By Hudson George
Peter David has joined the list of Grenadian politicians who switch political sides and it should not be a big surprise to those of us who are following Grenada politics. After the 1972 general election, when Gairy’s GULP defeated Herbert Blaize’s GNP party and won with a landslide victory, GNP politician Wellington Friday jumped ship and joined the GULP government. Years later on different occasions, other politicians such as Marcel Peters, Edzel Thomas, Elvin Nimrod and Michael Baptiste jumped ship and joined the ruling team in order to fulfill their political ambition but only Michael Baptiste could not find political comfort under the command of his new captain.
Hudson George has a BA in Social Science from York University, Toronto, Canada. He has been writing since his early teenage years and now contributes letters and articles to a number of Caribbean newspapers
After Wellington Friday abandoned the GNP party in 1972 and became a full-fledged member of Grenada United Labour Party, Eric Gairy was so happy to have Mr Friday on his team. He rewarded Friday as a senator, minister of education and ambassador at large of Grenada. Mr Friday’s political action brought shock-wave to the people of St Patrick West, who supported him with high hopes that he would be the future political leader of Grenada because he was younger than Herbert Blaize. However, Mr Friday made his own personal decision and joined the GULP government, even though some of his followers in his constituency were physically abused by supporters of the popular GULP regime during the election campaign.
As a matter of fact, when Mr Friday jumped ship, he was not expelled from the GNP party. He did not openly challenge Herbert Blaize for leadership of the GNP party, as in the case of Mr David, who openly challenged Tillman Thomas for leadership of the NDC party. Friday realised that Eric Gairy was the most popular politician with a strong working class base following. Therefore, he decided to humble himself and never tried to challenge Gairy’s leadership. In 1979, when the Gairy regime was deposed in an armed struggle, Friday fled to exile in the United States.
In addition, after the US invasion 1983, when democracy was restored, Gairy came back from exile. In the 1984 general election, Friday also came back from exile and contested the election as a GULP candidate and lost. The GULP party won one seat. Gairy lost his seat too but Gairy wanted the GULP candidate winner Marcel Peters to resign the seat, so that he (Gairy) could contest the seat in a by-election and be the GULP opposition leader in parliament. However, Mr Peters refused to give up the seat. He served his time in parliament as the official opposition leader. Gairy called him an ungrateful traitor and he was kicked out of the GULP party.
In 1990, Marcel Peters joined the NDC party and contested the seat in the same constituency. However, he lost the seat to GULP candidate Dr Lawrence Gibbs but he was still fortunate, the NDC won seven seats, GULP won four seats and the Keith Mitchell NNP won two seats. However, the GULP candidate who won the seat in the St John constituency jumped ship and joined the NDC to form the government. The NDC governed the country from 1990 to 1995 and Marcel Peters was the Speaker of the House during that period. Presently, he remains a loyal NDC supporter up to this day.
Now in Peter David’s case only time alone will tell, if he will remain a humble person within the NNP political organisation, or if he will behave the same way as Michael Baptiste, who left his GULP organisation and joined Mitchell’s NNP for a while and then rebelled. It is no secret that David’s political track record goes back to the days of the Grenada revolution, when he was one of those top ranking party members, who ruthlessly helped purge out the rural elements of the New Jewel Movement from the People‘s Revolution.
And based on my personal experience with the Grenada revolution, I believe that David was taking orders from Maurice Bishop, Bernard Coard and Unison Whiteman to eliminate the grassroots base of the New Jewel Movement from the revolution, so that they could create a Marxist party with an elitist class of intellectuals making decisions, without the people’s consent.
Additionally, it is blatantly clear that Peter David’s main ambition is to be a future prime minister and his biggest challenger is Mr Nazim Burke, who took over the leadership of the NDC party. David realises that the NDC still has a strong following as the main opposition to the government. He knows that time is not on his side to fulfill his political ambition, if he tries to form his own political party. He must have learned a bit of Elvin Nimrod’s political tactics. After Nimrod failed to win his seat in Carriacou and Petite Martinique as an independent candidate, he humbled himself and joined the NNP. Presently, Nimrod is the deputy prime minister.
On the other hand, David will have to tread his political route very carefully. The frightening thing is that he seems to have some followers, who see him as their political leader and that is dangerous. If they continue to show up themselves big and bold, as though they are members of his entourage, rather than trying to assimilate themselves within the NNP political culture, such kind of behaviour can create tension with the old core NNP cadres and the situation can explode.
In conclusion, the NNP senior leadership will have to be very careful that they are not damaging the foundation of their political organisation by embracing David. And if they think that the NDC will remain a lazy political party, they might be making a big mistake.
The present NDC leader Nazim Burke is a very intelligent person and there is a possibility that he and his deputy Joseph Andall will modify the party by bringing in vibrant progressive thinking intelligent persons into the organisation. Therefore, all those who are supporting Peter David must realise that Nazim Burke and Joseph Andall are two smart men that have other political tricks to pull out of their books.
And according to how most Canadians say: “I loving it!” Grenadian politics is very colourful and attractive. There’s never a dull moment.