The home stretch is now in sight with respect to the June 23 general election.
The electorate is now only six days away from casting their ballots on Polling Day to decide whether the incumbent, Keith Mitchell will continue as Prime Minister or the new kid on the block, 44-year old attorney-at-law Dickon Mitchell will replace him and take charge of the nation’s affairs.
This brings an end to five weeks of a bruising campaign involving combatants mainly from the ruling New National Party (NNP) and the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) with the others being considered as token candidates who might all lose their deposits.
Many pundits believe that there are similarities between the upcoming general election and those in 2003 and 2008 when a badly wounded Congress came back from a severe beating at the hands of Dr. Mitchell in 1999 and came back re-organised and re-energised to pose a serious threat to him for State power.
This might be so but THE NEW TODAY is seeing more similarities in the 1976 polls when the People’s Alliance faced up to the then powerful Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) of the Father of Independence, the late Sir Eric Matthew Gairy.
The election heralded into the political landscape of Grenada some fresh new faces – Maurice Bishop, Unison Whiteman, Bernard Coard and others – to threaten the stranglehold that Gairy had on the island against the weak Grenada National Party (GNP) of Herbert Blaize.
It is generally accepted in many quarters that the election was not free and fair as many persons including police officers voted more than once at the polls – some did so in the urban areas and then went up to their place of residence in the countryside to vote again.
The 1976 election was the start of the Social Revolution in Grenada in which the New Jewel Movement (NJM) emerged as a major political force and started to lead the charge to remove the Gairy government from power in Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique.
Most of the persons who joined the ranks of NJM in the fight against the then Prime Minister came from labour households.
These children of GULP turned on “Uncle Gairy” as he failed to provide a means and avenue for them to enter into GULP and make a meaningful contribution to national development.
There is a parallel between the period of the 1970’s and now as the current Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is now facing a Social Revolution being spearheaded by young people who have become frustrated with the existing system in the country.
The NDC campaign is being driven in the main by young people who are not prepared to accept the status quo of inadequate jobs in the Imani programme, as well as the offer of only contract work and not job security.
There is no scientific data available for anyone to conclude that some of the more educated ones in NNP Households might not be part of this unfolding Social Revolution to dismantle the status quo with hope of bringing about a better day for themselves and their children in the future.
Prime Minister Mitchell has been stunned by the spirited NDC campaign as these young people have utilised the Social Media platform in the same way in which Barack Obama used it effectively to become the first Black President of the United States.
It is clear that the young people have found a leader in Dickon Mitchell and are pressing forward to overthrow the outdated Keith Mitchell order in the country.
Ironically, two of the so-called progressives in the 1970’s, Agriculture Minister Peter David and retired trade unionist Chester Humphrey who were part of the anti-Gairy struggles in the 1970’s are now seen to be part of the Keith Mitchell dictatorship and now feeling the wrath of the young people.
The so-called “Project Grenada” initiative that was forged between PM Mitchell, Peter David and Chester Humphrey died within weeks of the 2018 general election as the NNP Leader sent out signals that he no longer needed them to be in the forefront of his governance of the island.
In the face of reports that some of the “progressives” have jumped off the NNP bandwagon, Prime Minister Mitchell used the word “Project Grenada” in the current campaign while admitting that there might have been a stumbling block and little setback but that he was all for it now.
It appears to be an appeal by Dr. Mitchell for these so-called “Progressives” who started to look in the direction of Dickon Mitchell and NDC to come back home as there was a place for them.
The outcome of Thursday’s poll will mark another significant shift in the political landscape that is Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique.
Dr. Mitchell did not want to accept the fact that the young people were revolting against his style of rule and governance when they verbally abused him and ignored the ban on carnival activities two years ago in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
The secret weapon in Thursday’s election that can benefit Dickon Mitchell and NDC in the battle to defeat PM Mitchell and NNP is the thousands of public officers and teachers who fall into the category of “silent voters” but who have been sending out the coded phrase, “Ah going and vote for me pension” which one pollster identified as the major issue that can determine the outcome of the June 23 poll.
THE NEW TODAY is making an appeal to the leaders of the two major political parties to do everything possible to ensure that the remaining days of the campaign are peaceful and violence free.
There is a sense that a nasty and vicious propaganda war has started as the day of reckoning draws closer for many of the politicians in this very high stakes general election.
Dr. Mitchell will not like to go down in history as the first sitting Prime Minister to lose to a newcomer in the political arena while Dickon Mitchell has emerged in short order as a very formidable leader in his own rights.