“If the only prayer you say in your entire life was thank you it would have been enough.” -- Meister Eckhart
“God give you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say thank you?” -- William A Ward
“Peace comes from within, don’t look without for it.” -- Buddha: the enlightened one
Although I would like to, I cannot honestly say that Ralph Gonsalves doesn’t love St Vincent and the Grenadines and Vincentians, but what I can confidently say, however, is PM Gonsalves is a very irresponsible steward, who does not understand the principles of management, economics and the value of providing for the future. This is so because the guy does not know what it’s like to go hungry and have to put up some of your food, just to ensure you have something to eat the following day.
I can never question Mr Arnhim Eustace’s love for this country and its people; just listen to the passion in his voice when he see things going wrong and he is powerless to correct it; that is a passion of love frustrated. In the same breath, neither will I ever question Sir James Mitchell’s love for St Vincent and the Grenadines and its people. Judging from the way Sir James Mitchell is being treated by the members of the party he spent his life building, I have concluded that some NDP supporters have allowed the length of time in the political wilderness to tremendously affect their judgment, and in some cases they are suffering from mild to severe paranoia.
The desperation that is exhibited by some NDP supporters to reclaim the seat of government has deeply affected their ability to view things objectively and to put them into perspective. This is evident to the point where any action or utterance taken or expressed by any person that appears to aid Gonsalves’ administration, then that person is shot down and ostracized without first examining whether that person is really supporting Gonsalves; neither do they take the time to measure the benefit that such action and or utterance will have on the country. We must never forget that the welfare of St Vincent and the Grenadines and Vincentians must always take precedence over any individual, group and or organization, be it political or other.
It is about time, Vincentians come to realize that St Vincent and the Grenadines is more important than any individual or a political party; it must be understood that the future of our country is bigger than Ralph Gonsalves and the ULP; it is also bigger than Arnhim Eustace and the NDP. This is a principle that Arnhim Eustace has been echoing and had formed the basis on which he operates.
I will like to believe there is no one in St Vincent and the Grenadines who wants to see the back of Ralph E. Gonsalves as it relates to the administration of the affairs of the state of St Vincent and the Grenadines more than I do. Similarly, I don’t think there is anyone who has a level of respect, love and admiration for Mr Arnhim Eustace than I do; as a matter of fact, sometimes I have to remind myself that Arnhim Eustace is not my father.
There is another point I must make before I proceed any further. Although Sir James Mitchell and I are not friends and I cannot remember ever having a conversation with this honored gentleman, I can never forget that Sir James Mitchell is an elder statesman, who for many years has struggled and endured many blows in the political wilderness.
As a child, I could vividly remember my deceased mother, Marjorie Palmer, speaking of Sir James Mitchell with such admiration for his efforts in keeping the government in check when he was a member of the opposition. I could also remember my father, Hamilton Palmer, being disgusted at Sir James for being such a pain in the ass of old Labour (the St Vincent Labour Party), with whom he (my father) was closely associated. However, in the same breath, my father would rag (heckle) the Hon. Hudson Tannis, the Hon. Premier and Prime Minister: Milton Cato and the other ministers who frequented his shop, for allowing the “Bequia-man” to beat them up in the house of parliament.
I cannot and will not forget, it was Sir James’ vision and solo effort that created this political party, the NDP, not just to contest and win a general election but to transform the political party he started, built and established into an institution, and he set the wheels in motion when he acquired the land and started a party headquarters: the beautiful NDP headquarters in Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines.
It was Sir James Mitchell’s vision to build the Ottley Hall Marina with the hope of making the beautiful unspoilt Grenadines the Mecca of international and all year round yachting, a plan that if successful would have impacted the economy and the tourism in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Unfortunately, Mitchell in his rush to get this project off the ground, struck a deal with some international crooks, who outmaneuvered him (Mitchell) and took Vincentians for a very expensive ride. It was Sir James’ dream realized when the container port at Camden Park became a reality. He was hoping that commerce will be so developed that port Kingstown would have been incapable of handling the quality and the volume of imports and export.
It was Sir James Mitchell’s idea to build a cruse ship port with the hope of injecting new life in the then dwindling tourist industry and in the process creating a readily available market for the locally produced food, crafts, arts, etc. It was James Mitchell’s plans, to inject new life into our agriculture industry, when he secured funding for agricultural development funds for the irrigation program and for the diversification program, etc. a large portion (monies) of which had to be returned by the UK because the funds were being misused by the Ralph Gonsalves administration. It was the same James Mitchell who secured funding and caused the New Kingstown vegetable market to be built, providing a place where our farmers, huskers and other traders could have gone to trade on different level, thus injecting new financial life into the economy.
Let us not forget it was James Mitchell’s idea and efforts to construct the new Kingstown Fish market and a range of subsidiary fisheries facilities across the country; he also introduced trawler fishing to this country, this scheme would have maximized the number of heads and poundage of fish caught, while reducing the amount of petrol and other resources used; thus maximizing the profitability of the fisher folks in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
It was under Sir James Mitchell’s leadership, that we saw the St Vincent and the Grenadines government had a rainy day fund named ‘The consolidated fund’, which was just under a billion dollars that was stashed away for wet days. This fund was squandered by Ralph Gonsalves, who spend the money like a crack-head, who is helpless to the call of his addiction.
It is said that hindsight is 20/20. When these things were happening in real time, we were seeing these project in isolation, while Sir James were seeing an interconnecting network that would have worked together to simultaneously bring growth to our economy, increase the GDP, create employment, improve the local industries, boost our exports and increase the standard of living for all Vincentian.
Unfortunately, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves could not see the connectivity and the usefulness of all these project, most of which were underutilized by Ralph Gonsalves who failed to do what any smart leader would have done: build on what was there, but instead he ignored most of these projects, some of which he allow to fall into disrepair. I will say without reservation that the value of Sir James Mitchell’s contribution to the development of St Vincent and the Grenadines cannot be measured.
One of PM James Mitchell’s downfalls was his inability or refusal to properly communicate his plans and ideas and it was that inability or refusal that led to his political loss; then again, most Vincentians, the author of this piece included, were not strategically advanced enough to have understood the depth of these plans even if we were shown the blueprints. I have learned that everything Sir James said has to be carefully analyzed, this is so because Sir James’ words carry a lot of political depth and cannot be viewed on the surface as we do Gonsalves’ words.
We must never forget that this iconic political guru put his confidence in another extremely talented and iconic man, the man who was responsible for formulating the economic plans for St Vincent and the Grenadines: Mr Arnhim Eustace.
When James Mitchell handed over the cocoa production project to the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines Mitchell was not throwing his support behind Ralph Gonsalves and his ULP government, however he was throwing his support behind St Vincent and the Grenadines. I know this principle is difficult for most party fanatics to understand but that is just the way it is. In similar manner, when Sir James expressed his opinion by saying that Arnhim Eustace should have asked Luzette King to tear up her ULP party card, Sir James Mitchell was not attacking Mr Eustace or Miss King, but he was looking at the visual and political impact such an act would have had, if Miss King tore up her party card right there during or at the end of her speech. Sir James Mitchell may have aged but he is still one of the greatest small island political strategists there is.
In closing, I will say to all Vincentians that Sir James Mitchell is still entitled to his opinion and his opinion should be respected regardless whether those opinions differ from ours. To the members of the New Democratic Party, I emplore you all, James Mitchell should be respected by the virtue of his accomplishment; just think of it, had it not been for his efforts, St Vincent and the Grenadines would not have been able to withstand the atrocious mismanagement of Ralph Gonsalves and his Unity Labour Party government. Primarily, if it was not for Sir James Mitchell, you would not have been in the position you are currently in, awaiting the opportunity to take up the reins of governance of this blessed county.
Sir James Fitz-Allan Mitchell is not only a political icon; he is an elder statesman and should be treated as such. Please remember the bible says ingratitude is worse than witchcraft.
Allan Grateful Palmer