Eight years after revolutionary politician, Peter David was branded as an alleged credit card fraudster by Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, the two of them have engaged in a political marriage within the ruling New National Party (NNP) that won the February 2013 general elections.
David, the former General Secretary and Foreign Affairs Minister with the 2008-13 Congress government of Tillman Thomas, is now a full-fledged member of the archrival NNP.
The former Member of Parliament for the Town of St. George brought the guessing game to an end on Tuesday night when he formally took out membership of the ruling party – a political organisation that he had battled politically against for over a decade.
David’s move came just over two years after he was expelled from Congress amidst a bitter internal feud for control of the party and government from Thomas.
The controversial politician was the star attraction at a swearing-in ceremony held at the Paraclete Government School on Tuesday night where he received his credentials and his official NNP shirt in the presence of many supporters.
Accompanied by a handful of former Congress supporters gathered among a strong NNP support base, the ex-government minister and current advisor to the NNP regime delivered an address lasting just over 20 minutes in which he constantly used the slogan, “Count Me In” as he praised the NNP as the best “Working Class” vehicle on which to ride in the country.
“It gives me great encouragement to seen many of my colleagues and friends here this evening, people who have fought in another place for internal democracy to ensure that the process works for the genuine benefit of the people,” said David.
This was obvious reference to persons like former Works Minister, Joseph Gilbert, and Pastor Stanford Simon, the ex-Chairman of Congress and journalist Hamlet Mark, now serving as a Senior Advisor on Information in the NNP regime.
Sitting in the audience was David’s 91-year old father, Chasley David, a former insurance executive and hotel operator in the south of the island,
The former Congress executive member was also high in praise for the leadership of PM Mitchell, who had often slammed the expelled Congress executive member as someone who cannot be trusted and had pulled a gun on his father during the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution.
According to David, he sees PM Mitchell as a man who has tremendously learnt from the mistakes of the past and that the NNP was the party with the Working Class interest at its heart.
“Through all the battle we fought against the NNP in the last 12 years, all that we say about it, it came through all of it, with its working class credentials,” he told the packed hall.
“Even at the time of economic challenges and sacrifices, this government’s determination not to leave the most vulnerable behind must be lauded…”, he said as he expressed joy to be a part of the NNP set-up.
In an attack on Congress, David said he believes that although the NDC had been his vehicle to try and bring about “meaningful democracy” for a number of years, the direction it was now going in did not coincide with his belief.
“I believe that a political party is nothing more than a vehicle to take me to a destination and if I take a vehicle to a destination and when I get half way there, the driver said he is gong in (a) different destination, I have a right to get off and get a different driver that is heading in the destination that I was heading,” David said as he sought to explain his rationale for joining NNP.
According to David, he believes that the NNP party and government’s heart was in the right place because it is determined to make life better for the ordinary man and as such he was proud to say as he held up his card to the crowd that, “I am an official card carrying member of the New National Party.”
A relaxed looking Prime Minister Mitchell spoke of how proud he felt to endorse David as a member of his party, saying that it was easy for him to do so since his own qualities coincide greatly with those possessed by the new entrant to the house of the NNP.
The Grenadian leader stated that both he and David had one thing in common and that is their love for people.
PM Mitchell told the gathering that he could see the ex-Foreign Affairs Minister helping government to move forward positively as David’s abilities can be spotted from a distance
“Peter has skills, he has good relationships with people and therefore, it adds further strength in the organisation of the party and any area we see fit in the government that we believe he can help, whether in advisory capacity or otherwise, we’ll look at that,” said Dr. Mitchell.
“As you know while he was not even a member of the NNP, he joined with us to help us to raise US $12 million and that’s a lot of money in our context, so if he is doing that and not even a member, we would be foolish not to use him with his national and regional connections that he has,” he added.
The Prime Minister who took pot shots at current Congress leader, Nazim Burke, said that the NNP was more than prepared to extend a hand for the embattled politician.
“I laughed when I heard that the NDC was throwing out Peter David from the party because I thought they were giving us a tremendous tool – just the perception that he wasn’t there brought in a number of persons to the party, so him actually being in could make it better,” Dr Mitchell later told The New Today.
Former NDC Works Minister Joseph Gilbert who was expelled from the party among with David and seven others just over two years ago was also in the crowd.
The former Member of Parliament for St. Patrick West told this newspaper that it was only a matter of time before several other former NDC members join the NNP wagon.
“We believe the NNP has done well, the people (have) given them a mandate to run this country for the next five years and in my opinion, they would be there for a long time”, Gilbert said.
“…I know a lot of people who are coming on board with Peter, with Dr Mitchell on Project Grenada; he (Mitchell) is only leading but if you look around, you see a long line of us waiting and ready to come into the NNP,” he added.
Gilbert who had his own running with a former Mitchell government while serving as an Engineer on a project involving the European Union, said the NNP is now the way to go in Grenada as the party is for the people.
“The truth is some of the key activist of the NDC who were expelled and others who had decided to leave for one reason or the other are prepared now to move forward with the NNP,” he added.