PM Douglas Labour took the people from the cane-fields to Government House and Government Headquarters

Political Leader of the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party, Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas.
(Left to right) – Party Chairman, Senior Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris; Mrs. Eugenie Condor; Deputy Political Leader, Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Sam Condor; Political Leader, Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas.

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, FEBRUARY 28TH 2012 (CUOPM) – Political Leader of the governing St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP), Prime Minister the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas has been reflecting on the role played in the social, political and economic development of the twin-island Federation and the Caribbean.

In brief remarks at a Service of thanksgiving on Sunday at the St. Peter’s Anglican Church to mark the Labour Party’s 80th Anniversary, Prime Minister Douglas captured the Grace, the Mercy, and the Providence that took the people from the scattered isolation of the cane-fields to the centrality of Government House today, from the fragility of existence at that time, to the responsibilities of Government Headquarters and from the exploitation of life back then, to the peace and freedoms of today.

“Be still. What better words to explain the least powerful, least well educated, least connected people of this society – 80 years ago – nonetheless moving bravely and resolutely forward, despite the obstacles, despite the barriers, despite the resistance, ever upward, ever onward, to the place of justice and opportunity that is now this, our very own nation, today.

“Be still. And know, What better words Comrades, to explain the eventual impact of those of us – eighty years ago – who were intellectually strong, who did possess special powers of persuasion, who did possess a flair for bargaining and negotiation, who did have some measure of comfort and security in the society at that time, but who used these skills, not for their own advancement, not for their own aggrandizement, but to stand with, to walk with, to lift up, and to speak for those whom the powerful had left behind. What a seemingly impossible task our Founding Fathers and Fore Fathers are set for themselves back then,” Prime Minister Douglas to the packed congregation of Cabinet Ministers, the leadership and the rank and file of the Labour Party.

Saying there is indeed a great deal for which to be thankful, Prime Minister Douglas, who has been political leader since 1989, singled out the vision of past and present leadership to elevate the personal well-being of the ordinary people of St. Kitts and Nevis.

“Let us give thanks that we on these two islands were blessed, from the start, with leaders possessed of a unique and special vision. Everyone in this Church knows that it was here, in St. Kitts and Nevis, that the trades and labour movement, that was to sweep the entire Caribbean first established itself as a real force. Did we know that? That speaks to the caliber and distinction of the men who founded the St.Kitts-Nevis Labour Party. For it was these trades and labour movements that gave that impetus to Labour parties Caribbean-wide. And it was, then, these parties that started us – all throughout the region – on our self-affirming marches to independence,” said Prime Minister Douglas

Prime Minister Douglas and Members of the Cabinet and Party Leadership.
The Labour Choir with Hon. Marcella Liburd.

“And so this evening I say we do, indeed, give thanks. And in giving thanks for those who founded our Party, we are reminded of the solid rock on which the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party stands. We are reminded of the far-reaching impact of their contributions on our entire nation – and in the process, of the uniqueness of our foundation.

We all know that the leaders of our Party were the first in the Caribbean to push for, fight for, demand, and win the right for every child on St. Kitts and Nevis to have the right to a high school education. Did everyone in this Church know this? And did everyone know that even as in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, Kittitian and Nevisian children, from every walk of life, were walking into this country’s high schools, there were children right here in this region who still did not have that right? Indeed, do we know that today, in 2012, there are countries, all around the world and in the Caribbean region still, in which the right to a high school education is still not yet a reality,” asked Dr. Douglas, adding:

“We do, indeed, have a great deal to be thankful for. Thankful to the Labour Party of 80 years for. And we give thanks that Divine Providence blessed our St. Kitts and Nevis with the vision, the determination, and the unquestioned impact of men like Joseph Matthew Sebastian, Thomas Manchester, Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw, C. A. Paul Southwell, Joseph Nathaniel France, Lee Llewellyn Moore – and all those founders, the builders, and the defenders of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party………..and the visionaries, the engineers, and the shapers of our nation.”

Dr. Douglas, who has been re-elected as Parliamentary Representative for St. Christopher (Newton Ground to Harris) in six consecutive elections, pointed out that when the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party was first established in 1932, “our party was the voice of the poor – and only the poor.”

“Indeed, at that time, St. Kitts and Nevis had almost nothing but the poor people of this country. We were a sea of incredible poverty, topped by scattered life-crafts of great wealth. And Labour, from Day One, set out to improve life for the poor and the children of the poor, in ways that they could never have imagined. It was our Party that worked to secure better wages for sugar workers, working side by side with the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Union.

As I have said, it was our Party that, despite heated local opposition, opened our high school to all children, permitting families, for the first time, to escape the crushing grip of poverty, to have expanded opportunities, respectability and upward social mobility.”

The Voices of Gospel Choir.
Labour Party Leader and Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas and other Labour Leaders are escorted during the Recessional.

Prime Minister Douglas, who has also led his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party to four consecutive victories in national elections in 1995, 2000, 2004 and 2010, noted that the wider world began to change.

“And so, we moved to also provide university loans and scholarships, so that the children and grandchildren of the once locked-out would continue, at an even higher level, to stretch, to compete, and to soar. Real world training in fields as diverse as Information Technology and agriculture, tourism and beyond, have enhanced opportunities for all, and made possible the escape of thousands from the humiliation and poverty of yesteryear,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

The Service began with the singing of the National Anthem, followed by the Opening Prayer by Rev. Father Canon Isaiah Phillip.

Deputy Party Leader, Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Sam Condor welcomed the congregation. The First Scripture was read by Shirley Williams and the Second Scripture by Party Chairman and Senior Minister, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris.

There were also a solo by Jewel Wattley, a dance by Kristal McLean, a poem by Sherlita Dore-Tyson, a rendition by the Labour Choir, the Voices of Praise Gospel Choir; congratulatory remarks from the President of the St. Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union and the reading of Fraternal Greetings by Assistant National Secretary, Ms, Ghislyn Williams.

The sermon was delivered by Cannon Phillip.

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