The New Today

Commentary

Time for change in NDC

The last two years have seen a host of political and policy blunders by government that has caused the population tremendous pain and suffering. The pandemic further exposed weakness in leadership and a population yearning for a new beginning to take the country in a different direction from its current path of political malaise.

In this situation, one would think that the main opposition party would be in a better position to mount a successful challenge to the incumbent. However, if election was held today the main opposition party will get trounced once more in the polls.

The question must be asked – why this is so? The fact is that supporters and party delegates should be concerned with the current state of that organisation. For the very least, a well-functioning opposition party is a bulwark of democracy as it can serve to keep the ruling party in check and be considered a government in waiting.

Therefore, the continuing state of disorganisation and toxic culture that have permeated through the leading opposition party should be of concern to all citizens who want to see a strong democratic culture continue to blossom on the island.

The party from its inception has had internal conflicts and wrangling, however the current state of stagnation apparently enabled by a few narcissistic executive members is indeed troubling.

The party must find a way to extricate itself from these executive members for it to grow and become a credible alternative to the incumbent. The upcoming convention provides an opportunity to do so, however delegates to the convention, and rank and file members must play a pivotal role in the process.

One of the most important role they could play is to ensure a new vibrant and politically savvy executive is elected and given a mandate to put the party on an election footing.

The current executive deceptively driven by the General Secretary has badly failed the party over the last five years. The General Secretary seems to hold the party to ransom conniving with others to frustrate its work and even undermine senior political leadership causing them to resign to achieve his sinister agenda.

It is bad enough presiding over successive election defeats but to say during post-mortem of the last election that you knew the organisation that you just managed its elections campaign would lose is terrible.

The dysfunctional state of the party can be partially attributed to the ineffectiveness of the General Secretary to manage and his lack of political acumen. There is a serious information disconnect between the executive and those functioning constituency groups, the strategy or planning committee, poorly constituted and led, has not been able to provide sound strategic thinking to the organisation hence the absence of realpolitik to guide it.

The structure of the party and its many organs are outdated and cumbersome preventing proper planning and timely decision-making, and a culture of intolerance to new ideas, intrigue and suspicion of others have been allowed to seep into the psyche of the organisation.

The conniving, divisive and controversial leadership style of the General Secretary is hampering the growth and development of the organisation. If delegates and party faithfuls allow the current General Secretary to remain on the executive, the party will be doomed to continued failure.

Another glaring weakness of the party is messaging and communications. It is mind-boggling how the party is unable to influence the narrative to gain political advantage after repeated failures and political blunders from the Grenlec debacle to the pandemic response by the incumbent.

The current holder of the post appears to misunderstand her role and is functioning in an outdated mode. She clearly doesn’t have a team around her or is contented to operate in a solitary manner which is not helping her cause.

An effective Public Relations Officer leads the planning and preparation of publicity strategies, and campaigns. The officer will coordinate the writing and producing of messaging materials, presentations and press releases for the public. All this should be done in an effort to manage the reputation and image of the party and place it in a favourable position in the minds of the electorate to persuade them to vote for the organisation.

This is one area that is in need of a serious revamp to improve messaging and image of the party.

Another important position on the executive that is in need of serious consideration is that of party Chairman. An effective party Chairman should be well respected inside the organisation and the wider society.

The office holder must be able to hold the party together and make sure it functions in accordance with its constitution. A good Chairman ought to manage internal squabbles and differences of opinion while ensuring the smooth functioning of the various organs of the party.

The Chairman must be able to cultivate and manage external relations with party chapters in the diaspora, the local and regional business sectors, and civil society. The poor state of relations with the business sector and civil society, and absence of proper co-ordination with external chapters are evidence of an inept Chairman.

The organisation is in need of a dynamic, well respected consensus builder that can build relationships and connections with regional, international partners and various sectors of the society.

Considering the absence of strategic planning and realpolitik, none of the four persons reportedly competing for the position of General Secretary have what it takes to effectively function in that position. The current General Secretary, who it is alleged plans to be nominated on the floor is a complete waste of time. After successive defeats at the polls this conniving character has shown time and time again he will not be able to help place the party on an election footing.

Although, he has tried to make himself indispensable to the party, his performance as General Secretary over the years has been nothing but dismal. One doesn’t have to look too far, just look at the state of the organisation. If any delegate or party faithful is hoping to vote for this guy on October 31 they should think twice.

If there is any truth to the Pascal lady and Learie Barry are in the running, none of them is the right fit at this time. Learie Barry can be considered a rabble-rouser not known for delivering as promised while the Pascal lady is a relatively unknown that has little political acumen and strategic planning skills.

Ron Redhead, himself an outspoken energetic youth leader, could be a compromised selection, however he might not have the deep analytical capacity and organisational experience to properly function in the position.

Delegates might be forced to look on the floor of the convention for suitable candidates, and Stephen Fletcher and Gloria Thomas come to mind as two persons who can effectively function in that position.

Delegates and party faithful should look outside the four names mentioned and get the Thomas lady or Stephen Fletcher or another competent individual, a realpolitik to hold the position – someone who is more politically savvy with excellent organisational skills.

Three persons are said to be vying for the position of PRO. Randall Robinson served in the position previously, however his past tenure could be considered a failure. He is in the same mold as the current office holder, unable to develop messaging around popular issues and lift the image of the party.

Jason Skeete has left a trail of controversy in past engagements with other organisations and appears to have a contentious character, not suitable for the position. He may have some experience in media, however in terms of preparation of publicity strategies, developing messaging and reputational management, Jason may not be a proper fit at this time.

Orlando Romain, the third candidate who has a marketing and communications background is young, dynamic and progressive thinking. His youthfulness, passion and creative energy add to his communications background, making him an excellent choice that should be given the nod by delegates.

To waste the talent of Tevin Andrews by burdening him with the position of party Chairman when he should be focused on his constituency work to further bolster his chances in the next general election would be unfortunate.

The party needs to look for an experienced hand, a respected consensus builder with business connections to take on the post of party Chairman.

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Tevin might be a better choice for deputy political leader since he is one of the very few caretakers who has a chance presently of unseating the incumbent candidate.

The situation of Political Leader is rather intriguing after looking at the alleged contenders seeking the top position. There might also be some sinister moves at play as well. At first glance, the imbecile interim political leader appears to have a long shot chance of succeeding.

Unlikely to win the St. David’s constituency should he run again, lacking political and leadership acumen, he would be best advised to drop out and focus on constituency work or support a candidate more likely to be able to take that seat.

Phillip Telesford is in a similar predicament not having a strong political base in the constituency he wishes to represent. It is foolhardy to think he can succeed as political leader.

Phillip must understand you have to crawl before your walk much less run. He has to learn politics and become a realpolitik, before taking such a gigantic step if he wants to succeed in politics.

Listening to his utterances on television programs it is quite clear he is not ready for prime time. Looking beyond his bravado, he lacks a deep understanding of politics and is not prepared for the position he wants.

There is a lot that could be said about Nazim Burke – his failures at the Ministry of Finance, his indecisiveness in making decisions, lack of political fight and realpolitik, however his actions over the last three years leading up to and after the last general elections are the most telling.

After leading the party to successive whitewash defeats he abandoned it rather than remain and help to rebuild the organisation. Sensing a possible change in political fortunes he has now re-emerged from retirement. What is even more disturbing is the conceited, sinister manner in which he appears to be doing so.

The mixed signals at the onset – he was not interested, then asked to be given time to consider placing the party’s timelines on hold then this backdoor attempt to insert himself into contention. Having done nothing to improve his political fortunes or rebrand himself, he is not in a position to lead any fight against the incumbent and has once again laid bare his selfish opportunism.

Not recognising the public’s yearning for a younger, dynamic, fresh face in leadership, he is prepared to stymie efforts by the party to reinvigorate and reinvent itself, with injection of passionate, youthful enthusiasm in an effort to further his selfish political aim.

That can explain why both he and the embattled General Secretary are planning to get their names on the ballot on the floor at the convention.

Both Learie Barry and Adrian Thomas may very well be spoilers, set up to take votes away from other candidates allowing both the current General Secretary and the former Finance Minister to slip through the backdoor onto the executive.

Dickon Mitchell is a brilliant young lawyer with a calm demeanour who wants to save Grenada from the ruling government. He may not have nationwide name recognition, however when his story is told and humble beginning revealed, people would warm up to him. Though he lacks political experience, Dickon is astute, willing to learn politics and build a solid team of advisers around him.

Dickon’s youthful energy and refreshing dynamism could compensate for his lack of political experience and grounding if he has the right set of people to guide him. His brilliance, humility and strength of character could endear him to the people if he is prepared to work hard on the ground.

Dickon with his shortcomings would be more acceptable to the sections of the electorate who want change, a new beginning, with a fresh face as the former Finance Minister represents the old guard, the toxic status quo repeatedly rejected by the people.

That being said, a name not mentioned as a contender but was purportedly considering a run, Derick Sylvester, is the perfect fit for the party at this time. A brilliant defense attorney who worked the length and breadth of this country defending poor people, rose from nothing to become the leading defense attorney in the country, a young man of impeccable character, very personable with an endearing personality, would definitely be a game changer in the political landscape.

Derick is the only one on the list of names that could help the party expand its base beyond the twenty thousand or so votes and put in play multiple constituencies by virtue of his ability to attract large sections of the youth votes and undecideds that comprise a significant portion of the swing votes who usually get the incumbent over the finish.

The question is – who or what dampened his enthusiasm to join the party and pursue frontline politics?  Was it the sinister connivance of those narcissists in the party who foresaw with his entrance they would not be able to realise their deceitful selfish aim?

Was Derick’s efforts thwarted because the plan was always to bring back the former failed political leader through the backdoor? Party faithful and delegates, think hard why was the General Council’s decision to have the convention held in early August not acted upon?

The General Secretary sat on his laurels and did nothing to advance the preparatory work for the convention, forcing a rescheduling of the date, apparently giving the former failed political leader time to arrive at a decision to run.

Party faithful and delegates, it is time to wake from your collective slumber, move away from this clannish attitude and force genuine change within the party. You can’t allow this group of political Neanderthals to continue to hold the organisation to ransom.

The time has come to replace this toxic culture of deceit and intrigue with one of hope and optimism.

Party faithful and delegates, are you not tired with ‘whitewash’ election defeats? If you are, then the upcoming convention is an opportunity for you to help the party by electing a strong vibrant youthful energetic executive that would place the party on a sound election footing.

Analysis of past elections would suggest that NDC has a base of around twenty thousand, the NNP base is around twenty seven thousand or there about. If the votes for St. George’s North-west and St. Mark’s, and to a lesser extent St. George’s South and St. David’s are seen as an outlier, all other constituencies can be considered marginal.

Any candidate for political leader that could attract large numbers of the youth vote and undecided would be able to help the party win in marginal seats. Of all the names being called as potential candidates for Political Leader, Derick Sylvester is the only one who could attract in large numbers the youth vote.

He will also do well with undecideds because of his name recognition, character and endearing personality. He is the right fit for NDC at this time where the electorate is clamouring for change.

If the party elders, faithful and delegates want to give NDC a chance they should invite Derick Sylvester back to the party.

A consensus slate comprising Derick as Political Leader, Dickon as deputy, Senator St Cyr, Stephen Fletcher, or Gloria Thomas as General Secretary, Orlando Romain as Public Relations Officer with persons like Phillip Alexander, Lenox Andrews and Leo Cato filling other executive positions.

It should not be seen as far fetch for a day in politics is a long time and if party elders like Tillman Thomas are genuinely concerned about the state of the party, they will move to do what it takes to stave off the attempt by the deceitfully, narcissistic, toxic bunch to stop the influx of youthful energy from reinvigorating the party.

For NDC to grow Glen Noel and Nazim must go. If the delegates and constituency groups allow Glen Noel to remain on the Executive and Nazim Burke to be elected Political Leader, the NNP would be assured of another ‘ whitewash’ victory at the polls and possible remain in power for another two election cycles.

Party faithful and delegates, is this what you want? We will all know on October 31.

Special Correspondent