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Time is running out for NDC

The saga within the NDC continues as October 31 draws near.

It appears the conniving General Secretary and his bunch of misfit companions are bent on taking the party to the gutter in pursuit of their selfish desires. Their actions will in the long run give the incumbent government an easy victory in the upcoming general elections.

Another whitewash defeat in the polls could spell the end of the NDC and reverse progress made in our fledgling democracy. With the upcoming elections, I am dumbfounded as to why a concerted effort is not made to select a strong executive to run the affairs of the party.

When I looked at the list of persons who have expressed interest in positions on the executive, the proposed schedule of activities for the convention, and listened to the last Sunday radio program, it is quite clear the dice is cast and those narcissists that are responsible for planning the convention are hell bent on creating the conditions for the rejects to prevail.

Considering the state of the party with many constituency groups not fully functioning, selection of delegates from those constituencies would be open to question and therefore pursuing a heavily contested virtual elections is preposterous.

The group of narcissists having little regards for the long-term wellbeing of the party and are concerned only with their selfish objective to reinstate themselves at the helm of the party.

The party’s base having been in the political wilderness for so long was forced to face the agony of successive whitewash defeats and must move to buck their attempts at political suicide. The time is right for delegates and party faithful to speak out and make their voices heard to stop the madness.

Deceptively allowing these weak candidates to stand knowing very well it’s a ploy to assure victory to the rejects is a travesty. Listening on Sunday to the goodly lady vying for the post of General Secretary, I was appalled at her understanding of the functions of a General Secretary much less the absence of strategic thinking and organisational skills. Lady, you being a small business woman doesn’t make you the right fit for that important position.

Although Lennox Andrews was mentioned as someone who can fill one of the lesser positions on the executive I was taken aback by his comments on the said Sunday program. His attempt to portray himself as this big academic fell flat with his rather incoherent, pedestrian, run of the mill utterances on the economy.

This points to the fact that not only some of these candidates are weak, others are too into themselves with an inflated sense of self-importance to connect with ordinary people and champion their populist causes. This has been a perennial problem for NDC as a party.

The deceptive manner in which those on the executive go about handling simple matters is another cause for concern. If there were concerns about Jason Skeete then have a frank and mature discussion with him and don’t lead him on to believe he can contest for a position on the executive when he is not even down as a delegate to the convention.

The situation regarding Jason Skeete highlights another longstanding problem with NDC – that is the deceptive manner of those on the executive as regards how they operate and how they treat their own kind.

How many of the other candidates are either in a similar position to Jason or are being pushed only to take away votes from other candidates to allow the rejects to slip through and win the contest. This explains why the General Secretary is adamantly pursuing his agenda of a heavily contested, virtual, convention to achieve his objective of facilitating the return of the rejects.

To the few financiers who over the years have been propping up this organisation the question must be asked of you – how long are you going to waste your scarce resources and enable this bunch of narcissists to pursue their failed agenda?

You have the power to force meaningful change in the organisation, to help facilitate a seamless, effective infusion of youthful energy in the NDC that can help to lift the image of the organisation in the eyes of the electorate. You can do so by demanding the party commence a process to arrive at a consensus slate of candidates in a transparent manner.

With that being said the slate must be strategically put together in order to achieve the best political outcome. In the vacuum that presently exist in the NDC, glaring absence of strategic thinking and real politick, the emerging opportunity to reinvigorate and reinvent itself could easily be dashed away if the process is not managed properly.

The process has already started on the wrong footing and facilitated by the political imbecile that is the General Secretary.

With the influx of young people expressing interest in taking up membership or joining the party, a strategic thinking General Secretary would have come up with a plan on how to best leverage this momentum to benefit the party. Particularly, when some of these persons begin to show interest in executive positions.

There is definitely a yearning for a different direction, a new team, a fresh face in leadership, however that has to be placed in the social, political, and historical context of Grenada.

The history of parliamentary politics in Grenada has always pitted the working class against the upper class. With the triumph of Eric Gairy and the GULP, the working class was able to tip the balance in their favour. The Grenada Revolution with Maurice Bishop as its leader further tipped that balance in favour of the working class.

The Americans attempted to shift that balance back to the upper class, after collapse of the revolution but it failed.

What emerged later was an NNP party modeled after the GULP which always had a strategic alliance with elements of the urban business class and landed gentry.

The latter never had political power it was always a convenient business arrangement more like a syndicate. After ill-treatment by light skinned overseers on the estates and in their homes as domestic servants, the working poor would never accept persons from that ilk as their leader.

Even those dark skinned middle class types who are perceived to be closely connected to the upper class are frowned upon by the working class.

Anyone who understands this social and historical context would know it will be difficult for Dickon Mitchell to be easily accepted by large elements of the lower middle and working class. Notwithstanding his brilliance as a lawyer, the son of a working class mother, Dickon having not cultivated a longstanding and strong working class connection would have to work very hard to do so, and time may not be on his side.

To portray him as this bright young lawyer heavily backed by elements of upper class business interest might not be politically prudent and is just playing into the hands of the realpolitik Keith Mitchell.

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On the other hand Derick Sylvester although just as successful as Dickon never moved away from his roots, he stayed grounded to his working class background and cultivated a strong relationship with the working class, representing poor people across the island. In addition, he is affable, personable and endearing and would be easily accepted by the working class, in particular the youths.

Armed with this level of analysis, the General Secretary should have taken a strategic approach to allow the party to benefit from the potential of these two young leaders. Derick who is endearing and affable would be able to connect with the working class and expand the party’s base, a better fit for leader, while Dickon with his strong business connections would be able to help the party raise resources to finance its operations and elections campaign.

However, at this time, with no one or group within the party seemingly able to arrest the current situation, the responsibility now rest with party financiers, delegates and party faithful to force the hand of the present executive to give the NDC the best chance in the upcoming general elections.

This means avoiding what can end up as a virtual dog fight of a convention. There are inherent risks in having all these candidates contest the various positions especially in a virtual setting.

The executive, delegates, party faithful and financiers have to consider the state of the party, current political climate, social and historical perspective, and surge in youthful enthusiasm, and clamour for new leadership to arrive at an approach that would give the NDC the best possible executive and leader that would take the fight to the NNP in the upcoming elections.

This election is going to be a tough challenge for the NDC since the NNP are already making strategic political moves to further strengthen its advantage.

Although, Keith Mitchell is bogged down with the Covid-19 response he is quietly laying the foundation for an election campaign. He is putting his slate together, advancing capital projects, correcting the wrongs done to public servants and conducting constituency wide polling.

Keith Mitchell and the incumbent party must not be taken lightly for in spite of the fact that he is in the twilight of his political career, the leader is still a real politick.

If NDC feels Dickon Mitchell is the panacea and victory would be assured because of him and whatever resources he can attract, they are making a sad mistake. There is still a lot to change in that organisation, the deceitful toxic culture, the cumbersome structure and outdated committees – many of which are ineffective, and the porous nature of the organisation are those that immediately come to mind.

The party needs to become more nimble in its structure, able to make decisions more easily.

The rebranding and reform of the British Labour Party into New Labour had two powerful personalities at the helm, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown with a small team of advisors among them, Alastair Campbell, Peter Mandelson, Ed Manning, and Jonathon Powell driving the process.

These present committees of the NDC, many of them can be considered as talk shops and wouldn’t cut it in the current political dispensation. It lends itself to the porousness of the organisation where internal information is not secured as the other side gets to know the internal happenings of the organisation.

Another cultural change that has to occur in the organisation is this tendency towards self-aggrandisement by members, this was very evident in last Sunday’s program by Lenox Andrews.

Coupled with this is a culture of failure where persons who are putting selfish egos over party, continue to contest seats and lose repeatedly and not wanting to give way to new blood in the belief that they are entitled. How come persons on the search committee are putting themselves up for executive positions?

Is this not a conflict of interest?  One of the first order of business for the new leader will be to reform these committees in particular the planning, search and candidate selection. The party has to look for a fresh slate of candidates to contest the upcoming election except for Carriacou.

The historical and social context doesn’t go in Dickon’s favour, notwithstanding his upper class business backers, he alone with his lack of political acumen can’t take the fight to the NNP.

What is required is a team much like that of New Labour, there is still a need for a populist Derick Sylvester type and a strong dynamic executive comprised of persons with organisational skills, strategic thinking and realpolitik.

The current lot of political imbecile rejects should not be allowed to horse trade or curry favour with whoever will be the new leader to maintain their current positions. There must be a complete overhaul of the executive with a populist platform focusing on the needs of the people and not that of big business.

Labour is already concerned with Dickon’s past work in the legal profession by representing big business against workers, so if some in the NDC think his entry will bring financing and that’s enough to defeat NNP it is a fallacy.

There is no substitute for a reform minded executive with deep competence in strategic political thinking with a strong ground game, supported by proper polling and an army of field workers prepared to roll up their sleeves and work hard.

It is time that the party hire a competent regional pollster to do national and constituency wide polling that would inform party decisions on selection of candidates and agenda going forward.

If this influx of youthful energy is not properly harnessed and the party does not take the opportunity to reform and reinvent itself that could mean its deathbed.

Unfortunately, from all indications the rejects in an attempt to hold on to power have commenced a campaign of deceit and character assassination to undermine some of their own comrades within the party. This type of infighting will further compromise efforts to arrive at a viable slate of candidates and prevent the party from making the required break from the past to move forward into the future.

When the General Secretary should have months ago managed the influx of youthful energy for the maximum benefit of the party, he was playing a game of deceit to enable the return of the rejected former leader.

Now the tide seems to be turning against the bunch of narcissists, he and his sycophants are mounting a rear guard attempt to determine the outcome of the elections in their favour by deceitful means, manipulating the list of delegates and quietly discrediting persons.

If delegates, party faithful and financiers do not act now, time may soon run out for the NDC.

Special Correspondent