By Claudius J. Francis
In part one, I explained historical factors, briefly established the fundamentals that differentiate “not just leadership but good leadership” in addition to what our political leader Phillip J. Pierre personifies, but widely recognised that he “also believes in reaching out and widening the tent.”
A good leader should be himself and not whom others want him to be. Too often we see how people have changed once they are surrounded by the trappings of power. So, caught-up are they in this new-found power they instantly forget it is who they were which got them elected.
Instead, they attempt to be this new person. The previous limes on the block are no more. The usual domino-game is now too much. The lunch by the roadside restaurant is replaced with hotel engagements and the constituency office day is a thing of the past. Good leaders don’t behave that way and your leader, our leader Philip J. Pierre, has never displayed such tendencies. He is the same today as when you elected him 22 years ago. In and out of government his constituency office has never been shut and has always remained open to those he serves.
A good leader must be flexible. He must have the capacity to recognize that even a well-organized strategy can be upended by things beyond his control. A minister may have been allocated, say $20 million and suddenly a hurricane hits; and what was previously a fine allocation is in a twinkling of an eye, rendered inadequate to deal with the new reality. A good leader, a real leader, knows what to do. When the Christmas Eve trough affected our country, you saw real leadership at work. You saw Pierre responded, as no minister of infrastructure before him could do.
And remember earlier [Part 1], I said that good leaders must be able to look around the corner and prepare for what may happen. Well, Pierre had done that and for the first time in our country’s history, Bailey bridges were replaced within days because he had the foresight to have had Bailey bridges in storage.
For the first time, our country’s transportation system was not ground to a halt following a weather system. That, comrades, is quality leadership.
A good leader must never put leadership ahead of what it really is. We tend to think that leaders are these supermen and women from somewhere else when in fact they came from within us. A good leader does not stand as superior to those he leads. Instead, he makes each follower understand that he or she is himself or herself a potential leader.
A good leader does not insult those who have chosen him. He must instead be at various times the chief mourner, the chief celebrant, the chief servant, and the chief worker. He is not simply one who dishes out commands but rather the one who is also prepared to put his hands to the wheel.
A good leader must always appreciate that there is no short cut to success. He must always be willing to explain the hard choices we sometimes have to face. He must not misrepresent the reality. Good leaders know fooling the people works only for a while and does not last.
What I have thus far spoken about covers but a small area of what is required of a good leader. But there are some attributes which are not located in any leadership manual but are instead instinctive. Each leader must appreciate they are unique. Only in the Monarchy and the Catholic Church would you find John the First or Paul the Second.
In politics, more so than most other professions, no two leaders are alike. A good leader knows how to marry past successes with his own dreams for the future. A good leader knows that even as he seeks to blaze his own path that there are roads already trod which will help him succeed. He must know when to persevere and when to let go.
In Pierre, we in [The Saint Lucia Labour Party, (SLP)] have a leader who has earned his spurs. And at this point let me address a particular issue head-on.
There are many, inside and outside, who believe Pierre is an accidental leader, one who is in place only because our Constitution, caused it to happen. I respond to that disparaging comment.
I readily confess that I am not a believer of the view that the person next in line automatically acquires the throne. Only the Monarchy does that. I believe instead that the best inline acquires the mantle. So, my theory is the best inline and not the next in line should be leader. On this note, history shows that Philip J. Pierre is the first modern leader of any political party in Saint Lucia who, as deputy, succeeded the leader.
Now, lest anyone misunderstands me and; that is very common in Saint Lucia, I am by no means suggesting that hierarchical succession should not be followed. No. I am not saying that. What I am saying is that hierarchical succession should proceed only if that presumed successor is the best person available.
Kenny Anthony knew perhaps better than most, what our Party’s Constitution mandates. He knew full well that demitting office would result in Pierre assuming the leadership position, at least until the next annual conference of delegates. Anthony knew the next conference was mere months away; he knew as well that with such a short period to go he could have held on and allow a new leader to emerge at the said conference of delegates.
He decided against that course of action not simply because he wished to exit or that he felt he could no longer carry on. No. The Anthony I know did it then because he knew that in Pierre, the SLP had someone who was suitably equipped to take the Party to the next level. Anthony knew of Pierre’s competence, which was displayed on several occasions – leading the country in his absence.
Anthony knew of Pierre assuredness. He knew that Pierre had been there during the good and bad; and that whatever the situation which had confronted him, Pierre had come through. He knew Pierre was an honest man, a trustworthy person and a leader whom others could count on.
So, it was because Anthony knew of Pierre capabilities and attributes that he felt comfortable – resigned as Party leader – knowing the SLP would be in good hands.
So put to rest comrades, the nonsense propagated by those who wish to divide us that Anthony does not trust Pierre. It is because he does – that he, so quickly gave way. In turn, Pierre has proved he was the best successor. That is why we the delegates have re-elected him on three separate occasions since then.
Which brings me to another falsehood being propagated by the government and its agents. They say, our constitution does not allow for other aspirants to the SLP leadership, in order to challenge Pierre. Nothing could be further from the truth as the Constitution places the SLP leader under scrutiny at every annual conference of delegates via a vote of confidence.
And, as the Caribbean Court of Justice recently ruled in the Guyana case, there really is no difference between a vote of confidence and a vote of no confidence. They are both means to the same end.
[The result of the confidence vote at the closed session of the SLP annual conference at Fond St Jacques, Soufriere, October 21, 2018, registered 273 for Philip J. Pierre; 3 against. In 2017, the results were 200 for Pierre and 13 against.]
On each occasion which Pierre’s leadership has been placed under scrutiny, he has prevailed magnificently. And he has prevailed because we the delegates have placed our confidence in his ability to lead us to victory at the next elections, whenever it is called.
Pierre has been there, and he has earned the right to be our leader.
His detractors mock him as a ‘stammerer’ – but that is only because they cannot finger him as a crook. His critics say he is not leadership material but that is only because they cannot say he raided the ministry’s coffers for his personal benefit. They say he is weak only because they fear that being the strong person that he is, once in office he would ensure their corruption does not go unrewarded.
At the SLP annual conference, October 14, 2018, Philip J. Pierre said;
“I am motivated with a deep sense of duty to country by the words of the philosopher Plato: “the price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men”.
“I am no showman, nor am I an actor, my detractors say I stammer but I rather stammer the truth than be speaking lies eloquently”
“This is who I am, Philip J. Pierre is about leading a country where every citizen has a reasonable chance of reaching his or her potential;
- Where citizens begin to respect each other for who they are not what they have;
- Where quality health care is available to those who need it, not just those who can afford it;
- Where transparency and accountability in public affairs are encouraged not discouraged;
- Where collaboration and cooperation are strengths and not impediments to human development;
- Where a quality education is the right of every citizen and not just that of the privilege;
- Where corruption in government is unacceptable and treated as a scourge on the people;
- Where our people feel no sense of alienation in their country; and where opportunity is based on meritocracy, not privileged connections.
“This is the country I desire and this the country I intend to lead,” Pierre said.
The camouflage of his detractors and the splinter of his critics say he cannot lead Labour to victory is only because, they know, with him at the helm we are well on the way to defeating them. They cannot challenge his integrity because in every position he has served, whether at the government or party level, he has left that position better off than when he inherited it. They know that unlike their own, Pierre leads a group of men and women, superior too – and more capable than their own, waiting to govern.
And they tell you he is not fit to lead only because they fear what is about to happen at the next election. They fear that Pierre will emerge as Saint Lucia’s 12th prime minister whenever the next elections are held.
So, comrades understand this well.
Our detractors will do whatever they can to ensure seeds of confusion are sown within the Labour camp; and do not delude yourselves that the detractors are only outside of our midst, for there are those within who will denigrate Pierre for their own selfish reasons. They will seek all manner of reasons to create doubt in your minds that he is not the best person to lead the party, especially into elections. Though they will provide not a single shred of evidence in support. They will tell you that Alva Baptiste, Shawn Edward, Ernest Hilaire, and Kenny Anthony are the real leaders and that Pierre is a mere pawn.
Comrades, we are gathered here [Sunday, July 28, 2019] to rebuke this notion and to say clearly, loudly and boldly, that the SLP has one leader and one leader only.
A leader that we stand head and shoulders with and a leader we stand solidly behind. Let the word go forth, therefore, that Philip J. Pierre is the undisputed leader of our great party, the Saint Lucia Labour Party.
And that, not only will he lead us into the next general elections but that; with all their money, with all their resources, with all of their Cambridge Analytica, We the people, will elect the Saint Lucia Labour Party as the best choice of government and Philip J. Pierre as the next prime minister of Saint Lucia.
Related – The leader you can trust – Part 1