Sir James says it’s probably a good thing he didn’t attend the convention
November 26, 2013
Sir James says it’s probably a good thing he didn’t attend the convention

Former Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Sir James Mitchell thinks that it is probably a good thing that he did not attend the convention of the party he founded last Sunday, as he would have caused a stir during the feature address.{{more}}

Sir James, who was absent, for the second consecutive time, from the annual convention of the New Democratic Party (NDP), told Tony Regisford of IKTV and Crab and Callaloo in an interview yesterday, that he did not turn up to the 37th annual convention because he does not feel he was wanted there, despite receiving an invitation.

He said that the party does not seem to have a strategy for moving forward, and put the blame squarely on the shoulder of the party’s current leader Arnhim Eustace, who he once again suggested should step aside.

“I received the invitation from [NDP general secretary] Allan Cruickshank…. I have not heard from Eustace and we have not communicated since the last elections.… I am no hypocrite and have no time for hypocrites, so until I am satisfied that my presence is genuinely appreciated, I will keep my silence,” Mitchell told Regisford in response to a question about why he did not attend.

Mitchell, however, pointed out that if he had been at the convention, he believes he would have caused a stir during the delivery of featured speaker Luzette King.

“…As for the other speaker, no disrespect, I would never want to disrespect the lady,… but I don’t really think that she advanced the cause of the party very much. She was marketing herself very well.

“And when I heard her announce and pull out her party card of the ULP and boasted that she is a card carrying member of the ULP, it’s a good thing that I wasn’t at the convention, because I would have immediately got up and asked her to tear up that ULP card and let me see that you are no hypocrite, that you are here with us.”

Mitchell also insists that he is not bitter, but rather worried, about the direction that the party that he founded is taking.

“What worries me is that the party does not seem to have a strategy to deal with swing voters….

“I have said that Mr Eustace should step aside, because to get, in my view, a leader that continues to have an image of losing. Losing does not attract swing votes and the party is not going to give us the results we want.

“It will be a disaster if next time around Mr Eustace loses his seat; we had a real struggle last time to make sure that he kept his seat.

“I wish the party all the very best, but I do not feel that we are trying to attract a broad section of Vincentians and bring in the kind of dynamic leadership that we really require.”

The former leader maintains that he loves his party, and is pleased that the party’s foundation is still intact.

When asked if he is still actively involved in politics, Sir James indicated that he is currently working along with the opposition party in St Lucia, and had worked with the current Prime Minister in Grenada.

He said although his body has retired, his brain is still active, and he is willing to impart knowledge to anyone who is willing to listen.

When asked about his opinion on the direction of the party based on the main speakers at Sunday’s convention, Sir James had some choice words.

“I heard Eustace inside his comfort zone talking about four points with regard to the economy, but I was absolutely alarmed that throughout the convention… I didn’t hear… “airport” and “airline”.

“I was alarmed that there was no reference to airport. It is as if the party is scared of the issue of airport and airline. I was worried about that in particular.”(JJ)