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Dickon Mitchell – Time is not on your side – you and your team must act now

The elections for a new executive for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is now history. Delegates voted young debutant Dickon Mitchell as the political leader.

Other newcomers to the national executive are Tevin Andrews, Chairman, Orlando Romain, Public Relations Officer, and Andrea St. Bernard as Treasurer.

The new executive reflects the recent influx of youthful members to the party and a sprinkling of elements of the old guard, it represents youthful energy and experience, a fresh new beginning.

Notwithstanding the overwhelming positive responses on social media, the Dickon-led executive must hit the ground running to put the party on an election footing while reforming and rebuilding internal structures if it is to be transformed into an effective political organisation.

The political leader should have already met with the new national executive and start to chart the way forward. He must meet with constituency groups, and rank and file members across the island as early as possible to connect with his base.

At the same time, he must surround himself with a competent team of strategists to advise and help him drive the change process, in much the same way that Alastair Campbell, Peter Mandelson, Ed Manning and Jonathon Powell helped Tony Blair to shape the agenda of New Labour in England. Dickon needs to get a team of advisors together as quickly as possible.

In order to improve the functioning of the national executive, he must move to set up an office responsible for managing the day to day operations of the party and providing administrative support to the national executive. Competent paid staff must be hired including an office manager, accounting and communications officers, and other administrative personnel. There should be no delay in setting up the office which should immensely benefit the organisation.

In the first thirty days in office, Dickon needs to set in motion the internal reform process by taking steps to reconstitute and reorganise the non-functioning and cumbersome organs and committees of the party.

With establishment of a fully functioning management office, the current management committee, considered a big talk shop should be morphed into an advisory committee that meets quarterly to review the work of the executive and provide advice.

Another committee that must be reformed is the strategy committee. Currently considered a paper tiger lacking proper focus, its recommendations are not given serious consideration by the executive.

The team of strategists/advisors that should be set up to help the new political leader drive the process can replace the strategy committee which should now be morphed into a unit comprising constituency Chairmen and party strategists including one or two on the political leader’s team of advisors to plan and carry out the political work of the party.

The public relations function ought to be strengthen with the new PRO putting together, in a timely manner, a competent team that would work with him to lift the image and brand of the party in the eyes of the public.

The new political leader does not have the luxury of time and must take immediate steps to make these changes while attempting to sanitise the toxic culture that has permeated the organisation for so long.

He must move to infuse fresh thinking and a new way of doing the party’s business. He must be inclusive in his approach, welcoming of everyone including those who would have stayed away in the past because of the toxic culture and others who courted with the other side and has become disillusioned and frustrated with the current direction.

All must feel welcome under this tent of the masses that is accommodating to a diversity of views and persons in order to change the political discourse as we aspire to build our nation.

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Recognising his humble beginning, Dickon must never forget where he came from and the plight of that circumstance, must move to focus the party’s agenda on populist issues that affect the working class while improving the investment climate to attract foreign capital and for all businesses to thrive and grow.

Dickon must not allow the other side to define him, he must stay true to his roots, be authentic, and resolute in his decisions and actions.

Always being alert to those who would want to discredit and disrupt him even within his own party, as he strives to enact change and pursue progress. He must be wary of the pretenders who would attempt to cloud his judgement to their favour by basing his decisions on the widest possible information available.

This points to the urgent need for a reputable polling company to be hired to conduct national and constituency wide polling, on behalf of the party that would provide scientific information upon which to base his decisions particularly on candidate selection and party’s agenda going forward. Dickon must adopt a paradigm shift in the way NDC functions if he is to be successful.

The press conference to introduce the new national executive signals commencement of that paradigm shift in how the party functions. All speakers spoke eloquently and were very articulate. The political leader was brilliant, he demonstrated composure, control and a command of the issues uncommon for a debutant in politics.

With over thirty thousand views for the victory speech and a similar number for the press conference, the new executive must understand the spotlight is on the party and they must move almost immediately to start enacting that change by considering the suggestions above to streamline and strengthen the operations of the party.

Already, the incumbent leader has shown he will give the executive no honeymoon period by making a swipe at the new political leader in Parliament. The new executive must hit the ground running after this impressive start, the people would want to see early tangible changes.

The incumbent NNP party has quietly started to up the ante by starting capital projects all over the island, expanding the debushing programs and conducting constituency polling. However, there are strong headwinds including the Grenlec deception, rising food prices, increasing levels of poverty and unemployment, and high levels of apathy among the population, in particular towards the ruling party that the new executive can exploit once immediate efforts are made to effect change within the party structures to make it more nimble, able to respond effectively and quickly.

The NDC has for too long lacked serious politiking and strategising – therefore steps must be taken to identify competent planners and strategists that are grounded and in tune with public sentiments to help guide the process.

Yes, speeches could be eloquent and articulate, ideas relevant, however, if there are no structures and processes to manage and steer the change in the right direction everything could quickly come to naught and hopes painfully dashed again.

The leader and his new team, having had an impressive start out of the blocks, must now manage the recovery into the drive phase to be able to accelerate ahead of the incumbent to the finish line for victory.

How quickly the recovery phase and reforms are enacted would determine how smooth transition to the drive phase takes place which would allow the party to run past the ruling party and reach the finish line first.

The time to the finish line will be very short and Dickon Mitchell and his team must act now.

Special Correspondent