The Grenadian people have now spoken for the second time in two years on the issue of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) becoming the island’s final appellate court instead of the London-based Privy Council.
The rejection once again by the electorate of the attempts by the ruling New National Party (NNP) government under Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has many lessons for us as a country.
THE NEW TODAY is convinced that the bill was defeated by voters from both side of the political divide – NNP and the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and others who are non-aligned but voted to send a clear message to the powers-that-be.
One of the most important lessons that came out from Tuesday’s referendum vote is that “the worst opposition is the masses” especially when arrogance is being exhibited by those who have been entrusted to look after their affairs.
The government and its agents once again made the fatal error and mistake of refusing to listen to the concerns of the people on the contents of the bill and choose a path of confrontation that resulted in the triumph of the “No Vote” side.
Another lesson that came from Tuesday’s referendum vote is that Dr. Mitchell was left badly battered and bruised politically from the rejection of the CCJ bill.
Prior to the vote, he made the boast that he did not campaign for the failed attempt in 2016 and it would be a different situation on November 6 as he would be out against opponents and giving full and strong support to the CCJ cause.
The Prime Minister must have been feeling very confident and got on high following his clean sweep of the polls on March 13 when he led the NNP in taking all 15 seats against Congress.
Dr. Mitchell did everything possible to secure the victory – bringing in two Prime Ministers (Mia Mottley of Barbados and (Roosvelt Skerrit of Dominica) to sell the CCJ along with former President of the court, Sir Denis Byron.
He even starved out the “No Vote” campaign of funding for their effort contrary to what has been reported to be done in Antigua by PM Gaston Browne who facilitated the opponents with finances from the public purse.
The “Green Machine” failed to deliver on Tuesday and must leave the hierarchy of the NNP party wondering why it was not able to attract as much as half of the 30, 000 plus voters that rallied to its cause in the national poll eight months earlier.
The party’s Executive members might now begin to doubt the claim allegedly made by PM Mitchell at a session that a poll was showing that government was currently getting 64.3% support for the CCJ bill and that a push was needed in the final days to take them over the 67% threshold.
The “Vote Yes” campaign platform of the Prime Minister and his team did not even get as much as 50% of the votes cast by the electorate for the CCJ bill.
The NNP leadership failed miserable to energise its own base and bring out its supporters at a time when Congress is so badly wounded and offered token resistance to the CCJ effort.
This newspaper had stated previously that the former NDC Leader, Nazim Burke was not a factor in Tuesday’s referendum vote and the powers-that-be were not able to use him to stir up the emotions of their people to go on the “war path”.
Another message which came out from the defeat of the “Vote Yes” platform is that the NNP might struggle to energise its own base if goodies are not put in front of them to entice them to vote for the party.
The NNP Members of Parliament in eleven out of the fifteen constituencies failed to put the “Yes Vote” in the ascendancy in voting on Tuesday.
It is significant that the 4-11 lost by NNP in Tuesday’s referendum vote is the same margin that the party suffered at the hands of the rampant Congress party in 2008 before the mutiny by the Project Grenada team of Peter David and Chester Humphrey and others.
However, this should not be interpreted by the NDC as clearing a path for victory in an upcoming general election because if the party fails to make the necessary changes and implement the correct political strategies in going forward the 11-4 defeat in the Referendum by the powers-that-be will amount to nothing at all.
The November 6 vote turned out once again to be another waste of taxpayers’ money at a time when the Treasury is under pressure financially to fulfill the expectations of the people.
Our health system is in shambles and in a deplorable state under Health Minister Nicholas Steele with reports that the two X-ray units at the St. George’s General Hospital and Princess Alice are out of service, and the public sector workers are restless over reports that government has reneged on its promise made to their unions on pension payments prior to the March 13 poll.
The millions used to facilitate Dr. Lawrence Joseph and his CCJ Advisory body on the November 6 referendum could have been diverted elsewhere and spent on the people’s business and not on advancing the apparent selfish legacy agenda of Dr. Mitchell.
The Prime Minister wanted to make the proud boast to his regional colleagues that apart from five victories at the polls in 1995, 1999, 2003, 2013 and 2018, he was able to become the first Prime Minister since independence to amend the Grenada Constitution and deliver the CCJ as the final appellate court for the island.
It was not surprising that he announced on Tuesday night after his ego was dented that there will not be another referendum under his watch ever as Prime Minister.