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Home Editorial The party above all

The party above all

There are people, like historians and archaeologists, who work in the present but deal with the past. Then there are people, like ourselves, who work in the present but try to look into the future. It is a risky thing to try to figure out what will happen in the future. Only God knows the future. For us humans, there are no guarantees. But if you do a good job of analysis and observation, you can develop skills in prognosis.

Because we are people at Amandala whose business product depends, to a certain extent, on giving our readers a good idea of what will happen before it does, we seldom peruse old issues. We are always looking ahead to the next issue. Sometimes, however, we find old issues lying around. We were struck a few weeks ago when we happened to run into Amandala no. 1738, a Tuesday issue published on Wednesday, January 29, 2003, 36 days before the general elections of March 5, 2003.

We found our political analysis in that issue?s editorial to be absolutely correct, and we found our ?read? of what would happen in the next five weeks to be bull?s eye on target.

As a result of our analysis/prognosis record in the past, we are confident in our abilities. On Tuesday of this week, we wrote an editorial suggesting that support for the UDP demonstration this Saturday would be damaged by the disloyalty shown to public officers and teachers last year by Hon. Michael Finnegan, UDP Mesopotamia area representative.

Instead of having the honourable Mesopotamia gentleman explain and apologize to the public officers and teachers, the UDP decided to have Senator Ambrose Tillett attack this newspaper and its editorial Tuesday night on the Kremandala Show, where the Senator sits as an invited guest. Senator Tillett?s attack which, predictably, was reproduced in Thursday morning?s GUARDIAN, accused this newspaper of having a ?personal vendetta against the UDP??

Senator Ambrose Tillett is a young, brilliant, and sincere Belizean who suffers from a lack of political experience. We appreciate how important a part of UDP strategy it is to have Saturday?s demonstration classified as a people?s march instead of a UDP demonstration. The UDP, however, has a record of arrogance where believing their own propaganda is concerned. We respect Senator Tillett?s having sought to come to his party?s defence on Tuesday night. This is party loyalty. If you are serious about politics, party loyalty is the only way to go. In the modern political era in Belize, no politician who was not on the slate of a major political party has ever won a seat in the House of Representatives.

Let us now contribute to Senator Tillett?s political education. When party politics began in Belize, there were two major political parties ? the People?s United Party (PUP) and the National Party (NP). The PUP at its birth in 1950 was an urban, trade union-based organization. Almost all manual workers ? BEC, forestry, waterfront, etc. supported the PUP. The National Party was a pro-British party, which included landowners, professionals and senior civil servants.

When the PUP divided in 1956, it became more of a rural, peasant party, but the PUP retained most of its urban, manual worker support. The breakaway Honduran Independence Party (HIP), led by Leigh Richardson and Philip Goldson, the PUP leaders who had been forced out of the PUP, went into an alliance with the National Party in 1957/58, and this new National Independence Party (NIP) would derive the bulk of its support in the 1960?s from clerical workers in the Public Service Union.

In 1973, a new United Democratic Party (UDP) took over from the NIP, which then became a part of the UDP, and this new UDP incorporated wealthy merchants who wished to fight a PUP they believed was encouraging communism or socialism.

Trade unions are no longer as important in the politics of Belize as they used to be. In fact, all over the world, the labour movement has lost ground. The fall of communism in the late 1980?s gave almost unconditional victory to capital over labour. Then began the era of free trade, globalization, privatization, and so on, which have made rich nations become more wealthy and poor nations become more indigent. Though less important today, trade unions are, nevertheless, still a factor in Belizean politics.

As the UDP-organized people prepare to march on Saturday, their support would have been more robust from public officers and teachers if the UDP had gone all out on their behalf when the Public Service Union (PSU) and the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) dared to advance on Belmopan last year.

In attacking this newspaper this week, the UDP leadership is behaving predictably ? it?s a case of the party above all. Across the Haulover Creek, the PUP is doing the same thing ? party above all. The PUP has decided to behave as if the protest by the Group of 7 between Thursday, August 12, and Wednesday, August 18, never happened. Ralph Fonseca is acting as if he is still in charge of Belize?s finances, and Wednesday?s Channel 5 television interview with Mr. Fonseca took place at the Central Bank with Central Bank governors from the Caribbean as a credibility-enhancing backdrop.

We think that, whatever its name, Saturday?s demonstration will be energetic and impressive. The PUP will not be frightened, but they will become concerned. Saturday?s demonstration will be so successful that, we are willing to wager, the UDP will claim credit for it after the fact.

We close with another history lesson for Senator Ambrose. When did a political party run a general election in Belize without a named leader? Ask your UDP elders. As soon as the political party did well, the leader was immediately named. Presto!

Ambrose, we been there and we done that. For sure.

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