The New Today

Letters

The Jab Jab chant – “We want back Uncle Tilly”

The holy bible declares that there is a time for everything. If the inspired one who crafted Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 was aware that in the 21st Century, there would be a political party in Grenada called the National Democratic Congress, he would have added to that great portion of scripture, words to the effect: “there is a time to sit on one’s backside and a time to get up and get”.

Indeed the time has come for the NDC to reverse the state of stagnation and inertia which have engulfed them for so long because one may ask the question; if not now then when?

In 2008, the NDC campaigned under a banner of change. Yet as an organisation, change for them seems as elusive as cleanliness is for a stink and dirty jab jab. For donkey’s years, the NDC has closed ranks, battened its hatches and much like the story of the three little pigs, have debarred anyone from coming in… not by the hair of my chiny chin chin. They have become the perfect flipside of Hotel California – You can leave anytime you want but no one can get in.

Even the smallest child knows that politics has a high level of fluidity, volatility and indefiniteness. Nothing is cast in stone especially the composition of a party’s ranks. Political enmity is a state which lacks permanence and durability.

This simple political fact parades up and down the corridors of time, yet so myopic is their vision that try as they may, they cannot see it.

This is the only political organisation in the world which shuns the philosophy that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. How can a political party watch its surrogates criticise, condemn and castigate other organisations and individuals who are diametrically opposed to Keith Mitchell and the NNP and not bring them to heel with a serious dose of chastisement?

This brings me to their Achilles heel; the one thing which undoubtedly creates the biggest headache for them. The persistent crisis of leadership within their ranks. They have struggled with this as a little oaring boat struggles in the waters over kick em Jenny in high tide.

The party has either consistently gotten this wrong or seems to have no clue as to what to do. I do not think that anyone would dare wager a bet that they are not about to get this horribly wrong again. In fact, the imminent re-emergence of V. Nazim Burke has left many of their supporters with their hearts in their collective mouth.

The NDC needs a leader at this time who would be able to galvanise the party into action and excite a base which has languished for the last few years with both feet planted firmly in a political grave of its own digging. It needs a leader who will not alienate its youthful, vibrant and effervescent members but who will channel their energy and exuberance for the greater good of the party.

But more than ever the party needs a leader with a unifying touch; one who will be willing to extend the olive branch of forgiveness, open up the party and invite any and every Grenadian who is unhappy with the direction that the NNP is taking the country. One who will cast aside the old grudges of the past which hang like a millstone around the party’s neck, and who would instead rally a coalition of like-minded individuals with a common purpose – that of freeing Grenada from the clutches of the NNP regime.

The question then is – where would such a leader come from? Is V. Nazim Burke such a leader? In recent weeks, Phillip Telesford has thrown his hat into the leadership ring? He is fresh and green but does he have the desired acumen? Would he be able to deliver the goods? Should the leadership be trussed upon one of the young and upcoming or should they try to entice a Richard Duncan or a Derek Sylvester – a task which seems well neigh impossible?

The more I think about what is needed, is the more I am convinced that the NDC has such a leader among its ranks. I am in total agreement with the views expressed in THE NEW TODAY latest editorial piece. It is time for Tillman Thomas to redeem his guns and buckle them on once more to save his party and country.

The immediate criticism on many lips would be that he is too old. Age however, will certainly not be a factor because Tillman Thomas and Keith Mitchell are almost identical in terms of their years spent on Mother Earth. Additionally, Tillman has aged unnoticeably without having to blacken his curls, and is much sharper now than he had ever been during his stint as Prime Minister.

One can vividly remember when Keith Mitchell kicked up a storm before the election of 2008 because he badly wanted to debate Tillman Thomas; so sure was he, and justly so, that he would be able to put Thomas to shame. I doubt that he will be so eager to debate Tillman today. In fact, I have a strange feeling that he would want to stay as far away from level headed, sharp tongued Tillman Thomas as he possibly can.

Tillman is the only one presently who can open up the party and not alienate like-minded people or the youths. Why? Because he has done it before. One ought not to forget that he was the one who stretched out the Olive branch to the young revolutionary “baldheads” when the party stalwarts wanted absolutely nothing to do with them. And remember, his imprisonment was presided over by some of the same people who he opened up his arms and heart to – which clearly shows that he has a forgiving spirit.

On top of all this, Tillman is still loved, respected and revered by a vast cross section of Grenadians. The fact that the Monika “Uncle Tilly” has remained with him to this day speaks volumes of the adoration that Grenadians still have for him. In fact, the “Demons from Crown City, who dared to defy the Prime Minister last August, provided the NDC with the solution to its leadership crisis when they chanted up and down the streets of Sauteurs; “we want back Uncle Tilly”. But alas, the NDC either was not listening or took it for a joke. Well, the jab jab has spoken loudly, fiercely and with great conviction.

No one can doubt that Uncle Tilly would have his work cut out to rescue his flailing political organisation – but if anyone can do it, he can because he did it before. He will have to take some bold and fearless decisions to make the NDC a more welcoming, forgiving and politically astute organisation.

Patrick Antoine and his TGM will not fare much better than PLM and GOD in a general election. Grenadians have zero appetite for more than two political parties – this much is clear.

However, there is little doubt that a collusion of some kind with TGM will be most valuable. This is an organisation that speaks the same language that the NDC speaks and in Patrick Antoine, you get intelligence and a man with deep and far reaching ties – something that NDC sadly lacks.

Uncle Tilly would have to lead his party past what Patrick said and did not say or what he did many years ago when he was an NNP stalwart.

While V. Nazim Burke may not be the source of the leadership vaccine which NDC so badly needs, he is too good a brain to be left in the wilderness. Tilly will have to determine how and in what capacity he can be reengaged.

He will need to rope back in the discontented, who have felt the halo of rejection and alienation from a party which they once gave their blood and sweat for and are now aligning themselves with TGM. He must demonstrate great strength and not be afraid to eyeball certain key individuals, the likes of Arley Gill, Hamlet Mark etc, and have the hard reconciliatory conversations with them.

He would have to quickly demonstrate that he has outgrown the weaknesses which he demonstrated while he was Prime Minister, by not listening and acting on the advice provided by those who love to wag their tongues in the public domain, washing the party’s dirty linen for all to see, posturing so as to create an opinion of wisdom, gravity and profound conceit, when their sole intention is simply to sow and nurture seeds of confusion, disharmony and bacchanal.

Only weekend gone I heard Mr. William Joseph, in an attack on Nazim Burke, pompously and braggingly declare that he had presided over the removal of Peter David from the NDC. This is the sort of counsel from the sort of individuals that Tillman will have to let come in through his right ear and pass out through his left.

The outspoken youthful voices out there are crying out for someone to lead them and channel their youthful enthusiasm. The likes of Tevin Andrew, Asheida Charles, Joel Greenidge, Kem Jones, Kassandra Mitchell, Ron Redhead and others who are consistently at the forefront of the political conversations, with political mentoring, can become a useful and indomitable force united by their passion and collective conviction that Grenada can do much better than the NNP.

And most of all, he needs to exorcise the ghost of blame for Peter David which gnaws at the very innards of the party and its rank and file. Peter David is gone and it is counterproductive to continue to shower him with the blame for every mishap which the party encounters or treat every situation which is not too complementary of him with orgasmic delight.

David cannot be a baggage which the party is prepared to tote down the ages – it is either they come to terms with it or positively channel their fixation by trying to reel him back into their folds – because if one is able to look at things dispassionately, it will become abundantly clear that he has a lot to offer and he is not a natural NNP. If you ask me he is an NDC who was kicked out by his own and now finds himself walking on egg shells in the dwelling place of his enemies, pretending that he is at home there because he knows that anything less would make him a laughing stock.

Finally, putting Uncle Tilly back at the helm of the party would not only be the NDC’s best option at this time, but it will give him a chance at redemption; an opportunity to atone for the many mistakes which he made during his stint as Prime Minister; a chance to show that he has grown as a leader since those unfortunate days; a chance to translate the pluckiness and spunk which he appears to have developed after 2013 into a strong, genuine, dependable, caring and unifying leader.

If the words of their chant are anything to go by, it appears that the jab jab players believe that he can do it.

We want back Uncle Tilly.

Snake Oil