Our Readers' Opinions
May 13, 2016
The NDP – The way forward?

by Anatol Leopold Scott

Many moons before the 2015 election, because of his uncanny bungling of the Garifuna project, I took the liberty of publicly calling for Mr Eustace to go. At that time, the Searchlight Newspaper mistakenly branded me as a NDP stalwart. I should like to clearly state here that I am not and have never been a stalwart of ANY political party in SVG.{{more}} I consider myself to be a nationalist with lifelong adherence to a Liberal way of political thinking. By that I mean that I do not follow, belong or subscribe to any one party in SVG. I am a ‘friend’ of them all and favour none. I think my way through all political situations, preferring always to be aware, as much as a private citizen is able to do so, of issues facing the nation. I voice my opinions thoughtfully, whether written or spoken, based on engagements and discussions, sometimes very heated, with individuals of all parties, and on research into matters of policy that are being discussed publicly.

 As a direct result of this way of thinking, three weeks before the last election, at a time when most NDP supporters were nonsensically predicting ridiculous winning numbers in favour of the NDP and while engaged in many discussions with mostly NDP stalwarts, up in the hills of Bridgetown, I made the shocking pronouncement that the ULP would win the election with a count of 8/7. Three days before election day, I raised the ante by predicting that Central Leeward will be the deciding constituency in the election. Since the election and especially as a result of the legal, but useless ongoing protest actions, in the news media and more so in private discussions, the calls for Mr Eustace to ‘go, step aside, or step down’ have come from many individuals including former Prime Minister, Sir James Mitchell, founder of the New Democratic Party in SVG. For good and substantial reasons, the callers have been growing increasingly strident. Mr. Eustace and the elected representatives of the NDP cannot continue to side step or ignore these voices. The democratic functions of an Opposition Party, especially in terms of presence and performance in Parliament where the party should be seen as a Government in waiting, are not being properly serviced by the current NDP leadership. This matter has to be dealt with.

   In order to vouchsafe and begin a discussion, I would like publicly to suggest a tentative way forward:

1.   Mr Eustace has lost four elections in a row. As a result, despite his being a good and well-meaning individual, there is a growing sentiment throughout the nation that he is politically inept and that he should step down forthwith as political leader and president of the party, thereby allowing the party executive to deal with the matter of who should be the new political leader and whether the political leader should also be president of the party. Before stepping down, Mr Eustace should also decide whether he will remain seated as a representative. If he so decides, taking into consideration his outstanding abilities in economic matters, the new leader should consider giving Mr Eustace full responsibility for discussions of national budget and related issues.

2.   The party has a deputy leader. Heaven forbid but if, at any moment, something should befall Mr Eustace, under normal circumstances, that individual would be the person who would take over his duties on an interim basis. Should Mr. Eustace decide to step down, the present deputy leader Mr Godwin Friday, a seemingly too quiet individual who remains a political mystery, especially to mainland Vincentians, should therefore take over as interim leader. As interim leader, it would be his responsibility to direct, quietly, but firmly, the political affairs of the party without much interference from any other aspiring representative. Whether he knows it or not, perhaps he is the only individual in the party who can bridge the divisive chasm that exists between Mr Eustace and Mr Mitchell. Perhaps he is the only individual who can begin to end the internal squabbles, bring about a reconciliation, and make the party a wholesome entity once again.

3.  Because there are already signs of possible leadership interest emanating from supporters of at least one other representative, Mr St Clair Leacock, there should be a time limit (perhaps 18 months) set for the length of time the interim leader would be in control of political matters. During that time, the party president should be preparing for the holding of a decisive convention where subscribed Party members, not the Executives acting alone, would vote publicly on who would be the new leader. During the period leading up to that convention, those individuals in or out of the current political system who are interested in becoming the next leader should be actively and respectfully, presenting themselves and their ideas to party members and the interested public in all constituencies.

4.  If this or a similar process is adopted, it would quickly usher in a gush of the ‘fresh air’ that is now desperately needed in the New Democratic Party and in the nation.