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Commentary: Grenada's NDC is academically handicapped with many educated people
Published on January 22, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Hudson George

The latest news from Grenada about William Joseph’s resignation from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is not a big surprise to me. Whenever a political party has too many educated people vying for top leadership, it is expected that some members will resign, when changes are about to take place and their political interest is at stake. And with this NDC party, since it was formed, there is always some kind of contention about who should lead the party.

hudson_george.jpg
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
Even though this NDC party was formed by educated professionals such as George Brizan, Dr Francis Alexis and Tillman Thomas, it seems that something is always missing that can bring long lasting unity and discipline within the leadership.

When George Brizan, Dr Francis Alexis and Tillman Thomas broke away from the Herbert Blaize NNP government and formed the NDC party, they brought in Nicholas Brathwaithe in 1989 to lead the party during a party convention, because there was a conflict between Brizan and Alexis about who should be the party leader.

When the party won the election in 1990, Nicholas Brathwaithe became prime minister and Brizan and Alexis played the role as deputies, until Brathwaithe stepped aside and Brizan became the prime minister for a short period. In 1995, the NDC lost the general election to Dr Keith Mitchell’s NNP party.

However, the first open division within the NDC took place when Alexis challenged Brizan for the leadership of the party in a convention and Brizan defeated Alexis. The politically wounded Alexis went his own way after, and formed the People’s Labour Movement party, which never really attracted the Grenadian masses, until it faded away from the political scene.

Although Alexis’ PLM party was not able to attract voters in large numbers, the NDC under Brizan’s leadership became sort of dormant during its period as the main opposition. Mitchell’s NNP government won three consecutive general elections. The NDC suffered its worst political setback in the 1999 general election. All candidates lost their seats, including Brizan. The party almost became a nonfunctional after Brizan’s health was affected due to poor eyesight.

With Brizan suffering from poor health and no one within the organisation skillful and bold enough, or with the courage to bring in new people to join the party, Grenada almost became a one party state. Mitchell and his NNP government had no real threat to be scared, until Tillman Thomas became the new leader of the NDC party with his surprisingly new friends, who were once his worst enemies during the revolution.

Some Grenadians who were fed up with the NNP government and wanted a political change became supporters of the rejuvenated NDC party led by Thomas. As a matter of fact, it was like a revolution to see all the old political enemies, who fought against each other during the Gairy and Bishop eras, united together to bring down the NNP government.

In the 2003 general election, the NDC under Thomas’s leadership won 7 seats, while the ruling NNP won 8 seats. And in the 2008 election, the NDC defeated the NNP in a landslide victory. The NDC won 11 seats and the NNP 4 seats. With that victory Tillman Thomas became the prime minister, with Nazim Burke and Peter David as vibrant members of parliament and government ministers

Unfortunately, the NDC party was not united. Conflicts between Peter David and Tillman Thomas became public. As the conflict escalated, Burke stood on the side of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas and, in the highlight of political melee, David and his rebel faction, including female member of parliament Glynis Roberts, were defeated and they were kicked out of government. The NDC government did not last the maximum five-year term.

Other members of parliament, such as Michael Church and Karl Hood, had some differences with the Tillman Thomas style of leadership as they claimed. Thomas was forced to dissolve parliament, when the probate period ended. Another general election was held in 2013 and the Keith Mitchell NNP party won all the 15 seats for the second time in Grenada’s history.

Personally, I think that something is really wrong within the NDC as a political organisation. I believe that those folks, who are at the top leadership of the party, are not connecting with the ordinary people. And even though they are highly educated university graduates with doctorates, master’s and bachelor’s degrees, it seems as though they lack that Grenadian cultural thing to understand the ways of life among the average citizens. And it could be possible that, because they are successful as professional people, they lost the human connection with ordinary citizens, whom they tend to look down on as lesser human beings.

Even though I do not know William Joseph and his political aspirations, it seems to me that the NDC is a sort of loose political organisation, where educated people lack the discipline to follow a leader.

With so many educated people within the organisation pushing their big heads full of academic ideas, whosoever becomes the new leader of the party will have to examine his/her ten fingers and study the roles those fingers play in day to day functions for us, as human beings, even though those fingers are different in length. If all our fingers were the same length, they would never be able to function properly and as human beings we would become physically handicapped.

Therefore, I believe that the NDC as a political organisation is academically handicapped, with too many educated people refusing to follow a leader.
 
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Comments:

Vincent Roberts:

With over 22,000 people voting for NDC and about 11,000 not voting, it is very presumptuous to say that NDC has not connected with the people.

The type of democracy practiced within the NDC is unusual in a society where political parties are usually ruled by a strong-man who leads till death. Look at the way politicians in the USA, the UK, and other mature democracies challenge each other for leadership and other positions within the same party. NDC may just be ahead of its time. While some are criticizing the open debates and challenges within the NDC, I suggest that we embrace the democracy.

Chester Humphrey:

I seldom agree with George but his comment about the NDC's failure to connect to working people is correct. The principal failure of Tillman Thomas has been his lack of understanding of the context and significance of the alliance with the progressive forces. None of the social democratic forces in post revolution Grenada has been able to win political power and keep it without that alliance. Tillman supplanted that understanding with religious fatalism.

MARTIN FLETCHER:

IT IS UNFORTUNATE , THAT THIS ISLAND HAVE TO MANY EDUCATED FOOLS.WHERE A MA AND A BA ONLY MEANS MOTHER ASS AND BIG ASS. AND NOT WHAT IT SUPPOSE TO MEAN. SOME OF THESE PEOPLE ARE SUFFERING FROM SELF IMPORTANCE. HOW CAN MIND BE WASTED AND TIME IS WASTED WHEN THE MIND Can`t cultivate humility and sacrifice. FROM GAIRU GANG STARISM OF MONGOOSE POLITIC TO BISHOP RUTHLESSNESS AND ADVANCE GANG STARISISM. GEORGE BRIZAN PUT ECONOMIC IN PROSPECTIVE WITH DIFIANCE TO IMF. WANTING TO BE AS DR ERIC WILLIAM AND EVEN EXIT IN THE VERY SAME WAY WILLIAM DID . STILL CAN CLAIM HE DID A LITTLE GOOD BEFORE HE WENT.TILMAN COULD NOT HAVE ACHIVED MUCH WITH THE SORT OF CARBINET OF SABOTAGES HE HAD SO EVEN WITH HIS GOOD HEART TOMANY DUST IN HIS RICE. BACK TO SQUARE ONE. KITH MITCHELL , SEEM TO HAVE SOME GOOD INTENTION TO LEAVE A LEGACY BUT IT S UNFORTUNATE THAT HIS MATHS JUST DO NOT ADD UP RIGHT. WITHA POPULATION OF 110,000 AND A NATIONAL DEBT OF $1.5 BILLION WE SHOULD MAKE EVERY GRENADIAN VERY RICH.MAY IF HE GO IN TO OIL WE MIGHT MAKE SENCE TO ERASE THE DEBT BUT WITH SOME TAXES TO PAY WE FOR EVERY WOULD BE OWING SOME BODY FOR THE NEXT 200 GENERATION TO COME.

IF THE DEBT CANT BE A STRONG POLITICAL CONCERN AND THE SERVIVAL OF THE NATION IN THAT CONTEXT. SOME THING WRONG. WITH ALL THIS PARTY THIS AND THAT JUST WOULD COMPOUND THE PROBLEM. IT IS APPERS , THAT GRENADIAN WAS MORE PROGRESSIVE IN THE DAYS OF JUST BLAZE AND GARY ONLY TWO PARTY.

LETUS TAKE A LITTLE WHILE AND SEE SOME THING. WE WAS MADE TO BELIEVED THAT AMERICAN CAME TO SAVE US FROM OUR SELVES. WELL THAT SEEMINGLY , MORE LOOK TRUE NOW, WHERE WHOSOEVER WOULD SAVE US THIS TIME WITH THE CRAZINESS OF MORE PARTIES THAN CITIZEN.

WHERE THE GLOBE IS LOOKING FOR CLEAN AND SAFE WATER WE SHOULD LOOK TO WATER AS A MEANS OF EXPORT AND GET IN THE CURRENCY WE BADLY NEEDED TO SAVE OUR SELVES.

LASTLY, LOOK AT THIS : TO EVERY US DALLOR THAT COMES TO THE CARIBBEAN ONLY 5CENT REMAINS. WHAT CAN WE DO WITH 5 CENT.SO ALL THE SMART GUYS SHOULD START FROM THERE.

grenadianclass:

Comrade Chester Humphrey if the NDC can attract you as a card holding member , the executive of your union TAWU and the thousand of workers then it is a contradiction for you to agree with George when he say that the NDC can't connect with ordinary people.

Are you saying that the thousands of members of your union who supports and are attracted to the NDC are not ordinary people? Is this the reason why you have advocated for and is supporting the HEAVY TAX MEASURES of Keith Mitchell and the NNP ? Have these ordinary workers become ' ARISTOCRATS ' OVERNIGHT. The workers realised that that you joined the circle of the ARISTOCRATS , however they want you to know that they are still ordinary people and would become even more ORDINARY at the end of January when they will have to pay additional TAXES.

The General Secretary of any political organisation is the one responsible for the party to be grounded in the bowels of the people. I can remember Selwyn Stranchan as minister of mobilisation vividly for his skill in getting the various mass organisation including the pioneers functional and extremely active. A General Secretary is like a minister of mobilisation in a party. Your buddy and student Peter David was the General Secretary in the NDC for almost a decade. His role was to ensure that the party is well grounded n the bowels of the people. He tried , however he failed to solidify and consolidate the gains after the elections of 2008. In collusion with his teacher, he tried to consolidate himself resulting in a crash landing. Are you now accepting the fact that your student failed to do the job that you taught him to do by agreeing with Hudson that the NDC isn't connecting with ordinary people ? Was this a failure on your path or a deliberate act as part of a grand plot ?

You also mentioned that no political organisation post revolution has been able to gain political power and keep it for any length of time without forming an alliance with the progressive. It is true? The so call progressive fought Keith Mitchell and the NNP for years. Keith govern like a dictator . The so call progressive were his biggest nemesis. There was no major alliance then. Keith used the Unions to plot against Herbert Blaize to get political power and when he got the power he wanted he unceremoniously ' dump them '. Comrade Chess how can you forget your history so conveniently? For thirteen year there were no alliance between keith and any progressive. Keith attempted to destroy the progressive by brute force. The progressive then found a voice within the NDC and together their were able to get rid of Keith in 2008, only for the same so call progressive to bring him back into office in 2013.

You may be subtly sending a message to Keith Mitchell again that he either co-operate with your progressives or face insurrection within his own party where your progressive are not planning and plotting to form a one party state. I can see disaster looming on the horizon when the roaster have to come home to roost. The progressives are not job and it is well known that their patience are thin. Four and a half years in the REVOLUTION , DISASTER AND ANOTHER FOUR AND A HALF IN THE NDC MORE DISASTER. One wonders what the next four and a half years will bring if it meet to all that.

The progressives have Keith Mitchell properly 'fenced in ' a their cage. The country is waiting patiently to see what would happened if and when he decides to come out of the ' progressive cage'. As Chess said no political organisation is able to hold power for long without an alliance with the progressive. A very dramatic statement from the ideological leader of the so call progressive.

Regarding Comrade Humphrey statement about Tillman Thomas , he may not be a top notch politician however he is grounded in certain principles. Chess knew these principles from day one since Tilly was jailed by the progressive. He forgave his jailers and decided to work along with them to get rid of Keith Mitchell and the NNP the team responsible for taking Grenada down a path of destruction. The progressive turned around and betrayed him, joining forces with the same evil they fought so vehemently against . The deceit, deception , hypocrisy and contradictions.

The progressive gave Tillman Thomas hell , now their are in bed with Keith Mitchell their are like 'political and economic slave' but only time will tell what will happen next. Disaster looms on the horizon.

Having many academics in a political organisation don't necessarily have to create a problem. People are free in my view to put themselves up for leadership of the organisation in which they are a member. Normally the constitution gives them that right. Political maturity should dictate that if you enter into a race and lose then you just have to pit up the pieces work along with the person who is elected and try again when the time is right. Our small mindedness and slavish mentality teachers use to be subservient. We shouldn't be competitive . Follow the orders of massa . This is pure BS. Every human being should be free to aspire to meet their true potential. The Milliband brothers in England when up against each other for leader of the labour party. Did the English see this as infighting .It will take some time but eventually people would come to see politics for what it is.

The NNP is a rubber stamp political organisation with one ' MASSA'. No one can dear challenge massa ,if they do they will be exterminated. For this and other reasons the NNP has been able to maintain political power for a long time, however the country and its people are the LOSERS. Some individual turn into MILLIONAIRES as a result of the NNP brand of politics will the entire country has become POORER and will continue to steer poverty in the eye in the future.This is however what the progressives are supporting.. Progressives supporting dictatorship and regression. The irony of Grenadian politics.

Guerrillas when their are on the verge of defeat of weaken in an effort to survive occasionally strike a deal with the government who they fought against for decades. This seems to be the scenario playing out with the progressives and the NNP. The progressive though like the Guerrillas are already well trained and they can make a deadly strike at any time.

NDC will continue to mature as a politically democratic organisaton. There are more positives than negatives in been a party blessed with brilliance. The country will be better off if it is govern by people of intelligence. What needs to happen is for these people to become politically mature and sarvvy realising that the party shall have a leader and whosoever the leader happen to be they should work with that leader in the best interest of the country, party and self.

Eric Gairy was overthrown, Maurice Bishop was assassinated, Herbert Blaize betrayed and died from political stress, Nicholas Braithwaite resigned, Ben Jones and George Brizan voted out, Alexis and Coard political careers ended in demise , Tilman Thomas betrayed, voted out and peacefully resigned. Who is next. Keith Mitchell has to know that his turn is next like it or not. He has a choice when the time comes .Either resign peacefully , be voted out or put up a fight and suffer his fate. Chester Humphrey has already put Mitchell on notice. Disaster looms on the Horizon !!!!!

Hudson George:

I am not denying that over 22,000 voters cast their vote for the NDC in the 2013 election. However, my argument is that the NDC political and moral values do not attract swing voters, who are looking for a political party that accepts new values. Therefore, when swing voters cast their vote for the NDC in an election, statistics shows the next election the swing voters refused to vote for the NDC for a second term. And the main reason why swing voters get fed up with the NDC politicians so quick is because those politicians cannot connect with the people and try to modify it organisation.

The NDC is like the old GNP party. If we go back to the statistics record and see how voters cast their votes between GULP and GNP, it is easy for us to see that GNP always get a lot of votes similar to the NDC, but were not enough to defeat GULP.

As a matter of fact, the GNP became a dormant party during GULP era, until the NJM took over the role of as a vibrant opposition. Blaize and his GNP followers were contented just to be GNPites and never tried to figure out, why they were not able to defeat GULP.

The democracy must the uphold. Yes we must embrace democracy, but who is the “WE.” ? Is it the people and the politicians, or the people and not the politicians?

If the time is now, to elect new leadership for the NDC party and we as citizens are hearing and seeing the party officials quarreling openly in public against each other. It is obvious that something is not right. On the television media , we are hearing the comments made by Phinsley St. Louis and William Joseph, so it is very important, for us on the outside to give our opinion about the situation. No one can deny the fact, that the NDC is a loose political organisation.

As for saying that Mr. Brizan was a successful politician, we need to show political evidence to prove his performance during his time in government. However, if we are genuine, we cannot make that bold claim, because Mr. Brizan did not have a very long political career as a government parliamentarian. And even though he was an elected member of parliament for many years, most of the years were as an opposition MP.

Additionally, if the NDC was a stable political organisation, the present transition that is going on, from one leader to another leader will not create so much melee and mistrust among top officials. I personally, think that whosever become the leader, will have to make some adjustment and try to bring new people with new ideas, in line with the new younger generation that make up the majority of the population.

Politicians suppose to sell themselves to the people. They cannot expect to sit back quietly and believe that the people will be satisfy with their political role.



grenadianclass:

Hudson what you are saying now is something quite different from the essence of your article. If you are now saying that the NDC is a loose political organisation then I would assume that you would say the say thing about the NNP. Hear what the fundamental difference between the NNP and the NDC is that the NDC is a democratic organisation while the NNP is an authocratic one. I am making this point at the leadership level. This current NNP is Keith Mitchell Party. He finances the party from his own wealth and so he has virtually monopolized the party. The NNP is a MONOPOLY, owned and finance by Keith Mitchell. NDC on the other hand is a democratic organisation with no one man having the wealth to run the party and so any leader depends on the entire organisation to run it. It would be very interesting to see what would become of the NNP post Keith Mitchell. Some are already saying NNP will become the next GULP. I would agree with you that the nect leader of the NDC will have to work especially among the youths. What Nazim will bring to the NDC is substance , not a lifestyle wearing skinny jeans and tight fitted t- shirts. He will show the young people an alternative to the materialism of the Mitchell and the NNP. He is able to dress like the youths but the same youth under his administration can't afford to by an underwear.

Some folks just like to hear themselves. The folks who go on TV and Radio to express their views about the leadership has a right to do so but they has n't presented any credible alternative to Burke in a substantive way. The fact is though whosoever they want that person is still a member of the NDC and may have to rely on Burke for support.February 2nd will decide . Those who want to leave will leave , those who want to stay will stay. Whosoever the leader is will have to build their organisation from the bottom up either way, so now is the right time to start. The elections is four years away.


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