The New Today

The impact of Tobias Clement

THE NEW TODAY believes that little credit is being given to the bold move by Tobias Clement in 2019 to resign from the ruling New National Party (NNP) of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and bring an end to its 15-0 stranglehold on the life of our Parliament.

It should be recalled this total dominance of the NNP started in 2013 when the party won all 15 seats as it humiliated the National Democratic Congress (NDC) which was in power and due to bitter political infighting lost the confidence of the electorate and was booted out of office.

Mr. Clement’s move came seven years after the one-sided Parliament became too boorish for many Grenadians to follow the proceedings among the elected Members of the House of Representatives.

It can be compared to the 2000 decision taken by another NNP Member of Parliament, Michael Baptiste to cross the floor after a similar 15-0 whitewash of political opponents by Prime Minister Mitchell.

Mr. Baptiste’s emergence as Opposition Leader brought back hope in particular for the Congress party which was forced to engage in a rebuilding process in which a number of “old guards” like Michael Andrew and Kenny Lalsingh were forced out of the party to make way for the so-called “progressives” like Peter David and Nazim Burke.

Within 5 years, the newlook NDC had only themselves to blame for not toppling Prime Minister Mitchell and NNP at the 2003 polls which they lost by 6 controversial votes on the sister isle of Carriacou & Petite Martinique.

The so-called “progressives” who brought new life into NDC miscalculated the political climate in the country and concentrated on winning a certain number of seats to get into Parliament and then launched a full-scale attack on Prime Minister Mitchell and his NNP outfit.

In addition, Congress displayed poor political judgement when it failed to demonstrate leadership and allowed a three-way fight in the St. Andrew South-west constituency between Baptiste, its own candidate Osbert Charles and the incumbent MP, Yolande Bain-Horsford of NNP.

Baptiste should have been given a free ride to take on Bain-Horsford in a one-and-one contest and the vote tally on election night showed that the NNP female government minister would have been wiped out.

It was another similar situation in the St. George South-east constituency as a 3-way battle ensued between Works Minister Gregory Bowen, NDC’s Dr. David Lambert and former founder of the party, Dr. Francis Alexis who resigned from Congress after the 1995 loss at the poll to NNP.

A combination of votes between Alexis and the late Dr. Lambert would have forced Bowen to go into political oblivion.

Eighteen years later, the NDC has found itself in a similar situation with the decision of Clement to quit the NNP and cross the floor to renew hope among the ranks of the opposition forces in the country.

The leadership of Congress again misread the politics in the country and internal bickering resulted in the young female NDC member from St. John being forced to back out from an offer made to her to continue as a member of the Senate under the new Opposition Leader.

It was another missed golden opportunity to cement a political arrangement among opposition forces that would have advanced their cause by nearly two years.

Today, the new NDC Leader Dickon Mitchell is currently engaged in the same kind of talks with the Opposition Leader that should have concluded months ago.

The fact is that Mr. Clement has brought to the Senate persons who can be seriously considered as worthy candidates in general election in the country.

It is also emerging that the new NDC Leader was engaged in secret talks with the Opposition Leader on the political situation in the country over a considerable period of time in a particular location in St. Andrew outside of the NNP radar.

The emergence of Dickon Mitchell on the national political stage and the reaction from a wide cross section of the population to this 44-year old attorney-at-law has stunned the NNP to the point that the party was forced to go into high gear as it was cruising out of the belief that the NDC was dead for good.

The mantra of the NNP is Dickon Mitchell has to be “killed” politically and now that it is emerging that he will be contesting the St David seat against Foreign Minister Oliver Joseph the budget from the powers-that-be will increase two-fold to 200% to try and defeat the new Congress leader.

Dickon Mitchell can expect to face similar treatment to former Finance Minister and NDC Leader, Nazim Burke from the 75-year old incumbent Prime Minister Mitchell who is desperate to go into retirement not with a defeat at the hands of a contender who was not even born when he contested the St. George North-west seat for the first time in the 1972 general election.

THE NEW TODAY is convinced that Mr. Clement has a role to play in the political evolution of the country in this period as the anti-NNP forces seek to gather momentum and strength to bring about regime change in Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique.

The newlook NDC should distance itself from the poor decisions of the past that fractured opposition unity and make the way clear for the Opposition Leader to defend his St. George North-east constituency against the new NNP candidate in the upcoming general election.

History will judge the NDC and its commitment to the rebirth of democracy following years of dictatorial one-man rule by its decision in the next few weeks and months.

This period calls for maturity and correct political decisions in the national interest.