“But we took that caution too far and have become partly imprisoned by it.” – Dr. Hinds
By: Kiana Wilburg
When the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) joined forces with the coalition party, it made a conscious decision that it would temper its public criticism of government’s actions. It opted to do its criticism in private.
According to WPA Executive Member, Dr. David Hinds, the decision to do so was based on several reasons. However, this crucial choice did not come without its own political consequences.
Has the party benefitted from its decision to be so guarded in its commentary? Or has it become imprisoned by its caution?
Has the WPA been able to voice its concerns in the Government?
More significantly, is the WPA given a voice at the table when it comes to policy making?
These very questions were addressed by Hinds in his recent writings.
The University Professor opined that the WPA’s criticisms of the Government in the public sphere have been placed on a leash in the interest of the “collective.”
The political activist argued that one of the difficulties still facing the individual parties within the APNU+AFC partnership is the ability to balance being in government while maintaining independence.
Dr. Hinds said that none of the parties in the Coalition has worked out how to do that balancing act.
“Some may even question whether it is possible to balance those two things. It should be noted that the WPA is not the only party in the Coalition that does not speak out on government action; the PNC and the AFC are also silent. This suggests that the problem is much bigger than we think,” expressed the WPA Executive Member.
He added, “It can also be argued that the PNC does not have to do the balancing act since they are the ones controlling the government. I differ with that view. Some PNC members feel that the party is marginalized in the government; that it is the ex-soldier faction that is really in charge.”
Contrary to the views in some quarters, Dr. Hinds opined that the WPA has not lost its independence or its conviction. As a collective, he said that members disagree strongly with some of the government’s actions.
The University Professor said that although his critiques are done in his own name and not the party’s, most of the time his views are reflective of a majority within the WPA family.
“When the government changed, the WPA’s leadership decided to deliberately take a cautious approach towards public criticism of the government. We decided to remain quiet so as not to appear to be undermining the government.”
The political activist that that there are four major considerations that informed WPA’s caution, when it comes to publicly critiquing the government.
Firstly, the WPA Executive Member said that the party has taken into consideration that partnership government in Guyana is a new phenomenon that requires each partner to resist against the temptation to impose its views on the partnership.
Secondly, Dr. Hinds said that the party is committed to making the government work and not to undermine it. In this regard, he said that the party’s primary concern is not to poison relations with its partners.
Thirdly, the political activist said that given WPA’s history of radical critique of government and politics, most within the party structure are sensitive to the criticisms that “we cannot be trusted to hold things together.”
Lastly, the University Professor said that the WPA feels strongly that as a party they should avoid doing anything to give comfort to the PPP and aid its stated objective of undermining and derailing the government.
“In a sense, the WPA muted its critical voice in the public sphere in the interest of the collective. In my view we took that cautiousness too far and have become partly imprisoned by it.”
The WPA Executive Member said that it was the party’s hope that it would air its concerns internally, but opportunities to do so have been scarce.
He said that the organs of the APNU meet infrequently and so far as the WPA knows, the partners of the Coalition do not meet outside of Cabinet.
“The WPA has one voice and one vote in Cabinet. In other words, our party has very little or no voice in policy making. For example, as a party we were not consulted on the recent decision on the wage offer to public servants. I am arguing that we got precious little for erring on the side of cautiousness.”
The WPA Executive Member said that there is currently a raging debate inside the WPA family on the party’s silence on government action.
He said, too, that there is a majority view that the party is hurting itself by not asserting its independence both inside and outside of government.
“Many of our comrades feel very strongly that as a party, we have not done a good job at balancing our independence by upholding our traditional values with our commitment to making the Coalition work.”
Dr. Hinds emphasized however that the party’s survival as a credible political influence is premised on striking that balance—the sooner the better.
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