Random Thoughts
July 22, 2022
The fight – Gearing up for the next title bout

Imagine a boxing match between the undefeated and undisputed light heavyweight champion – ULP, in one corner, and in the other, a contender, desperate to win back the championship belt after 21 years on the ropes.

Bearing this analogy in mind, I see both weaknesses and strengths in the two ageing pugilists. Despite its braggadocio, ULP is not the super political party it claims to be. There are structural issues that it needs to resolve. These will not be addressed by the election of a deputy leader. Most of its representatives have been too distant from their constituents, who unfortunately are not necessarily satisfied with the alternatives. In the meanwhile, and as it has been for a long time, all roads lead to Gonsalves.

NDP’s recurring errors and mistaken belief

In the meanwhile, the NDP continues to fight, on the protracted mistaken belief that the early shouting of the crowd is all that is required to make them victorious in a bruising 15- round encounter.

The NDP misread the impact of the 2009 Referendum on the 2010 general elections. They also lit their stove on the notion that early scandals concerning its leader would have put the ULP down for the count. It didn’t happen. They also argued a case of election skullduggery, with neither evidence nor logic.

Election after election, round after round, NDP kept punching at air. And when they advanced policies that could have given them currency, they pulled back, dropped their guard and started babbling like punch-drunk fighters – China policy, CBI programme, linking the Garifuna peoples, the blue economy, etc. They allowed the ULP to beat them down and refused to take their blows ‘like a big man’.

NDP’s jab is weak and hardly softens even an ageing ULP leadership that is so ultra-sensitive these days. Dr Friday does not convey the impression that he has been a seasoned fighter – though he has been in this business for more than two decades. He has before him, a sizeable gut at which to strike, but instead seeks to aim for the head of an artful dodger, accustomed to doing the ‘bob and weave’. What about the upper cut to knock the wind out of the ULP’s sails?

Somehow, the opportunities to put Gonsalves down for the count (no violence intended nor encouraged) seem to evade Friday. The Champion made several errors in dealing with the Covid pandemic from early remarks on March 14, 2020 at Dorsetshire Hill, to dealing with the teachers who refused to take the jab. NDP railed about it yet, presidents Boucher and Robinson were the ones to take the lead.

We recall that Prime Minister Gonsalves repeatedly said that it was all about “jobs and jabs” –his priority focus. As it turned out, a new meaning was spun. The message swung to be, “if you don’t take the jab, I take your job”. The obdurate public servants who ended up on the breadline, have more than a few sympathisers. But it never seemed that Dr Friday was in the vanguard of fighting for their cause and keeping it topical, whether Monday fell on a Tuesday or indeed – a Thursday on a Friday.

Dr Friday’s Poor Choice of Media

Dr Friday has to remember that Nice Radio has a listening audience that is relatively paltry, and made up of the NDP diehards. Yet, he is afraid to come out of his corner and to take his fight to We FM, Extreme, Boom and to other media. Star FM has no advantage in listenership – in fact, it has less than Nice Radio. But we hear Dr Gonsalves on a Sunday on We FM, NBC radio on a Wednesday morning, interspersed with chats on Boom, Hot FM and Extreme radio.

Moreover, every news day, he appears in at least one news headline.

In his training, the opposition leader showed his physical attributes by walking from Fitzhughes into Kingstown and then up the Windward coast. Training for a fight is meaningless if it is a solitary walk around this small- island block. Does this mean that he doesn’t have the staying power? The comrade boasts about his prowess all the time. He has evidence to back him up on this. He doesn’t necessarily need to scale Belle Isle hill, or even Byera for that matter. If you jabbing, Dr Friday, jab harder…and aim for the gut, but stay above the belt!

Is Dr Gonsalves sub-consciously dropping his guard?

I am hearing too often that Dr Gonsalves is making more mistakes since 2020. This is partly so, because of his promotion of a Skinny Fabulous refrain, “This Country is mine….”

As the paramount leader, he pursues policies based on what he thinks is good. Nothing is wrong with that, inherently. But he comes across as saying, what is good for Gonsalves is good by the people. If the people do not concur, by some reasonable and reasoned sampling of their views, Dr Friday is obliged to lead the resistance and fight for a ‘cause that needs assistance’. He needs to use better tools when he resists. It is not manifestly clear how much he assists.

Meanwhile, the ageing pugilist has Nicolas Maduro, Daniel Ortega and Miguel Diaz-Canel as his trainer, cut-man and boxing strategist. At a glance, it seems as if the Comrade is being rewarded for bellowing his horn on their behalf in the hemisphere, like a Sappy Evans, promoting a telecoms company or a football match at Arnos Vale.

If there is value in securing assistance from Nicaragua, our minister of Foreign Affairs should use more astute diplomacy in getting it. If it is about provocatively demonstrating solidarity with an old leftist buddy who has lost credibility, he should exercise care with a mission that may be tantamount to an awkward left hook.

In boxing, success is not only about strength but also about timing. By the way, how has Dr Friday responded to this recent Gonsalves foray to Nicaragua I really don’t know. I only listen to Nice Radio late on Saturday mornings.