Sir James: It grieves me  that the [NDP] party is not in  government
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December 7, 2012

Sir James: It grieves me that the [NDP] party is not in government

The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) turned 37 on Wednesday, with its founder, Sir James Mitchell, saying it grieves him that the party is not in government.{{more}}

In late 2000, as the political tide ebbed away from the NDP — which came to office in 1984, — Sir James handed over the leadership of the party to now Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace, and retired from active politics ahead of the March 2001 polls.

The NDP lost that election three seats to the Unity Labour Party’s (ULP) 12 and repeated the results in 2005, before coming one seat shy of taking the reins of government in 2010.

Sir James campaigned for the opposition in those elections and for the NDP-led vote against the 2009 constitutional referendum, convincing the electorate to reject proposed changes to the Constitution.

“… I was glad to come out and work very hard in the referendum, do what I can for the party, try and help them along,” he said on the NDP’s “New Times” on NICE Radio on Wednesday.

“It grieves me that the party is not in government and it would grieve me to see the 40th anniversary come up and we are still in opposition,” he said.

The next general elections are due in 2015, and Sir James, who after the 2010 vote said that Eustace should step down, said he is alarmed by the attitude of the NDP leadership towards the elections.

“One of the things that alarms me is that it does not seem as though there is a sensitivity in the hierarchy of the party to understand that when the next election comes we start with zero seats.

“I hear from time to time people say ‘All we need is one more seat to form government.’ Nonsense! The moment you are back to the polls, everybody starts at zero. You have to work to keep what you have and you have to get more …

“It disturbs me, that attitude. Because it is war and you have to fight to get there. I would like to see us get there and so on, but we shouldn’t be thinking that simply we would get there by ULP falling down. You have to work very hard to win elections. It doesn’t fall in your lap,” he said.

He said the NDP has to have a clear approach for transition, “with a philosophy of we need all hands on deck.

“If you feel you going win and leave out people, that’s not the attitude. You have to have all hands on deck. And you got to work. Don’t think it is going to be easy, because the people who are in government, they will do what they have to do for them to continue to win,” he further stated.

Sir James said he has been “reading profusely”.

“[I] continue to read to keep my brain active,” said Sir James, who is 81 years old.

“I take my exercise to make sure my body is also active and I … watch my diet. I don’t eat too much and I have been keeping an eye on the cocoa project to see that it continues to move ahead,” he further said.

And this weekend, Sir James will travel to Grenada to hold talks with a former prime minister there, who is hoping to retake government next year.

“I’ve been invited by the Leader of the Opposition and former prime minister Keith Mitchell to come down and help them prepare their team for elections next year,” he said. (