Penn, while speaking at a joint Opposition press conference yesterday, said he agreed that Smith’s actions demonstrated a betrayal of the voters and further contended that the evidence of this was made clear from their expressions.
“The voters were betrayed, [because] persons voted on the basis of our [party’s] vision, on the basis of our campaign that we espoused to the voters that, ‘Look, we are running an anti-corruption, anti-maladministration campaign. We are not in any way running to support what has happened to this country over the last four years,’” Penn stated.
The NDP Chairman said the debacle resulted in first-time voters now insisting that they were misled about the NDP vision and promising never to vote again at future general elections.
“We all have our responsibility. We have a civic duty to vote, and those young persons who I know, who’ve expressed to me the sense of betrayal in the way that they feel, [I want to say] that there’s hope. There’s hope on the way forward. Do not allow this to deter you from participating in the democratic process,” Penn urged.
Meanwhile, Penn outrighly dismissed the notion that Smith’s move to the VIP camp was made for the good of the territroy, claiming instead that it was pure self-interest.
The Eighth District Representative argued that his party had an obligation to pursue an alliance with both the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM) and Progressives United (PU), but was robbed of this opportunity when the proverbial rug was pulled from under their feet by Smith’s actions.
“It’s being peddled around that [Smith’s defection] was about for the country, and that the governor would have stepped in. Total falsehood. It’s a lie. It’s not true. It’s not truthful,” Penn said.
He added: “We had, within 12 hours, started our discussions and negotiations. Her decisions were solely [about] self-interest and for power and we focused on doing what is in the best interest of the country and that’s why we are still here standing unified as an opposition.”
Penn said proceedings have started to have Smith excommunicated from the NDP; a party which her husband and former Premier, Dr D Orlando Smith founded more than two decades ago.