December 11, 2009
‘Organisation – key to Vote No win’


Political pundits are still analyzing the results of the November 25 referendum, but Sir James Mitchell, one of the ‘Vote No’ campaign’s driving forces, believes one important factor responsible for his team’s victory was structural organization.{{more}}

Sir James, this country’s longest serving Prime Minister, who has the distinction of leading his New Democratic Party (NDP) to win all 15 seats in 1989, said after he came out of retirement last September, he spent much of the time with his colleagues concentrating on structural organization and training ‘Vote No’ agents.

“It was hard going for me to be both doing that and training,” said the former Prime Minister who led this country from 1984 to 2000 when he stepped down.

In an exclusive interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday at the newspaper’s Lower Kingstown Park office, the 78-year-old said throughout the Referendum Campaign, he told the Vote No agents: “I going to teach all you how to win.”

“I worked hard in training for the election day,” said Sir James, noting that he personally undertook the task of training agents in 13 constituencies.

Vote No agents appeared very organized on Referendum Day equipped with gadgets such as laptop computers, cellular phones, as well as their Voters’ lists.

“They had to report to me twice a day during the election. On the day I had to get reports. We had a lawyer in each constituency except in the Southern Grenadines,” said Sir James, adding “we had a serious machine”.

He stated that attention was paid to detail and execution on the day.

“You’ve got to be organized,” the former Prime Minister mused.

“I am pleased with the outcome. I would have liked to get him (Prime Minister Gonsalves) under 40 per cent but he had too much money,” said Sir James.

Sir James told SEARCHLIGHT he is fascinated with the November 25 Referendum Results.

“In parliamentary terms, the Nos have it. The ‘Yeses’ have had it,” he said jokingly.

Sir James, however, noted he would not assume a referendum is the same as an election. Reasons put forward: Votes are for an idea in a referendum or against an idea. As compared to General Elections, where the electorate vote for a person.

Sir James said while the referendum results give a serious indication of the thinking of the people, he will not take it for granted.

“I fight every battle on its own. I do not rest on my laurels with any battle. I take on the next one with thoroughness and serious planning,” said Sir James.

What’s his next move?

Sir James responded by making it clear he intends to do his best in the upcoming General Elections.

“One, to make sure they don’t come back with this referendum,” he said, noting “I think winning the General Elections will be the definitive completion of this referendum exercise.”

He said personally, he does not oppose constitutional change.

“I was for constitutional change, but the changes that they made I did not approve,” said the veteran politician.

“They tried to do too much and got confused,” he said.

“All the things they wanted to accomplish could have been accomplished by strengthening of parliament…The agenda shifted in this constitution in my view towards maintaining a ULP government,” said Sir James.

“Anyway that’s behind us now. I ain’t think anybody will be brave enough to touch constitution.”

When asked if he thinks it can be brought before the people in the next 20 years, Sir James said: “We’ll be ready but they better make it simple. Don’t come with no complicated agenda. All those things they wanted to do like the Property Acquisition and all of those kinds of things that they wanted to do …can be done in Parliament.”