Verbal war between founder leader and current head of NDP very unfortunate
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December 3, 2013
Verbal war between founder leader and current head of NDP very unfortunate

Tue Dec 03, 2013

by Oscar Ramjeet

It is not unusual for friends to have different views and it is a norm for politicians of rival parties to be at loggerheads, but it is certainly unusual for a former leader of a party to be at “war” with his successor, especially if he was responsible for placing him in office.{{more}}

I refer to the impasse between Sir James Mitchell, the founder leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) and Arnhim Eustace the current leader, which seems to be causing a stir in the membership of the party which has been in the Opposition for the past 12 years; and from reports, the rift between the two will adversely affect the party’s chances of regaining power from the governing Unity Labour Party (ULP).

Mitchell said on repeated occasions that he would like to see the party he founded bounce back to govern the country, but not under the leadership of the current head who he feels is a total failure and should step aside, because he does not have the ability to attract swing voters. On the other hand, Eustace did not mince words; he accused his predecessor of being an acolyte (follower or carrying the cross for Gonsalves’ ULP), and moreso described him as an anachronism (old fashioned and outdated). He was too harsh and some of the supporters would say ungrateful to the man who put him in the political limelight which he failed to maintain.

The exchange of harsh words is not at all in the interest of the NDP.

I do not think that it was prudent for the experienced three term former Prime Minister to rebuke his successor in public. No doubt the octogenerian is now annoyed with himself for handpicking the economist for the top post, and bypassing his faithful disciples like Allan Cruickshank, John Horne and Jerry Scott. I deliberately did not mention P.R. Campbell, who was his deputy for quite sometime, although the former Attorney General was the best person suited for the job.

He cannot now beat his chest for appointing Eustace his successor without the approval of his party executive, because he should know or ought to have known that the economist was not an experienced politician and most importantly not a “people’s person,” which is essential to be a politician, especially a leader. None of the front runners in the 1990s is now active and vying for leadership and it is difficult to find a suitable leader within the current crop of the opposition front benchers.

Like Eustace, none of them in Parliament has shown leadership qualities and I am wondering if someone from the “outside” could be identified. It would be a tremendous task to vote out Comrade Ralph at the next elections, especially if the airport project is completed before polling date. The NDP had a good chance at the last general elections which followed the failed ULP referendum, but they blew it.