by Eulana Weekes
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The largest spike in executive members and candidates resigning at once from any political party in St. Kitts and Nevis came seven months after the General Elections on August 05, 2022.
The People’s Labour Party, the youngest political party in the Federation, is experiencing turbulent times as several members in close succession tendered their resignation from the Party.
Among those who recently resigned from the People’s Labour Party are Akilah Byron-Nisbett- former Deputy Political Leader and Candidate for Constituency Number 3, who resigned on March 24 and Nubian Greaux- Former Candidate for Constituency Number 2 on March 25. Additionally, Andrew Talbo Bass- Candidate for Constituency Number 8 and Warren Thompson- Chairperson of the Party, tendered their resignation on March 28, 2023.
Individuals resigning from a political party is not unusual, but what has transpired within the People’s Labour Party is historic, as never before have there been mass resignations from any political party within the Federation.
The resignations thus far indicate a more significant undercurrent as the resignation letters suggest that the People’s Labour Party has stepped away from its core values and principles.
Political Analyst Mr Peter Wickham was a guest on WINN FM’s Island Tea on Thursday morning, March 30, 2023, and chimed in on the developments within the People’s Labour Party.
“Within the Caribbean, it is not unusual when a political party fails to win to clear the debts in respect of all of the persons who were candidates and never made the grade. In that regard, the fact that you have resignations from people who did not succeed at the polls, I think, is a more significant observation. The key person in the People’s Labour Party is Dr Timothy Harris. I haven’t heard of him resigning, and against that background, I am also concerned about the future of the PLP once he continues to be there. The reality is a lot of these persons who associated with the PLP did so at a time when he was in Government, and it was in a position to offer certain benefits to individuals to be part of the team.”
The Pollster, whilst addressing the situation within the People’s Labour Party, compared it to the People’s Action Movement and suggested that both parties do some internal assessment to determine the way forward.
Wickham said, “I am not losing too much sleep…For me, the big conversion is that, in terms of opposition politics in St. Kitts, really surrounds the People’s Action Movement. The People’s Action Movement held the Government in coalition. The People’s Action Movement has essentially fallen from grace, and I think that we continue to ask questions of the PLP when the reality is that the PLP was in Government, they won two elections, increased their seat count on the second occasion, was able to control the Prime Ministership for two election cycles and then it fell out of favour. Ultimately, the PLP has some soul-searching to do, but on the face of it, it still commands more support nationally than the People’s Action Movement. My sense is that the conversation has to focus more so on what Dr Harris has to do in terms of his renewal and what his intentions are in terms of the next election; and then, on the other side, we need to hear from the People’s Action Movement regarding what it plans to do going forward and how it plans to strategies.”
Wickham suggests that one of the parties, if not both, should collapse if an opposition party stands a chance at ousting the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party in future elections.
Wickham added, “Right now, it seems to me like this is where the conversation is going. We need to determine which of the two political parties in the opposition will collapse first, whether it will be the PAM or whether it will be the PLP. We seem to be suggesting that the PLP seems better to collapse, and I think there are [people] in St. Kitts who believe that PAM will be better to collapse; but ultimately, one of them needs to collapse; if not, both of them will continue to remain out of office. I’m comfortable with that analysis of the situation, and I’m also comfortable that at this stage, I don’t get a sense that the PLP is interested in folding up and packing up and going away.”
However, Wickham opined that a united opposition is the best for St. Kitts and Nevis, highlighting that the individuals who had a hand in the collapse of the Team Unity Coalition made a mistake.
“The best thing for St. Kitts and Nevis is a unified opposition force that involves everyone who is not associated with the Labour Party. I think Team Unity did well in terms of capturing a lot of support that was restrained about the place, and I felt that it was the unit, the vehicle, that made more sense. When that unit was broken apart, I thought the reasons for it being broken apart were clearly beyond my understanding. I thought that there were short-sighted reasons, and I think that the persons who broke it up made a mistake in having done so; and I think we are now seeing the fact that a year later, ultimately, you are all worse off.”
Despite the resignations, The People’s Labour Party issued a statement announcing its intention to host its annual National Convention, highlighting that the term of all the Executive Members except that of the Party Leader and Deputy Party Leader expired on March 27, 2023. The PLP decided to host the Convention on or before June 27, 2023.
Also, in the statement dated March 28, 2023, the PLP said, “The National Executive of the PLP is in high spirits and is quite optimistic that the upcoming National Executive will fulfil the mandate of the Party to rebuild stronger and better.”