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The Dynamics of Grenadian politics

Politics will always be politics wherever you go and in some countries it’s more unique than others. But what makes it dangerous is when it becomes partisan.

Brian JM Joseph

From my perspective and point of view, I must say that politics have always played a major part in our lives. As the saying goes “ah bad for me party”, and I don’t care if I have to make enemies with my friends on the other side.

That’s how (we) the people behave especially the masses as it relates to party politics here in Grenada, because every (5) years Grenadians are always eager to go out and vote for their political party. Note well, I said party and not candidates, because that’s how (we) the people vote. That’s the kind of politics that we’ve had and have embraced over the years and it has molded and shaped the mindsets of our electorates into making poor decisions every election.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane and look back on our past political history. I may not recollect what exactly transpired or led to many of those circumstances but I’m hoping this will jolt the memories of many individuals.

The dynamics of Grenadian politics consists of a multiplicity of things including scandals, controversies, corruption and political repression.

PS: To the younger generation of youths who may not be aware, I just want to keep you abreast with history because the Grenada Constitution was suspended on (2) occasions first in 1962 relating to “financial improprieties” by the then Chief Minister Eric Gairy and when the same Sir Eric was ousted from power in 1979 by New Jewel Movement (NJM), our Constitution faced its second suspension and it was then reinstated after the 1983 events which led to the fall of the Grenada Revolution.

Here in Grenada, we have a strong history of comparative elites dominating the political landscape and may I add, [we] do not have any political class.

I’m very certain that those who are holding political offices today don’t have a BSc in Political Science. It’s time for (us) young people to start moving in a direction that they can be able to prepare themselves for leadership likewise governing this beautiful nation of ours.

There is a great misconception on what is defined as politics and partisan politics. The political literates know that both slightly defer in comprehension with each other. Politics in itself has to do with the business/affairs of the people and it works in the interest of all.

When one is partisan he/she is blinded without reasoning. Love and favouritism or preference over one political movement than the other can also create a serious political divide. Over the decades we have seen how it downplayed and manifested itself into the Grenadian society.

Today we no longer see each other as Grenadians but rather as party supporters NNPites and NDCites.

Partisan politics hinders progress and it prevents bipartisanship between parties into making good decisions that would affect or impact our country in a positive way. We have had tremendous political rift within all political movements here in this country that resulted in breakaways that formed new political movements that never lasted as long as Williamson’s fire.

Under the leadership of Sir Eric Gairy, when he led Grenada United Labour Party (GULP), we have had instances where members were expelled from the party.

Both Nadia Benjamin and late Waple Need in 1976 had their appointments revoked and their offices of Parliamentary Secretaries were made vacant under subsection (2) of section 64 of the constitution by the Governor General.

His Excellency Sir Leo DeGale was acting in accordance with the advice of the Honourable Eric Gairy, the Prime Minister. We have also experienced political rift under the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) led by Cde. Maurice Bishop. We have heard about power struggles and saw how the various fractions from within conspired and had Cde Maurice and other cabinet ministers executed on Fort George which led to the 1983 US-led Military Intervention.

Under the Grenada National Party (GNP) administration led by our late Prime Minister Herbert Blaize – who helped to create the merger that led to the (first) New National Party (NNP) government, there was the usual constant tug-of-war for leadership which led to the rug being pulled from underneath his feet.

And that’s when a new leader emerged as head of the party. History stands as testament of what transpired back then. Out of those political wrangling emerged the NDC. Our late Prime Minister George Brizan and Dr. Francis Alexis founded the political movement.

NDC has formed the government on only two occasions, first time around was after the 1990 elections which the late Sir Nicholas Braithwaite became Prime Minister and again in 2008, led by former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas. And since 2013 they have been a party in exile without any parliamentary seats that would make them eligible to represent anyone in parliament as an opposition.

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How many of us remember the resignation of the late Dr. Raphael Fletcher from the NNP in 1998. His action rendered the NNP party unstable and in chaos and as a result, early elections were held.

In 1999 Michael Baptiste ran on an NNP ticket for St Andrew South West and won.

Parliament was without an Opposition because NNP had won all 15 seats. Very early in the term, Michael Baptiste left the ruling party to become Opposition Leader.

When NDC won the 2008 election, they too had political rift and infighting taking place. Joseph Gilbert was axed by the leadership. Let’s not forget what led to the resignation of junior minister Michael Church. Church was demoted after he visited Italy with former Trade Advisor Patrick Antoine without the government’s knowledge and consent.

From thereon things went sour within the party – Glennis Roberts formed her own political movement when she was expelled from Congress, and Peter David with a few unhappy NDC Executive members joined forces with the NNP.

The most recent breakaway we saw lately was that of Hon. Tobias Clement, resigning from the NNP and while it may have took many by surprise, I wasn’t because I saw Tobias as a principled man with much potential and political ambitions.

He’s now officially Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition. This was an opportunity that he embraced and welcomed. And he being the lone or official opposition voice in both Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament.

So far I have not seen much spark coming from him in Lower House maybe he needs to take a page from Michael Baptiste’s book.

But let’s give jack his jacket, his senators in the Upper House have really proven themselves – Sen. the Hon. Tessa St. Cyr, Terry Noel and the newcomer Matthew Joseph as “I have seen much fire coming from them already” and they have the vibrancy to bring fruitful discourse that will result in much debate that will bring about positive changes.

I must say wholeheartedly, that I’m very proud of Sen. Joseph because he had made valuable contribution as an educator likewise he has impacted many lives throughout his teaching career, and today he’s now a Statesman – “hats off to you sir” on your achievement.

I believe if our leaders are educated enough in the field of political science, they will be capable enough in making better decisions that reflect democratic aspirations and political ideas. Those ideals will definitely help bring about positive changes in our political landscape.

Therefore I believe in a better and free Grenada, free from political repression from those in leadership today. And in order for that to happen, we need a new brand of politics in this country because Grenada needs visionaries that can take this country move forward further than it can hopefully see itself.

Under the PRG regime in the 1979-83 revolution, Grenada was a growing and prosperous nation and our people were fully educated and the revolutionary government ensured that people from all walks of life likewise in every nook and cranny in Grenada were afforded those opportunities.

We have had our history and share of political rift likewise political divide over the decades. It has left our people somewhat damaged and mentally scarred. Since the introduction of coloured T-shirts by Joan Gordon Webley, a seasoned Jamaican politician and long-time friend of Dr. Mitchell, we have seen how this level of divide segmented the population into two factions – NNP and NDC.

Today we’re left with a nation that’s suffering from political illiteracy and lack of civic education.

We must now ask ourselves – what has been the desired outcome from one man rule and to be exact Tin Pot dictatorship?

Despite our various political opinions, regardless of our differences and political discourse, we all have to learn to live with each other as one people and one nation because “we’re all Grenadians.”

But we don’t have to accept the same ole political rhetoric from those segregationist political elites that have rendered and keep riding on the backs of our people as political illiterates.

Grenada deserves way much better than the NNP administration because I’m often saddened by what have transpired in the past and still continues to take place – the issue of political repression from a Tin Pot dictatorship.

In conclusion maybe it’s wise and prudent for (we) the people to say “for Grenada to grow NNP must go” because they often behave like if they’re creating new policies but nothing changes.

Brian J.M. Joseph