The New Today

Commentary

A suggestion for consideration

NDC’s national executive and campaign management should encourage and give full support to constituencies in organising localised Mother’s Day events for older mothers and grandmothers over the Mother’s Day weekend.

Constituencies should be given latitude to come up with the type of activity, which can include luncheon, day trip etc, that they may wish to have on that day or over the weekend.

This will give candidates an opportunity to interact and engage older voters in a relaxed setting and create some energy and an opportunity for soft campaigning over what would be considered an off weekend because of Mother’s Day.

There are a few layers that should be juxtaposed on top of the structural advantages of the incumbent, created by the system of political patronage and clientelism to highlight the herculean challenge the opposition NDC has to overcome, if it is to be successful in the upcoming elections.

The alleged special flights of supporters from the diaspora is one of those layers that provides an additional advantage to the incumbent.

The NDC strategists and planners ought to take account of this and realise that in light of the limited time before a possible election, the only recourse available is to pursue a high energy feel campaign that focuses on current burning issues that confronts the people.

Therefore, the decision to focus on pension and other labour issues in the first Wednesday night media event is a prudent one, since that’s the burning issue of the day.

The campaign management team should consider inflation and high prices of food as the topic for the second Wednesday media event. Agriculture and the other sectoral discussions can follow.

The NDC can’t be oblivious to emerging issues within the fast changing political landscape; rather it must be agile and respond to those circumstances.

Global supply chain problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have resulted in inflation and high food prices which are now made worse by the war in Ukraine. The World Bank warned the conflict in Europe has already caused the worst spike in commodity prices in fifty years.

A series of surveys administered by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in partnership with the United Nations World Food Program, WFP, have revealed that the English-speaking Caribbean food insecurity has increased by 72% since the onset of the pandemic.

Inflation and high food prices will continue to negatively affect Grenada for the foreseeable future.

NDC can’t turn a blind eye to this harsh reality and must demonstrate it is prepared to take game changing and bold decisive actions to safeguard Grenadians livelihoods and ensure food security in the first one hundred days of getting into office.

This will undercut the NNP’s further empowerment agenda which is another election gimmick designed to extend the current system of political patronage under the mantra, ‘keep them poor they will love you more’.

The strategic planning team of the NDC needs to understand that by placing pensions and rising food prices high on the party’s one hundred days agenda it is demonstrating to the electorate that an NDC government will be responsive to the immediate problems that are affecting the people.

It will also allow the party to segue the discussion to agriculture and poverty in a seamless manner because of the inter-relatedness of these issues.

The NDC planners have to be nimble and coalesce the pension issue and rising food prices with sectoral issues in agriculture, health, physical infrastructure, social development, youth development and the environment into one political platform to garner mass support from the public.

The party must also have an agile posture to be able to respond to emerging issues in a timely manner to avoid being seen as stone deaf.

The political strategists and planners of the NDC have to constantly monitor the speeches and utterances of the incumbent leader, roll out of the NNP’s policy agenda such as the further empowerment initiative and other statement to critically dissect them to directly confront the narrative of the ruling incumbent and present counter narratives to undercut that of the ruling party and convince the electorate the NDC’s initiatives are better.

The NDC planners need to be more political in their thinking rather than acting like an incumbent government appearing to be policy wonks. Where are the trolls and commentators who can propagandise and appeal to certain components of the undecided?

Kem Jones speaks to a narrow base of the party, however there is a need for commentators who can effectively appeal to certain segments of the undecideds in much the same way William Joseph and his weekly podcast is doing and others to operate along the lines of conservative talk radio hosts like the late Rush Limbaugh, or what Clay Travis, Buck Sexton and Sean Hannity are currently doing in America.

Like it or not, there is a segment of the undecideds and swing voters in Grenada who can be reached by that aspect of messaging, who like to be served that type of ‘political red meat’ so to speak. This is where the real politik incumbent leader thrives on the eve of an election and get swing voters to go his way.

Related:  NDC must expand its base to beat NNP

For too long the middle class influencers in NDC and the timid politics of Nazim Burke have given the incumbent NNP full latitude in that area as they use propaganda to sway swing voters and undecideds to support them.

Have you forgotten ‘Nazim building two houses in Lance Aux Pines’ or ‘we have found oil and gas’ and the list goes on?

The NDC must not allow this aspect of messaging and real politicking to go uncontested this time around, the incumbent leader must not be allowed to have his way again. They are already trying to attack young Dickon.

When one looks at the candidate matchups and results of past elections down to the polling divisions the task for the NDC seems insurmountable. However, if the NDC engages in real politik there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Listening to Tessa St Cyr and Gloria Thomas, there is a sense that NDC has by and large cast a credible slate – what is now needed is a supporting cast of realpolitik, strategists, writers, planners and organisers to sufficiently lift the energy and tempo of the campaign that would create a tsunami like effect to overwhelm the firewall of support for the incumbent NNP.

All of the candidates need constant support, to further improve effectiveness in canvassing and voter registration from the party’s central management team.

In the particular case of St. George’s North East, Nazim Burke needs to be more genuine and give Ron Redhead his full endorsement by getting his supporters in the constituency group to work with him.

He must walk through the constituency with Ron in much the same way he got the then ailing and almost blind George Brizan to do when he wanted to win the constituency.

Similarly, Phillip Alexander must give Gloria Thomas his fullest support and campaign for her in much the same manner he did for Alleyne Walker in previous elections.

Likewise Adrian ‘Persuader’ Thomas should do the same for Dickon Mitchell. Members of NDC must demonstrate genuine unity, loyalty and solidarity if the party is to galvanise broad-based support in the upcoming elections.

In spite of the seemingly insurmountable challenge to overcome the structural advantages of the NNP, if NDC strategists and planners engage in realpolitik and propose electioneering initiatives that would raise the tempo of the campaign, position the party to champion the burning issues of the day, intensify the organisational work on the ground and improve on messaging it will create the sufficient jolt of energy required to cause a tsunami like effect that will overwhelm the ruling party’s firewall of support.

The opposition NDC must not cede any ground to the NNP. Instead of doing so it must vigorously contest for coverage in the Monday night prime time news by holding large junction meetings on Sundays until the election is called when massive rallies can be held.

There ought to be an immediate intensification of pocket meetings in polling divisions across the island and touch down activities on Saturday evenings as canvassing and registration of voters are stepped up.

NDC must not be found flatfooted in setting up the Election Day get out the vote machinery this time around. Candidates and their campaign teams must start to hire buses now to transport supporters to meetings and take those who are unable to get to the polls on their own volition.

This will preempt any attempt by the other side to hire out most of the buses and prevent NDC from having sufficient transport to get supporters to its rallies.

Polling agents and other Election Day workers should be identified now and properly trained to carry out their functions. The NDC must get it right to overcome the challenges in the upcoming elections.

The virtual Town Hall initiative has to be seen as a critical element of the party’s messaging strategy and an opportunity to create a contrast between the young political leader and the incumbent leader, and must be further enhanced with every future Town hall.

Creation and distribution of emotional messaging on various social media platforms, increase in the number of commentators to amplify and expand the views of the party on talk radio, and the use of internet trolls to post messages tailored to particular segments of undecideds, those who have not voted in previous election cycles and swing voters should also be key features of the messaging strategy.

The NDC hierarchy must accept the party can’t continue with the timid, sanitise approach to politics if it wants to unseat the NNP for the task to overcome the structural advantages of the ruling party is enormous. They must understand it is not the size of the dog in the fight it is the size of the fight in the dog that matters.

NDC must demonstrate it has a great fight that would generate that jolt of energy to create the tsunami like effect to overwhelm the NNP firewall of support.

Special Correspondent