The latest news from Grenada about William Joseph’s resignation from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is not a big surprise to me. Whenever a political party has too many educated people vying for top leadership, it is expected that some members will resign, when changes are about to take place and their political interest is at stake. And with this NDC party, since it was formed, there is always some kind of contention about who should lead the party.
Even though this NDC party was formed by educated professionals such as George Brizan, Dr Francis Alexis and Tillman Thomas, it seems that something is always missing that can bring long lasting unity and discipline within the leadership.
When George Brizan, Dr Francis Alexis and Tillman Thomas broke away from the Herbert Blaize NNP government and formed the NDC party, they brought in Nicholas Brathwaithe in 1989 to lead the party during a party convention, because there was a conflict between Brizan and Alexis about who should be the party leader.
When the party won the election in 1990, Nicholas Brathwaithe became prime minister and Brizan and Alexis played the role as deputies, until Brathwaithe stepped aside and Brizan became the prime minister for a short period. In 1995, the NDC lost the general election to Dr Keith Mitchell’s NNP party.
However, the first open division within the NDC took place when Alexis challenged Brizan for the leadership of the party in a convention and Brizan defeated Alexis. The politically wounded Alexis went his own way after, and formed the People’s Labour Movement party, which never really attracted the Grenadian masses, until it faded away from the political scene.
Although Alexis’ PLM party was not able to attract voters in large numbers, the NDC under Brizan’s leadership became sort of dormant during its period as the main opposition. Mitchell’s NNP government won three consecutive general elections. The NDC suffered its worst political setback in the 1999 general election. All candidates lost their seats, including Brizan. The party almost became a nonfunctional after Brizan’s health was affected due to poor eyesight.
With Brizan suffering from poor health and no one within the organisation skillful and bold enough, or with the courage to bring in new people to join the party, Grenada almost became a one party state. Mitchell and his NNP government had no real threat to be scared, until Tillman Thomas became the new leader of the NDC party with his surprisingly new friends, who were once his worst enemies during the revolution. Some Grenadians who were fed up with the NNP government and wanted a political change became supporters of the rejuvenated NDC party led by Thomas. As a matter of fact, it was like a revolution to see all the old political enemies, who fought against each other during the Gairy and Bishop eras, united together to bring down the NNP government.
In the 2003 general election, the NDC under Thomas’s leadership won 7 seats, while the ruling NNP won 8 seats. And in the 2008 election, the NDC defeated the NNP in a landslide victory. The NDC won 11 seats and the NNP 4 seats. With that victory Tillman Thomas became the prime minister, with Nazim Burke and Peter David as vibrant members of parliament and government ministers
Unfortunately, the NDC party was not united. Conflicts between Peter David and Tillman Thomas became public. As the conflict escalated, Burke stood on the side of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas and, in the highlight of political melee, David and his rebel faction, including female member of parliament Glynis Roberts, were defeated and they were kicked out of government. The NDC government did not last the maximum five-year term.
Other members of parliament, such as Michael Church and Karl Hood, had some differences with the Tillman Thomas style of leadership as they claimed. Thomas was forced to dissolve parliament, when the probate period ended. Another general election was held in 2013 and the Keith Mitchell NNP party won all the 15 seats for the second time in Grenada’s history.
Personally, I think that something is really wrong within the NDC as a political organisation. I believe that those folks, who are at the top leadership of the party, are not connecting with the ordinary people. And even though they are highly educated university graduates with doctorates, master’s and bachelor’s degrees, it seems as though they lack that Grenadian cultural thing to understand the ways of life among the average citizens. And it could be possible that, because they are successful as professional people, they lost the human connection with ordinary citizens, whom they tend to look down on as lesser human beings.
Even though I do not know William Joseph and his political aspirations, it seems to me that the NDC is a sort of loose political organisation, where educated people lack the discipline to follow a leader.
With so many educated people within the organisation pushing their big heads full of academic ideas, whosoever becomes the new leader of the party will have to examine his/her ten fingers and study the roles those fingers play in day to day functions for us, as human beings, even though those fingers are different in length. If all our fingers were the same length, they would never be able to function properly and as human beings we would become physically handicapped.
Therefore, I believe that the NDC as a political organisation is academically handicapped, with too many educated people refusing to follow a leader.
Hudson George has a BA in Social Science from York University, Toronto, Canada. He has been writing since his early teenage years and now contributes letters and articles to a number of Caribbean newspapers.