The elections campaigning officially begins in 2015, but both the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and the Opposing Virgin Islands Party (VIP) took verbal swipes at each other on their respective radio programs where the term used was “big men’ and “big man” as each side attempted to set the record straight.
During the VIP radio program on 26 November, Opposition Leader and Ninth District Representative, Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal used the term “big men” when he addressed Government’s claims that his administration left the country broke.
Hon. O’Neal said: “I find it childish for big men to be up and down saying the VIP left the country broke. How could we have left the country broke and you’re spending money all the time…It’s foolishness,” Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal said in response to continued claims that his party left the country broke and the National Democratic Party came in and turned the economy around.”
The esteemed statesman said that he would never do such a thing, even though he has experienced situations during his leadership that he could have announced: “I would never tell the people that I take over the government and I meet it broke. I would never do that and I have never done it…because the government, what any government does is you submit estimates, you are not sure you are going to get the amount of money. You are not sure you are going to get it spent and things like that.”
“When the VIP took over the country in 2007, it was in three months time I had to go back to the council to get approval for $21M spent in the general subjects and then $12M on capital programmes, but I didn’t come out and say well the NDP left the country broke; I wouldn’t do that, that is childishness, foolishness.”
Hon. Fraser added to the discussion stating that the announcements made by the Government that the VIP left the country broke is baseless. Hon. Fraser quoted figures to make his point: “We have confirmed that between November 2011 and December 31st 2011, within that seven short weeks, the NDP collected $53M from the Financial Services Commission alone. The NDP was also the beneficiary to another $22M from additional sources during that same time period. In short, the NDP inherited $75M from the outgoing VIP government in 2011.”
During the NDP radio program on 1 December, Minister for Communications and Works, Hon. Mark Vanterpool aired his resentment at Hon. O’Neal’s ‘big men’ comment: “I believe that I have done some big man things in the last three years, so I consider myself a big man for some of the things that we have done as a government.”
Hon. Vanterpool said: “It takes a big man to start a cruise ship dock and build it the way we are building it, that is a big man thing; it takes a big man, not a lil boy to build roads properly, not throw asphalt all over the ground and six months later it washes off, that is a big man thing; it takes a big man to fight and try to complete the sewerage; it takes a big man to take the sewerage running off of Greenland road, that is a big man thing, I ain’t no lil boy…It takes a big man to go up on the Manse Road boss and fix what we look at for years and didn’t fix. It took a big men government to fix it when we got into power; it took a big man to take them tents from off the cruise ship dock, push them down and build a Crafts Alive to take care of them. It takes a big man; that is a big man government boss, that ain’t no lil boy government. Orlando Smith is big man government, I telling you.”
On the other hand, Minister for Education and Culture, Hon. Myron Walwyn disputed the claims that were made by VIP Chairman, Hon. Julian Fraser regarding the $75M that he said Government inherited.
Hon. Walwyn announced: “If somebody is only making reference to $75M that you are getting, or that you are going to receive from Financial Services and other services, inherent in that conversation is that you are admitting that you left nothing in the Consolidated Fund. In fact, you left less than nothing there because you ended up with $42M worth of bills…This is the part of politics I do not like. I am interested in nation building, doing things to move the country forward, being honest with people. If things are not good let’s say it’s not good, so we know where we are…When you get in the way of trying to deliberately mislead people and characterize things, that is where I get a bit disheartened.”