lock on the districts, especially the districts on the central and eastern side of the island. That lock will be very difficult to pick. And come what may, the NDP has At Large players that will be very difficult to ‘take out’.

That makes life tremendously difficult for an opposition party, but even more so, when that opposition is so divided, as the present opposition is.

So what is the second most likely scenario? For this old boy, the second most likely scenario is the third party, let’s call it the People’s Party of the Virgin Islands, or the Virgin Islands People’s Party, just for naming sake, wins two seats. The NDP wins six seats, and the VIP 5 seats. It takes 7 seats to govern. This will give a third party that gift the Unionists in the UK presently possess in sharing power with a minority government – it will hold the balance of power.

The new party will be able to make demands that have to be met. It will make offers no credible dealmaker will be able to refuse. Any diligent observer of Virgin Islands politics will not have to guess who the third party will work with.

Option three and option two have equal odds in this writer’s books.

In option three, the VIP wins seven seats or eight seats outright. This happens if the people of the country decide very strongly that change must happen.

That means the third party option is rejected completely by the people. This will happen if the VIP puts forth the very best candidates in a very limited pool of political talent in the BVI presently.

It will mean the VIP overturning the very strong district advantage the NDP holds presently. It will also mean the VIP crushing the third party insurgency, especially in the Third District.

This will be a tall order indeed. The VIP of today is not the same VIP of yesteryear – the fearful political warhorse of Hamilton Lavity Stoutt and Ralph Telford O’Neal; true heavyweights.

Yes, the VIP still has a lot of work to do. The impossible mountain to climb has turned into a steep hill of recent, owing to specific issues. A steep hill is easier scalable, than an impossible mountain.

That is the one piece of comfort this old boy and socialist offers the VIP.

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