I sat quietly and watched events unfold since the defeat of The New National Party, the party I have always supported. Just like many I was shocked and amazed at their defeat. I just did not see it coming. So, I sat quietly, watched, and listened to others give their opinions as to why NNP lost.
I am not sure if it matters now; however, I believe old people say that we learn from our mistakes. Therefore, I think I have been too quiet, and it is my time to give my frank opinion.
In my mind, I agree with most people that the leader and his campaign style played a significant role in this defeat. Some people think that the timing of the election was bad; maybe it should have been called between October 2021 and March 2022 before the opposition had time to organise.
Others believe that all the projects started by the NNP Government should have been completed before the election was called. They should have ensured that people spent a good Christmas and then call it in 2023. It does not matter the date, what mattered was that it was called, and the campaign was focused too much on entertainment rather than substance.
The leader’s style of whining down on stage and using old talk and dialect recitals went down well with the supporters he already had in the bag; however, it isolated, annoyed and irritated a new generation of more sophisticated voters.
Unlike most people, I do not see age as a factor, but I saw a campaign with a lack of vision and ideas and the same old fashion style of delivering goods and services to impress voters just before an election. I saw a 75-year-old statesman trying to fit in or going out of the way to prove that he was physically fit to compete against a 44-year-old opponent.
I saw a party that was unable to come up with creative, sustainable, and innovative policies to give young people hope and something to look forward to. I saw a leader in a one-on-one interview struggling to articulate his position on agriculture, the backbone of the country’s economy in a time when many countries around the world are highly focused on food reliance.
I saw the opposition tear apart the NNP youth (Imani) program, painting it as exploitation with no effective rebuttal. I don’t understand who the advisers were. After observing how the opposition used social media and other maneuvers the party leadership should have been able to become more innovative.
The candidates have to take full responsibility for their individual losses. The perception out there was that NNP never did anything but for themselves and their supporters. Individually they never did anything to change that perception. Too much cronyism was practiced among candidates.
Either these candidates did not articulate well what was done in their various constituencies or nothing substantial was done. Villages in Grenada are small, and people always remember good representation. No innovation was used in the individual campaigns and governance in general.
I do agree that they were a heavy anti-Dr. Mitchell’s sentiment on the ground; however, if you are good to your constituents, candidates are always remembered and voted back. The Candidates who won with the exception of Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Clarice Modeste almost lost their seats by a handful of votes. I really don’t see anything to celebrate.
The town of St. George’s, according to NNP – a sure seat, was almost lost. Why? In my mind too many handouts and eat-a-food mentality. Look at the dilapidated buildings in that constituency, including the public library. Where is the vision, and the plans?
Mr. Minister, your best friend and campaign manager, the Ambassador for the Diaspora could have reached out to groups abroad to help rebuild the library without government funds. In general, community and people’s involvement in nation-building were definitely lacking in constituencies.
Ms. Carriacou, there was a solid Nimrod support group in New York before his death. You never courted them. They could have helped with projects, for example, rebuilding the police station in Petite Martinique that became famous on Facebook and also, help you become victorious.
Some of the other candidates who did not have the ability to whine down to the ground as the leader should have known when to give up without being asked to. Many looked frail and weak on the platform. They should have replaced themselves with younger persons.
I guess NNP diaspora outreach no longer exists. New York, for example, has a support group run for years by the same visionless President and her cronies. It is ran as a close-knit group with the same fundraiser year after year.
The group assembles in someone’s home and that person determines who can attend meetings or not based on their liking for the individual. This group most time is too ashamed to put NNP on fundraising tickets for fear their friends will not attend. Most of the old NNP supporters were the pillars of the diaspora’s support which was dominant in New York for decades have been isolated, maligned, and treated as outcasts.
Many feel deeply hurt by the treatment dished out after their years of sacrifices and dedication for the party they loved. Most frequent words used to describe Dr. Mitchell by these ex-NNP individuals are ungrateful, petty, and vindictive.
I don’t blame him solely for these problems but for the spineless, visionless support group he endorsed in New York. Many of them are saying that the elections were lost by him. Still, they must take full responsibility for the many NNP supporters that were isolated, which pushed them into the NDC camp. Many became turn tails, campaigned fervently against the NNP party, and helped in NDC’s recent victory.
Where was the Diaspora appointee in this election? Maybe sitting on the sidelines waiting to be reappointed by the incoming government. After all, grasshoppers/deflectors have no loyalty. This individual helped in dividing the diaspora and effectively demoralising the real loyal, hardworking NNP supporters in New York.
During the height of Covid-19 pandemic, both NNP and NDC supporters in the diaspora gave the Keith Mitchell-led NNP Government high praises for handling the crisis in Grenada and many groups and individuals donated generously to their homeland’s needs.
The Diaspora appointee had an excellent opportunity to seize the moment to rally people’s support for NNP Government. Dr. Mitchell knew in the past how the diaspora helped him to win elections, I could not understand why he did not rally the troops at this opportune time. I guess that’s how it unfolds when positions are given based on friendship and not competence.
In my mind, new opposition leadership should not be an issue at this time. Whether NNP supporters like it or not, there is no NNP without Dr. Keith Claudius Mitchell (everyone knows he is the light of the party). This image should be changed gradually and not suddenly, or the party would lose many of its core supporters.
Remember the big vacuum that appeared when NDC changed its leader right after 2012 election? I do not believe that NNP should concentrate right now on changing Dr. Mitchell. After all he’s still considered the go to person of the party and things might disintegrate if an untested individual takes the realm regardless of supporter’s loyalty now.
Don’t make it appear that the leader is being pushed out but lift him up for his accomplishments. Be subtle in your judgement because this new NDC government still has a mighty long road ahead. Winning an election is hard but governance may be even harder.
Reconnect with the diaspora and form new support groups that are open to all members. A leader would emerge eventually. It should be a fresh new person, with vision who can walk toe to toe with Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell.