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Commentary: Proroguing parliament in Grenada is part of our Westminster Model of Democracy
Published on September 5, 2012 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Hudson George

Is proroguing parliament a parliamentary coup by Grenada prime minister and two other visible members of his cabinet? I do not think so, even though a popular recognised Grenadian journalist tends to believe otherwise. However, it can very well be that the journalist is just playing politics.

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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.
The Westminster style of democracy we inherit from Britain makes it part of our constitution where the prime minister can prorogue parliament, if he/she feels that the government can be defeated in a no confidence motion vote from renegade members of parliament from the ruling party, or the opposition parliamentarians. Therefore, I do not believe Prime Minister Tillman Thomas has made a parliamentary coup. I believe he is trying to secure his five years in office based on Grenada’s constitution.

Personally, if I was living in Grenada permanently and eligible to vote in the 2008 general election, I would not have voted for the NDC party, because I saw the great danger ahead. I was fortunate to be in Grenada during the entire 2007, observing what was going on. I left the country the second week in February 2008. During my stay, I observed the behaviour of the various factions of supporters within the NDC, and listened to them speak of the different political dreams they had for a better Grenada and I said to myself, if the NDC wins the election in 2008, it will be more chaos for Grenada.

The errors of things that the NDC politicians and their political activists were blaming the NNP government for, to me did not make any real sense, if they wanted to develop Grenada and to create employment for the unemployed who are mostly young people. I realise they just wanted to defeat the Keith Mitchell administration, and it was always easier for them to criticise Mitchell’s style of leadership because they represented the main political opposition during that time and they had nothing to lose and all to win. The NDC tactic at that time was to make sure that they could convince voters that 13 years of Keith Mitchell’s reign was a detriment to Grenada.

However, I must say I was a bit surprised when the NDC won the election on July 8, 2008, even though they had almost won the previous one and they were a vibrant opposition with lots professional lawyers, whom most Grenadians looked up to for solutions. But then again, after living in North America for very long time, I understand the importance of swing voters and the effect swing votes can have in a general election.

I made it a study to follow the NDC administration from the day they took office in 2008 up to this present moment. The first thing that made me recognise that an early split would occur among some elected parliamentarians was when I saw Peter David as the foreign minister make the quick move to rename Point Salines International Airport after the late former Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. Peter David might be a flamboyant urbanite, but his political actions were not tactical by moving so quickly to rename our international airport. He acted like an educated vibrant youth in his twenties who thought he knew it all.

In addition, Minister David’s quick rush to organise the Grenadian Diaspora in America, Canada and Britain was a big error. He aligned himself with former supporters of the Grenada Revolution that left a bad taste in many Grenadians’ minds. In the past, David and his associates branded many Grenadians as anti-progressive, even though it was based on false allegations in most cases, and for his revolutionary clique’s selfish ambition to consolidate their hold on power. Therefore, he should have moved as Grenada’s foreign minister with more caution; unfortunately, his ego was too big. He thought that he was still a top member of the People’s Revolution.

Other early signs of split within the NDC administration came to the public when some of the so-called progressive elements within the NDC party openly showed their displeasure with Glen Noel as a selected government minister. Even I was kind of shocked when I recognised that the so-called leftist faction did not favour Glen Noel, knowing that Mr Noel was an active Grenadian comrade during the revolution. And I am still trying to find out why they dislike the comrade. I can only presuppose that maybe Mr Noel was not a member of the Bernard Coard faction, or perhaps they see him as too much a creolised rural citizen.

Additionally, when Minister David made his move to become the strong man within NDC party and the top elected parliamentarian to be reckoned with, he was so confident, he challenge the prime minister for leadership, and now he finds himself face to face fighting another battle with Finance Minister Nazim Burke. In spite all the nice urbanite Grenadian talk and flamboyant moves David always portrays, Nazim Burke seems to have him cornered on all the moves he made to grab power. Presently, Mr Burke is hell bent on not allowing Mr David to take over the party and leadership. I predict a big showdown between these two individuals in the near future.

Presently, the political situation in Grenada is very interesting. Even though journalist Hamlet Mark believes that Tillman Thomas, Nazim Burke and Glen Noel hatched a parliamentary coup by proroguing parliament; however, it is impossible that educated Grenadians will believe Mr Mark. Those of us who read and understand the British Westminster style of democracy, know that it is not a parliamentary coup. All prime ministers who govern countries under the Westminster model of democracy basically govern from the centre. A prime minister who rules a country under this model of democracy has lot of power and he/she can use their power when it suits their political comfort.

It does not matter if the prime minister is Tillman Thomas, Peter David, Nazim Burke or Karl Hood. Whoever the leader of the country is will hold on to power by imposing the law and prorogue parliament for their personal benefit. It is very important that those who know better must tell it to others who do not know. It is our duty to make sure that we educate each other, rather than mislead and hide the truth. However, I know that politics is a dirty game, but that does not mean we all should dirty ourselves in the dirty game.
 
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Comments:

Ian Francis:

Mr.George:

I find your article very interestingp provides some interesting insites but lack a broader perspective about the future of the nation.

It is fully recognize that Grenada like many other Commonwealth nations adhere to the Westminister style of politics. However, I think that you are incorrect to say that prorogation is a westminister model, therefore, if Thomas elects to pursur prorogation, there is nothing wrong because it is a Westminister style.In my view, this is not the case.

While I do not know Mr Mark, it is my understanding that he is a very respected journalist and from time to time, he alerts readers about trends and challenges in Grenada.

In this instance, Mr Mark's alert call that Thomas might want to exploit prorogation is extremely credible. Prorogation of Parliament is a tactic used when the sitting head sees danger approaching that could lead to the fall of his government.

Now that independent member Hood has filed a no confidence motion against the government' he has rightly canvass other members and apparently got the nod for support of his nation, I have no doubt that Thomas is fully aware that he is unlikely to survive Hood's motion.

Given the above and his continued foolish and stubborn behavior that he was elected for five years and no can remove him is very laughable.However, by him adopting such a silly position, my assumption is that in order to avoid the humiliation of defeat in the lower house, prorogation will be a wise and undemocratic move on his part to avoid a no confidence vote.

His options at this time is limited and he has no room for maneouvring except to abuse the Westminister Parliament. Since he is adamant that he was elected for five years, I think Mr Mark's assumption of Prorogation is reasonable.

Finally, I do not see a faltering and defeated NDC between Burke and David. Yes, it seems obvious that a split has occurred between these two former RMC members and in parting ways with David, Burke has gained the upper hand.

However, in terms of national politics and governance, both men have entered an environment of political wilderness with no return. It is likely that David will be trounced in the Town of St.George. While Burke is likely to be re-elected, the NDC Party might not be so fortunate in the poll.

I agree that there are some issues between the ruralites and the Urbanites of the NDC. The symantics are restricted to the fortcoming convention and are unlikely to have any play in a national election.

The renaming of Point Salines Airport was extremely befitting and the Tillman administration must be commended for such a gesture.

Frankly, Grenada is at a political crossroad but you continue to be stucked in PRA politics. Times have changed and you must adjust to it.I have found David and Burke to be very intellectual and smart. However, Grenadian voters do not trust them and there is no difference with Boffoon Glen Noel.

Lets move forward and do not smash Mr Mark's theory that Tillman's new tactics is syrvival for the fittest whicj can occur with a weak speaker, half dead GG and they all surround Thomas.

Hudson George:

Mr. Francis:

We have a long history in Grenada of dressing up stories and gossip like a wedding cake, so they will appear as good gossip stories that sounding sweet, and when the less inform citizens hear those lies, and then they spread it through the nation for decades.

False stories like, Eric Gairy squander government money, Keith Mitchell was given a suit case with half a lover million dollars. Soldier from Pearls Army Barracks tried to over throw the People’s Revolutionary government. Rasta’s blaming farmers and other villagers who are not involved the marijuana trade as informers whenever the police raid the Rasta’s illegal Marijuana crap.

It is high time that we a as Grenadian people stop dressing up stories to make them look like the truth, in order to gain political mileage and to send fools further on.

How can the leader of a country make parliamentary coup by proroguing parliament, when the constitution allows the leader to do so?

We have to educate our people rather than promoting the culture of political melee. If not we are not going nowhere in terms of creating a better society.

It is obvious that thousands of Grenadians do not know what the word (Prorogue) means. I honestly believe that if Mr. Mark cares so much about Grenada, rather than his political lineage, he would have taken some time and write a nice article, explaining to his readers what is (prorogue), and why such a law is in our Grenadian constitution.

I wrote this article to make a difference in the way some fool keep on using the media to create tension, rather than share good information.


ian Francis:

Mr.George;

I do not think Grenadians need to be educated on what is "Parliamentary Prorogation"? I am inclined to believe that they would as "WHY PROROGATION?. In any event, you have a responsibility to raise awareness and understanding of the subject if you still hold the opinion that Grenadians are unaware.

The current political crisis in Grenada provides me with three clear insights. These are 1) Grenadians at home and in the disapora are very disillusioned with the Thomas administration. As such, they are ready to give him and his accomplices their termination papers.This can be achieved by Thomas showing "PATRIOTISM" and asking the Governor General to call early elections. However, he has opted not to do so by hanging on and using the rationale for such despicable political conduct to say "ME FIVE YEARS NAH UP YET".With such a deplorable conduct, he has no other alternative but to hang on and make TOMFOOLERY ANNOUNCEMENTS about Projects that are in the stream. With his desire to hang on, his stategy is to avoid Parliament as long as he can.

2. The Hood no confidence motion drives the final nail in the coffin.However, Thomas and his accomplices in their thirst to hang on to power are aware what will happen if and when Hood's motion is on the order paper. Therefore, stay from from Parliament because we do not want to be defeated on a no confidence vote.

3. With all of the above, it might only be a blind bath who cannot understand the issues that Mark has raised.If there is no reversal in Thomas and his accomplices behavior, then he will have no other option but to embrace "PROROGATION" or go to the GG IMMEDIATELY. The latter is not likely. So THOMAS'S strategy is simple. AVOID PARLIAMENT; EMBRACE PROROGATION; ATTEMPT TO FOOL GRENADIANS ABOUT QATAR AND PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE AND GOVEN ON AUTO PILOT UNTIL HIS FIVE YEARS IS UP>

3. There is recognition of a Party internal battle for delegates to be accredited to the NDC Convention next month. It is also a known fact that Thomas will not be re-seeking election as Party Leader and as an electoral candidate. Therefore, Burke has claimed leadership given that he holds the post of Deputy. In order for him to obtain the post, his delegate count at the convention must also support office holders he can work with. This is where the rural and urban symantics have arrived in the Party. It is a smart political move for Burke to be aligned with Thomas and Noel to get the rural convention votes that are likely to stop David, Gill and others.

Let me conclude by saying, the obituary of the NDC governing Grenada is on its way. The next task is for Burke to assume the leadership, get a team that he can work with and embark upon the doomed task of party rejuvenation.

Winston Strachan:

Dear Mr George,

I think you will find that Ian Francis is right on all counts in terms of the Westminster Style of democratic government.I have been a member of the British Labour Party for over 40 years. I am also a local politician ( a councillor on Northampton Borough Council as well as a Councillor on Northamptonshire County Council. Ian Francis knows what he is talking about. My only interest in this is I want both of you to continue giving your opinion on issues affecting the Caribbean and Grenada in particular. It is also wonderful to read your articles.

Hudson George:

Mr. Strachan:

I am dealing with the law and constitution of Grenada, that is a duplicate of the British democratic system, you are a parliamentarian within.

What is written within the constitution, when implemented, it cannot be a coup as in reference to proroguing parliament. It is part of the constitution.

My goo comrade Mr Francis should not defend the the statement by Mr Mark, (parliamentary coup).

Mr, Mark is a highly respected Grenadian journalist, and he must keep his standard a good reputation. Raw propaganda is not a good thing for Mr. Mark to indulge in. There are lots of wise people out there, and they might not say any thing, but they know what is factual from propaganda.

We have to grow beyond political lies such as, Eric Gairy squander government money, Keith Mitchell was given a suit case with half a million dollars. Soldier from Pearls Army Barracks tried to over throw the People’s Revolutionary government.

These political lies remind of the time when Rasta’s were blaming farmers and other villagers who were not involved the marijuana trade as informers whenever the police raid the Rasta’s illegal Marijuana crap.

Maybe if Mr. Mark had said that the prime minister is afraid to call an early election, so he prorogue parliament, I will not criticise him. But this thing about parliamentary coup does not send a good message.



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