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Commentary: Peter David's defection to the NNP: Astute political move or naked opportunism?
Published on June 5, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Arthur Kallick

The invitation to the endorsement of Peter David came by way of a note signed by Terry Forrester -- public relations officer of the ruling New National Party (NNP). The said note invited the media, party supporters and the general public to the event which took place at the Paraclete Government School situate in deep rural Grenada on May 20, 2014.

Arthur Kallick was born in Trinidad and lived in Grenada until he moved to Canada in the late 1980s after completing secondary school. He has a Master’s in family counselling and child physiology from the University of Toronto. He is now a freelance writer and has been living in Grenada for the past six years, and at present works with Caribbean Family Planning unit as a counsellor
Mr Forrester’s note went on to say, “This endorsement ceremony promises to be filled with excitement and jubilation as we witness the decision of the former minister of foreign affairs of the then National Democratic Congress government, Mr Peter David, as he take the oath to be formerly (sic) endorsed as a full member of the New National Party.”

The NNP was indeed jubilant as Mr David was a former general secretary of the NDC for more than a decade.

Mr David, according to the note, answered the call for inclusion so as to make his contribution to national unity and development with the team of the NNP.

This political event no doubt would have generated quiet satisfaction within Dr Mitchell. The intense and sometimes caustic nature of the political confrontation between the two main parties featured the handiwork of Messrs David and Mitchell. As it stands, it was David who went knocking at Dr Mitchell’s door but there are now consistent reports that the two were in frequent contact even while Mr David was a member of the NDC administration.

Basdeo Panday, former Trinidad prime minister, said that politics has its own moral bearings. It is oft said that politics can make some strange bedfellows. Be that as it may, no one can question Mr David’s right to join a political party of his choice. It is a right enshrined in the country’s constitution.

The endorsement ceremony is probably the first of its kind in the country’s post independence history. The reference to the oath is indeed novel because most persons join political organisations and are not subjected to this. Maybe Mr David is considered a “big fish”.

This development was not unexpected, as Mr David was expelled along with others from the NDC on September 30, 2012. He had resigned from the Tillman Thomas-led administration months earlier.

Dr Mitchell, over several years, made a raft of accusations against Mr David, ranging from credit card fraud, dual citizenship, of having pulled a gun against his (David’s) father. In some cases, the ugliness of his visceral remarks can only be described as being unfit to a person occupying the office of prime minister. These have all withered away in the euphoria within the NNP camp after having caught an NDC “big fish”.

Mr David, at his turn at the crease, had much to say. He made an analogy that suggests that a political party is a vehicle to get you to a political heaven which, if it is not going in the direction that you want to go, then you should get off and take another one that hopefully will get you to your destination. For Mr David, this is the third party that he has joined in his career. Will the NNP bus get him to his political destination?

After a decade of calling Dr Mitchell a dictator leading a corrupt administration, Mr David now hails his transparent and inclusive governance. Mr David seems to forget that, as a result of the senseless division in the NDC, in which he played a key role (he denies that), the party lost the 2013 elections.

In the aftermath of the NNP victory, thousands of ordinary Grenadians lost their jobs. Their only crime was that they were supporters of the NDC. NNP inclusion seems to be for Mr David and a few of his friends who have retained their jobs after the change in administration.

Mr David has make reference to the corrosive effect of party based tribalism. In this regard he is right. He speaks of working together to build the country. Those with longer memories than Mr David will recall Joan Webley‘s stint as manager of the NNP campaign in 1999. This is major reference point in the colourisation of Grenadian politics. If there was a designated prison for such a ‘crime’, Dr Mitchell would certainly be an inmate. One wonders if joining another party after being expelled from another will help Mr David realise his dream of “party-less politics” in Grenada.

David tried hard to contain himself from making disparaging remarks about the NDC and its newly elected political leader Nazim Burke. He meandered through his speech trying to ingratiate himself publicly to Dr Mitchell with frequent references to “count me in”.

The courtship between Dr Mitchell and Mr David has culminated in what appears to be a marriage of convenience, whose novelty has already begun to recede in the minds of many Grenadians.

Many citizens opine that they cannot trust politicians, hence the cynicism and lack of interest in politics especially the youth. Others speculate that Mr David may have an eye on the age clock, as he is nearing 60. But what is his philosophy? Many ask; Dr Mitchell said that they both like people. However, politics is not the only way one can help his community. The real issue is state power. Does Mr David believe that the long shadow of Dr Mitchell over the NNP will provide the necessary cover to assume leadership of the party?

There are many in the NNP rank and file who will welcome the affable Mr David; as for the old guard and the new kids on the NNP block, it may just be a different story.

Is this move by Mr David an astute political manoeuvre or a case of naked opportunism? In my humble opinion, it smacks of the latter.

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