The New Today


NDC do not go to sleep on him for it will be to your own peril

After listening to the acceptance speech of the Leader of the Opposition, I reflected on these words by A.W Singham in his book, The Hero and the Crowd, “Through the manipulation of crisis situations the hero maintains his power for the essential link between the hero and the crowd is the former’s ability to mesmerise crowds and canalise their emotions for short periods of time.

Thus as politics routinise the hero loses power and it is to his advantage to maintain a limited crisis atmosphere”. Singham was referring to Sir Eric Gairy when he wrote those words. The defeated NNP leader is certainly no hero and can’t put his feet in Sir Eric Gairy’s or the great leader Comrade Maurice Bishop’s shoes.

However, he is a master manipulator and cunning as a fox, a ’Jekyll and Hyde” character who is so power hungry, a megalomaniac, he would stop at nothing to get back into power. That is why his utterances are to be carefully analysed and placed in context of his past actions when out of office.

There are two instances when his government was voted out of office, that is 1990 to 1995 and 2008 to 2013. During the former period between 1990 and 1995, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government led by Prime Minister Nicholas Brathwaite had to contend with a global economic downturn, high fuel prices and fiscal imbalance in the local economy.

In order to return the economy to fiscal stability the government was forced to implement a “home grown” Structural Adjustment Programme which was largely successful. However, one of the negative fallouts from the programme was a lack of investment in social infrastructure.

With the resignation of Prime Minister Brathwaite and government’s failure to invest in the rural economy that faced the brunt of the negative impact of the structural adjustment program. The defeated NNP leader was able to manipulate the crisis situation and galvanise broad support against the programme.

His New National Party (NNP) won the 1995 elections eight (8) seats to the NDC seven (7) seats in a close contest in which he was able to benefit with a promise of No Income Tax and workers fell for it in mass numbers.

Having earlier wrestled the party away from former Prime Minister Herbert Blaize, Keith Mitchell rode into power on a wave of discontent with the mantra, “is work you want, is work you go get”. He was then able to build a formidable coalition of working class, elements of the urban middle and business classes to win the 1999 elections by a landslide.

However, by 2003 he had lost support and narrowly won the election in that same year by a mere seven (7) votes in a contest which his party won by one seat.

In 2008 his party lost the election to the NDC. However, by 2013 he was back in power after he manipulated the crisis situation within the NDC and widespread discontent fueled by local economic decline caused by the 2008 global economic recession.

Keith Mitchell was again able to manipulate the crisis situation and regain his hold on power which he so dearly loved.

There is one common thread in the analysis of election results whenever he is voted back into office after an election defeat ,that is his ability to manipulate the crisis situation, capitalise on internal strife within the NDC, and use his cronies and sycophants to sabotage and frustrate the work of the ruling government.

In his acceptance speech after being sworn in as Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, his playbook was laid bare for all to see. It is clear as day he intends to take advantage of the global economic crisis and use the “deep state” parallel government of cronies and sycophants in the public sector to frustrate the new government’s efforts.

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell must not take this guy lightly and think he is down and out for there is precedence in the region for a comeback at his age.

John Crompton, the veteran former Prime Minister of St. Lucia was returned to office at eighty (80) after he relinquished power to Dr.  Vaughan Lewis as head of his party who then became Prime Minister and was subsequently defeated at the polls by Labour.

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell must be aware of the above and the mistakes of the last NDC government, and follow through with the wholesale changes that a majority of the electorate voted for.

The transition team must not be content to, “fiddle while Rome burns” rather they should be aware of the mistakes of the last NDC government and recognise that fifty-one (51) percent of the electorate voted for change and they have no choice but to adhere to the will of the people.

The situation where the Minister of Finance-elect of the last NDC government left a meeting of his transition team and met with the then head of the Ministry of Finance for three (3) hours and later the then Accountant General whom he both “hugged up” so to speak ,later to be disappointed by the late payment of salaries debacle must not repeat itself.

There is no time to buttress incompetent sycophants due to friendships or relations – the people voted for change and the technocrats on the transition team, some of whom were far removed from the current intricacies of the current public service, must listen to the electorate.

Should they fail to do so Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell must overrule them for if his government fails because of subversive actions of “deep state” elements in the public service, history will not judge him kindly in light of the experience of the last NDC government and the playbook of the opportunistic Opposition Leader.

Considering the current economic headwinds, the result of supply chain bottlenecks caused by the pandemic, global inflation precipitated by the war in Ukraine, and the playbook of the defeated leader, NDC must not lose sight and go to sleep on him.

The work of the transition team is critical to the success of the new government for how the government is designed and the quality of senior management staff selected would determine its success.

Having settled on the Cabinet, the challenge now is to put together a senior administrative team that is competent and experienced enough to help the government navigate the economic and social headwinds that lie ahead.

The team needs to consider the current poor quality of senior management staff, low morale and high level of indifference in the service, large number of deeply entrenched sycophants and cronies within the system, and the level of corruption and wastage of government resources, the result of a complex network of political patronage.

On top of these considerations, the transition team has to listen to the fifty-one percent of the electorate who are expecting to see the changes within the public service they have voted for.

Should the transition team overlook those issues mentioned and make the same mistakes of the past NDC, the new government will be severely hampered in its ability to deliver on its promises. This will play into the hands of the former leader who would manipulate the situation to regain political advantage.

The transition team must bear this in mind and those who are around the seat of power that are content to think this is a “fifteen year project” that is three consecutive terms, this is the end of Keith Mitchell should refer to the John Crompton comeback in St. Lucia, and should read, “The Hero and the Crowd”, and analyse the volatile swings in voting patterns locally before going to sleep on the guy.

If the delays in getting competent leadership in two critically sensitive areas as the FIU and Special Branch, and the quality of the first set of appointments to senior management positions are anything to go by, we are in for interesting times for as Singham said, “it is through manipulation of crisis situations the hero maintains his power”.

Related:  Is the new government being set up for failure?

Twice he has manipulated crisis situations and returned to power. During the period 1990 to 1995 when the first NDC government had to address severe fiscal imbalance and implemented a Structural Adjustment Programme and again in 2008 to 2013 after he again seized the opportunity with widespread discontent fueled by local economic decline caused by the 2008 global recession and internal strife in the party.

The current global economic situation caused by supply chain problems, rising inflation and war in Ukraine which has further exacerbated rising energy and food prices will produce significant headwinds for the local economy going forward.

Added to the situation is the threat to the Citizen by Investment Programme (CBI) by pending legislation in the United States Congress and Brussels and concerns from the IMF on sovereign government borrowing in the region.

Closer analysis of his acceptance speech after being sworn in as Opposition Leader last week Monday clearly suggests his intention is to take advantage of the crisis situation. When he mentioned in the speech that his government left the Treasury with enough money to finance government operations up to such time – he is laying down an important economic marker from which to launch his attack.

Similarly his comment on party boys walking into the Cabinet Office and giving instructions to the Police High Command clearly indicates he is already receiving information from his sycophants and cronies in the service and has returned to a chapter in his old playbook to create and use “Deep State” operatives within the public service to frustrate the work of the new government.

He may still be in a state of shock or even delusional after the stinging defeat at the polls, however as times passes and he gets back his bearings he will refer back to his old playbook as he seeks to once more manipulate the situation, for as A.W Singham said in his book, “Through the manipulation of crisis situations the hero maintains his power”.

So let the transition team “fiddle while Rome burns” and defy the will of the majority of voters and keep incompetent sycophants like the former primary school teacher and NNP activist on senior administrative team, worst yet leave him to advise one of your youngest ministers in which one of your key voting bloc – youths – depend on for services or keep cronies who were handpicked by the former Prime Minister.

The new government should be mindful that these elements are in the back pocket of the defeated leader and as such the failure to deliver quality essential services to the population can make or break the government or those who like to transmit sensitive information from high government offices to places outside the service where unsavoury saboteurs operate in functions that involve interactions with international partners with a lot of money that can help drive your development agenda in place.

It should be remembered that while all this is happening, the new government might be left to grapple with strong economic headwinds and to make difficult decisions in going forward.

The majority of voters who voted for change must ask the question – why after the previous elections within twenty four (24) hours of taking office the then incoming NNP administration removed the competent and highly trained head of the FIU and other competent and experienced senior management staff in the public service deemed to be supporters of the then outgoing NDC government?

It’s been more than three weeks and still counting that efforts are still being made to prevent that same officer from going back and taking charge of this most important sensitive investigative unit. Who is to be blamed for this unacceptable state of affairs?

Is anybody in the Police Force or operatives of the current government preventing this from happening? Are cronies of the defeated regime being offered time and given a golden opportunity to hide and destroy evidence that might be crucial for use in an investigation?

Does this inaction have anything to do with allegations of ghost companies by former high-ups’ in the defeated government and relations in certain High Command places?

NDC supporters must not be swayed by those who would use the patience argument and stand idly by for we have all lived through the two periods 1990 to 1995 and 2008 to 2013 and it was laid bare for all to see how the “Great Manipulator” exploited the crisis situations and twice returned to power after defeat.

For according to Singham, “The essential link between the hero and the crowd is the former’s ability to mesmerise crowds and canalise their emotions for short periods of time”.

The transition team has not designed a senior management team to set up the new government for success rather by allowing these sycophants and cronies to operate at liberty in key functions.

There is concern that the new government will be exposed to sabotage and instances of corruption in the previous government will be covered up by those same sycophants and gate keepers, some of whom in the first place, facilitated and participated in these fraudulent actions by hiding and giving false information.

This will only serve to demoralise public officers who are already in shock and allow the defeated “great manipulator” to rub it in the faces of elements of the NDC base that it is a party that treats its children badly. So for those who are talking fifteen year project and this is three terms the conditions are being laid for the “Manipulator” to thrive and rekindle that link between him and the crowd.

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell must understand if his transition team does not get it right now his new untested government could waste the next two years in a state of flux – left to fight fires with incompetent senior firefighters and demoralise junior officers while having to take tough decisions as his government attempt to navigate strong economic headwinds.

This is the ideal conditions the “Great Manipulator” thrives on and manipulated in the past and will do so again. He has already done so twice in the past and if the actions of the transition team is anything to go by there is nothing to stop him from doing so again.

Closer analysis of the elections results would show that if the five thousand or so NNPites who either voted for the NDC or stayed at home returned to their camp the balance on June 23rd will immediately shift.

This leaves the truly swing voters who are concerned with issues such as corruption, decency, government wastage, economic and social malaise, and they would move away from the NDC as well if they don’t see genuine change.

The manipulator knows that very well and although there is discontent in his camp, he is politically skilled enough to outmanoeuvre his opponents and instil youthful energy into the party in much the same way as NDC did.

The Prime Minister must not lose sight of the fact that this guy is a “Great Manipulator” and allow his government to be set up for failure because recent history has shown when given an opportunity the defeated NNP leader will manipulate the situation for his own political benefit.

The young Prime Minister and his transition team should remember the words of A.W Singham, “Through the manipulation of crisis situations the hero maintains his power” and although he appears to be down and out now, once his “deep State” apparatus remains in sensitive positions in the public service and the crisis conditions persists he will manipulate the situation to his advantage. Please don’t go to sleep on this great manipulator. NDC massive, please remain alert and make your voices heard and don’t allow the ill-considered actions of a small clique to expropriate your victory and give the “Great Manipulator ” an opportunity at a third come back.

Special Correspondent