HONOURABLE ROOSEVELT SKERRIT
POLITICAL LEADER OF
THE DOMINICA LABOUR PARTY
On the Occasion of its 2012 Awards Ceremony
Sunday September 16th, 2012
Comrades, Ladies and Gentlemen...while I was asked to deliver general remarks at this very colourful and prestigious ceremony this evening, I believe an expression of thanks and appreciation is more in order for the dozens of persons we salute today, as having contributed to the continued growth and performance of our historic Dominica Labour Party.
Very often leaders and those in positions of high visibility and influence are credited for the overall rating of a political party that is doing commendably. On occasion, the policies that the party pursues or the manner in which it handled a crisis is celebrated and traced back to the ultimate decision maker...but, what is often not recognised, is the fact that it is from forums such as these, and frequent interactions with members and well wishers, that many policy ideas and initiatives are born.
There is the saying that if you wish to save millions of dollars on an Environmental Impact Study, forego high priced professionals and the use of modern technology, and consult a few elders in the village and they will give you a spot-on idea of the true lay of the land. The elderly guys on the street corner can tell you the likelihood of blockage and frequent flooding in the event of a structure being erected on a particular piece of land. They know the water courses better than any piece of equipment can detect. They can also tell you the depth at which you are likely to find solid rock, when building the foundation to your house.
That same principle I have learnt over the years applies to loyal, hard working members and supporters of a political party. They have not had the academic training of political experts, but they can tell you how the political pendulum is swinging at any given time. They can tell you the policies that are likely to resonate with citizens and those that will most likely be frowned upon.
They can tell you which newspaper article will not be taken seriously by readers and which ought to be analysed and responded to.
In other words, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a reservoir as well as a fountain of political wisdom, knowledge and understanding right in this room. Together, we have correctly read every political twist and turn of the last 13 years. Together we remain an unbeatable force in the politics of Dominica!
In your simple and unassuming way, Ladies and Gentlemen, you have served as our barometers over the years. While we are here this evening to salute a specific number of individuals whom we believe have given yeoman service to this party over the years, I want to say from the outset that I value the continued words of wisdom and encouragement that I receive from every single person in this room.
I look forward to your continued telephone calls, text messages, emails, handwritten notes delivered to my home and office, and the messages you relay via relatives and friends. I confess that time sometimes does not permit me to personally contact each of you to express my gratitude....but I want you to know that I appreciate your contributions.
I speak for all of the Parl Reps when I say we truly value your feedback! Even in Cabinet, frequently many of us would be of one opinion and then someone would relay details of a conversation with a Comrade, and the trusted wisdom and knowledge contained therein would change the entire equation and oftentimes lead to a rethink of our own handling of matters.
So this evening I wish, on behalf of my fellow Parl Reps and also on behalf of other executive members of our great party, to say how grateful we are to you, the body of the Labour Party, for keeping us focused and in line. We have passed the half way point in our third term as the governing party of Dominica and as I reflect on this country’s political landscape, I have come to the realisation that the fundamental difference between the two major parties is the so-called base of each.
Many of you have been around for decades. You endured countless years of political abandon in the proverbial wilderness, when your party was in opposition. But most of you never flinched...you never drooped your shoulders...you never changed your allegiance.
Like Rosa Parks your feet were weary but your souls were rested....because you believed in what you were doing. You believed in this great Dominica Labour Party. You believed in the philosophical and fundamental difference that we would have made, and you rode out those long, arduous years in opposition.
Unlike these latter day opposition operatives who only know how to tear down and desecrate, you wrapped your every utterance, your every argument, your every political submission in homes, shops, churches and places of work, in what was best for Dominica...in what could or should have been done to benefit the mass of people in this country. Your days in opposition were spent constructively analysing the state of play in the country.
That’s why over time you built credibility....you earned respect and ultimately you garnered support for the Dominica Labour Party.
I am not in the business of advising my opponents, but I would say to them this evening that if they want to move from neutral and into drive, they should consider the ways of ordinary members of the Dominica Labour Party and be wise.
So Comrades, we are assembled this evening to salute and celebrate the work of many in our various communities who selflessly continue to fly the flag of the Dominica Labour Party in every sphere of social and cultural activity in this country.
The work of those honoured this evening has propelled the Labour Party to the enviable position of being deemed the 'natural party of choice' in Dominica. You have done this party good! Many of you have survived many Parl Reps. You have seen them come and witnessed them go...but you are the ones, like the Rock of Gibraltar, who remain. You personify Labour in your respective communities.
Today, Labour has become synonymous with leadership in many villages across Dominica. Not only have you championed the cause of this great party, but you have served with distinction in several social, sporting, educational and recreational groupings.
Even in the dark days of our being in opposition, you were on the village councils, the church committees, the friendly societies, the cricket, football and other sporting organisations. You have been leaders....respected and able leaders....and that has been the secret to the success of the Labour Party over the years.
It must now therefore become an inspiration and a challenge to newer members to assume positions of influence and leadership in your respective communities. People must know who they can turn to for guidance, advice, support...sometimes, just a listening ear.
In the year 2012, we must re-invent ourselves as a political party. We cannot be there to attend only to the political and material needs of neighbours, we have to go further and represent their image of hope, strength and reassurance.
People must know who the Labourites are in a Community and by extension, to whom they can turn in virtually any crisis situation. That is what must distinguish us from the others. We have to strive to be seen in our respective communities as caring and loving people.
Let the other side continue to bemoan and tear down....our mission as a party has to be to positively impact the lives of individuals. When the hour of decision making arrives, they will remember, not all that we did, and even less of what we said....but they shall always be mindful of how we made them feel.
I want you to wear your membership of this party as a badge of honour. Let the whole world know that you are a Labour Party member and supporter.
But, don't be selfish with it. There is room under the tent for thousands more. Let us invite them to fellowship with us. Invite them to your meetings so they can get to know and understand how we function as a labour party; how decisions are made and how involved and influential ordinary members are.
So this evening, Ladies and Gentlemen, we salute our 2012 awardees. Running through the names earlier, I was amazed how many of them I know personally. I can attest to their commitment and selfless approach to the work of this party. They are out there toiling in the vineyard at night and in the day. They take their politics very seriously....and so should all of us.
Labour winning the next elections is not only about us remaining in office, it is about our preserving the strides and the progress we have made. We have to save this country from those who have no plan to take it forward.
Unlike most other countries around the region and the world, there is no other political party in Dominica actively trying to ready itself for leadership. The two that are here in Dominica are fighting to see which can be more menacing; which can claim the most political scalps; which can fabricate the most lies and propaganda.
Labour is the only party that is "Y2K-and-12" ready and compliant! That is why we need soldiers, with the commitment and zeal of those being honoured today, to step up to the plate and assume posts and positions of leadership and responsibility in this organisation.
We have a duty to our successors to bequeath to them a healthy and vibrant organisation. We have to infuse this party with new talent, vision and ideas. We have to infuse it with new money. We need to get cracking on the construction of our headquarters for which I would like to break ground before the next election is called!!
So tonight, Ladies and Gentlemen, I conclude as I began, by congratulating those who have laboured in the service of this great political party. We have achieved what we have because of you. Dominica has been able to progress in the manner that it has, because of you.
I do not want anyone in this room to underestimate his or her contribution to the development of the Dominica that we have today. A few others may tear down this country, but I am proud today, more than ever, to be a citizen of Dominica and to be resident in Dominica at this time. I am not saying things could not be better, but, overall, I know for sure they were and could be much worse. So tonight, I thank almighty God for the Blessings he has bestowed upon us.
Comrades of Labour, together we have aspired! Together, Comrades, we have achieved! It is together, Comrades that we shall continue to succeed!
I thank each and every one of you for your continued commitment to the cause.
May God bless the Dominica Labour Party, and may God bless Dominica and its wonderful people.
I thank you.