Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has changed his tune on sailors voting against his his party in the November 5th, 2020, general elections.
Prime Minister Gonsalves recently chided the sailors that were brought home earlier this year as Covid-19 ravaged the world, impacting the tourist industry and other sectors.
He said he knew many of them did not vote for his party even after his government had arranged for them to return home.
“I say the cruise ships were the ones who were playing the fool. I say as long ago as April 20th I sent them the legal opinion which I have. I repeat it all the time that we’re the only government that went out of the blocks very early with an early opinion from the Attorney General’s chambers which legal opinion was confirmed and even extended by Caricom.
I was moving from a basis of international law to make sure that things were done properly and to protect everybody.
“And I had to tell them; I say you all are being unreasonable, you know. I say, ‘The opposition, at first, said to keep you all out. I say no; citizenship counts for something I have to bring you home but I have to bring you home in accordance with certain protocols.’ Then they say must open the floodgates. I say, ‘Open the floodgates what? You are a high-risk group, to create a problem? But they blaming me and not the companies. And they are not giving credit for what we have done,” Dr Gonsalves said on November 18th, 2020, while on NBC Radio.
“Prime Minister Gonsalves said a sailor complained that they were only receiving $300 per from the government per month for Covid relief but he asked the sailor to explain how can the government could give him more than $300 when that is given from the Treasury, to an ordinary worker in the hotel or elsewhere who lose their job.
“I say ‘how could you justify getting more than them?’” Dr Gonsalves said he told the sailor.
“He said ‘well, you have a point, I never look at it that way.’ And then he say, ‘Anyway, you should still give us more.’
“He understood but yet I must give. I can’t deal with that kind of illogic. I even had to say to the person, I say, ‘The farmers haven’t gotten their first $500 yet and you have gotten several months of $300. Now, the $300 is not intended as a living wage. But is just to kind of help you.’
“And they form a network across the country, I am telling you this, who opposed me.
“Despite what I did for the sailors, objectively, most of them voted against the ULP. Life really ain’t fair, eh,” Prime Minister Gonsalves said.
The Prime Minister had also stated: “And I will tell you this. It’s one of the things in politics that even when you implement good policy, sensible policy and helpful policy for people, sometimes, they turn around and kick you in the pants. But there it is you can’t do anything other than what you have to do, do it right and proper.
I brought them home and I protected them, their families and the population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
Appearing on NBC last Wednesday 25th November, Prime Minister Gonsalves stated: “I said last week I was here and I spoke about some of the sailors I met who told me that they ain’t voting me. Of course, there are others who, naturally, supported me. I didn’t say all the sailors didn’t support me, ah mean, that they opposed me. I didn’t say that.”
Dr Gonsalves also said: “But what the answer … how that comes out is more in sadness that I say the thing. I say, you know, they really unfair me for all that I did, objectively speaking … what we had done. And I had to explain again what we did to support the sailors. And I have no ill-feelings towards them. In fact, on an ongoing basis, I’m seeking to find jobs for sailors.”
Dr Gonsalves said that he was in contact with two sailors via telephone about matters that morning and he had done so the previous day and will continue to do so.
He said that because he spoke with some sailors doesn’t mean that he “can’t make an analysis.”
“Does that mean that I know for sure that when John Browne tell me he ain’t supporting me that he actually goes to the polls at all, or when he went after I’d spoken to him that he reflected and had a change of heart and voted for me instead
“But I was explaining the reason which they gave. Ah mean it is so elementary. It becomes now something more sinister, that I want to drive fear into their heart. After all, according to the thesis – the opposition thesis – fear stalks the land.
“And the greatest man driving fear into the hearts of people,” Dr Gonsalves said.