Eustace accuses Sir James of being acolyte of ULP
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November 29, 2013
Eustace accuses Sir James of being acolyte of ULP

Sir James Mitchell is willing to sit down with New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Arnhim Eustace for them to work out their differences.{{more}}

SEARCHLIGHT interviewed Mitchell on Wednesday, following the publication by Eustace, of an open letter (see full text of letter in Our Readers Opinion), in which Eustace accused Mitchell of being an acolyte of the Unity Labour Party (ULP) and criticized him for the negative comments he made about the party earlier this week.

Mitchell said while he accepted that his public bickering with Eustace hurts the party, he said it grieves him when his party does not accept his advice. He is also peeved by what he views as the ingratitude shown to him and other members of the NDP by some members of the present executive.

“One of the most important things in life is gratitude, to be able to say thanks…. Ingratitude will not get you anywhere and is not a question just of the attitude of the executive to me, it is the attitude of some of the executive to other key supporters of the Party,” he said.

Mitchell, who founded the NDP on December 3, 1975, said it was while he was prime minister that he created the structure which allows the leader of the opposition to receive financing for an office, secretary and research officer.

“If I did not do those things, I do not think the NDP would be doing very well.”

He reflected on the construction of the party headquarters at Murray Road.

“… without me, it would not have been built.”

The former prime minister said through his efforts, the land was purchased, and the walls and roof of the building constructed. He said on the inside of the building, he completed two storeys and left the completion of the third storey up to the present party leaders.

“Up to now they haven’t been able to do that.”

“I have done what I can to build the basic structures of the party and I look at my party as one of my children and I care for it and it grieves me when I see that they are not appreciative of my advice,” Mitchell, now 82 said.

He denied accusations made by Eustace on Wednesday that he (Mitchell) is an acolyte of the ULP and does not criticize that party, saying that he is still very pre-occupied with the legal costs of the Ottley Hall Marina enquiry.

The Ottley Hall Marina was built in 1993 while Mitchell was prime minister and was later valued at between $3.5 million and $7 million, but left the nation with a debt of $200 million. A Commission of Inquiry, which commenced on April 28, 2003, was set up to investigate what went wrong.

“I cannot be happy with the ULP that has caused me so much grief and so much personal distress. I am still concerned about the [NDP] and I would like to see the party in government. That is my earnest wish and I would like to ensure that they move in that direction,” he told SEARCHLIGHT.

He said he has publicly criticised the ULP government’s position on airport development, but similarly, he is not satisfied that his party has a coherent position on airport development either.

“I was disappointed in the convention that they did not deal with either airports or airlines and these are some of the urgent issues and if tourism is going to be the main thrust forward, the most important issue that we have to address really is to deal with tourism and communications to St. Vincent,” he said.

The veteran politician denied Eustace’s claim that he (Mitchell) had said that over the years, the NDP had been “slumping in the vote”.

“I was not referring to the numbers. I simply referred to the percentage of the votes and the importance of the swing votes. I am very concerned that we should attract the swing votes and we must have all hands on deck. We can’t go about trying to win without attracting the swing votes with policies and strategy.

“It is all very well to be charging along with your Party position, but you have to every now and again check to see how the public opinion is going and I know that the ULP is doing polls from time to time and we are not?” he stated.

The party founder questioned who are the strategists of the NDP, saying in his time, there were two strategists, he and Parnell Campbell QC.

“I don’t know who they have there now…”

Despite being critized by Eustace, Mitchell maintains that it was inconsistent for feature speaker at the NDP convention Luzette King to hold up her ULP party card.

“I welcome everybody, but how could you be saying that you are still a member of the ULP and you are addressing a covention [of the NDP]? I find that inconsistent. You have got to make a statement that I am no longer supporting the ULP. You must say so categorically! I want an unambigious statement and demonstration that you are no longer supportive of them. And nobody questioned it! I find that politically naive that no one questioned that,” he said.

Expressing his love for his party and St Vincent and the Grenadines, Mitchell said he is willing to sit down with Eustace, and will always be available to the NDP, and to the people of St Vincent, “to give my advice on what I think is the best way forward for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”