Grenada’s ruling NDC party has a long history of leadership struggles, even though it is well known that the party was basically founded by former Prime Minister George Brizan. The party was formed after George Brizan, Dr Francis Alexis and Tillman Thomas defected from Herbert Blaize government and although, the vast majority of Grenadians saw Brizan as the leader of the party, yet he had to deal with inside opposition from Dr Francis Alexis, who had a small following among some NDC supporters.
Brizan never allowed the power struggle between him and Dr Alexis to escalate into the public, so he made Nicholas Braithwaite, who was also a former interim prime minister after the US invasion, the front person of the party in order to please a wider section of the Grenadian population. And when the NDC defeated Herbert Blaize’s successor Ben Jones in the general election and formed the new government, Braithwaite became the prime minister while Brizan stayed in the shadows. Yet still there was the power struggle between Alexis and Brizan in terms of who would succeed Braithwaite, the elder statesman.
In the final analysis, Dr Alexis jumped ship a couple of years after and formed his own political party, when he realised that Brizan became the strong man within the party after Braithwaite stepped aside and Brizan became the new prime minister, and leader of the party. Unfortunately, Dr Alexis did not make a wise move. Up to this day his political future is still in limbo, with his DLP political organisation that seems to be dying a slow death among the voting population.
Brizan, as a politician, educator, economist and historian, seems to be a sort of coward to some extent. He was never an aggressive politician, even though he has written some of the best scholarly books about Grenada’s history from the day the European colonised the Tri islands state until our present era of independence. Some of his supporters still respect him as a man of vision, while others think he should have taken full responsibility for the NDC party from day one, rather than played second role to Nicholas Braithwaite.
Brizan’s political future declined with his party, when Keith Mitchell’s NNP party defeated the NDC in three consecutive general elections. Brizan finally resigned from active politics and the party was in a sort of disarray. The only hope left for the party was to inject new political blood into the organisation, and under the new leadership of Tillman Thomas, the NDC brought in members of a political movement that has a long history of being clannish, idealistic, dogmatic and ruthless. The new group of political characters are some of the core members of a hard line leftist faction that had ruled supreme during the period of the People’s Revolutionary government era.
With the help of that leftist movement and some citizens who wanted a political change from the NNP government’s 13 years rule, the Grenadian voters gave the new organised NDC party a landslide victory over Mitchell’s NNP in 2008 general election. Since the NDC came into office they seem to be having some serious problems functioning as a cohesive political organisation. There is infighting among the newcomers for future leadership role, if or when Thomas decides to quit as leader. There is also a conspiracy by a particular rebel faction to dethrone Thomas within the course of the party’s term in office as government.
Presently, it appears as though the vast majority of those left wing idealists within the NDC organisation have never changed their political aspirations, and it seems as though they are out to give Prime Minister Tillman Thomas a very hard time, because it seems as though he cannot really control them, based on the fact that he did not singlehandedly pick candidates whom he trusted to contest seats in parliament. The mistake Mr Thomas made was he allowed the left wing faction to selected the candidates, therefore he is presently isolated and finds himself in a corner fighting for his political survival
Maybe if Tillman Thomas had listened to some citizens who were sceptical of the NDC coalition, he would have been able to prepare himself better to face the inevitable infighting that is now affecting his leadership. But then again, most likely Mr Thomas has his own political aspirations and he also has a clique of followers who don’t seem to understand that Grenada has evolved past the old colonial era of plantation culture politics. Presently, Prime Minister Thomas’s opponents within his organisation are using his weakness of lacking new vision to capitalise and seize power from him.
If Mr Thomas is a democrat as he claims, he should have tried to encourage more media freedom for all citizens to express their opinions. Journalists who are loyal to the NDC government are using their media outlets to promote the party, government and their individual favourite MPs personal interest, rather than the people’s interest. Trade union leaders, who have a long history of being anti liberal, are dominating the media airwaves, while the common citizens are given one and two minutes to give their opinion on radio and television talk-shows.
At this present moment of Grenada history, all conscious citizens of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique must be asking themselves, what will happen in the future if Tillman Thomas falls victim to the rebel faction within his own political organisation. Some hypocritical supporters of Mr Thomas, who praised him as a saviour when the NDC party came into power in July 2008, are either silent or playing an active role planning how to replace him as prime minister and to install their favourite clan leader.
In conclusion, it appears as though Prime Minister Tillman Thomas is not up to date with the scheme of things within the Grenadian society, and he must take some blame for that social negligence as his fault. However, as a citizen of Grenada, Mr Thomas is supposed to interact more effectively within the general population and have a team of trusted friends who are grounded and understand the social fabric of Grenadian society.
Grenada’s political culture needs leaders who are grounded. And even though Prime Minister Thomas is decent human being, unfortunately, he just cannot see that he is lacking some simple basic things that could make him a more effective leader.
Mr Thomas must stop looking towards church leaders to help him rule Grenada. His basic duty is to give the people democratic freedom, rather than keep talking about democracy. Basically his version of democracy, transparency and good governance are limited to build a modern day society and, if he continues that way, the rebels within his political organisation will get the upper hand and dethrone him sooner or later.
If they succeed, he will be responsible for whatever happens to Grenada in the future. History will judge him as the politician who sold Grenada’s birthright to a group of people he was supposed to have a better idea about.