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Monday, March 29, 2004

The Spoils of Defeat


Dr. Lester CN Simon

I try hard to understand the 16,000 and odd people who voted for the ALP. I try to understand them because they say a lot about who we are. Unravelling this Birdie mystery is a prerequisite for rebuilding the nation. How do I reason with the fanatical ALP supporters who proclaim that they were born Labour and they would die Labour? I simply say to them that under Labour, the midwife and the mortician are equal. But then, they cannot even appreciate a good joke.

I listen to them. I engage them. I finally convince them that they are wrong and that the UPP is the right way forward. Then they hit me for six with the comment that, “All government tief”. In other words, they will stay with the thief they know rather than take a chance with another (unproven) thief. Somebody done tear out these people heart, dash it on the ground and watch big bus, tractor and flatbed truck run over it, in the presence of pompous policemen.

How do you convert these people? How do you remove their unbearable ‘lightness of being’? I was taken up with the parallel between the religious aspects of the UPP campaign and the need to convert the Birdie, politically. I thought the UPP failed to exploit the link between the Bishop and the Serpent on the one hand, and the need to politically convert the ALP maniacs, on the other. I thought that promoting the reassuring, all-inclusive notion of “room under the tent” was not enough.

I felt that the key effect of the message from the Bishop was not just to believe in God. This belief or disbelief requires conversion. The principles of conversion used by the Bishop are universal. They too, can be used by Serpent to pull you into radio land via the snake pit. They can also be used by marketing experts. Indeed, they were used by the UPP. My concern was whether the UPP had done enough to market itself to the most vulnerable of the 16,000 maniacs?

The ALP tried marketing too. In many cases, they not only sold the ALP, they bought all the goods in the tray, the tray itself, and the poor old woman higgler too, including the stool she sits on and the ground there under. This is precisely what they mean when they say they were born Labour and they would die Labour. They are referring to slavery. Born in it, die in it, and proud of it! Marketing for the ALP means buying the entire market, lock stock and barrel. No wonder the dollar-barrel got to them so.

A wise friend (Dorbrene O’Mard) suggested that the UPP could not have run the risk of marketing itself to the 16,000 ALP maniacs. He said that in doing so the UPP would have alienated its own supporters. He is right. After all, you have to choose your customer. Even the ALP and prostitutes know this.

So what do we do with the 16,000 maniacs? I really thought it would be a good idea for the UPP government to feed the “dogs” first. Turn a “Rose” into a bouquet, for example. But like Little Bo-Peep, we must leave them alone, and they'll come home, wagging their tails behind them. You have to want to be converted, to be loved. You have to walk in freely and lay down your own, old burden under the big tent, the big national tent. Only then can we truly say, “Yes! Yes! Yes! We Have Them. We Have Them. The People Have Them.”