WHILE many in Grenada continue to debate the recent firing of Joseph Gilbert, it is important not to over-react, but to put everything in its proper context.
There are varying degrees of opinion about both the letter – delivered or undelivered, signed by the now fired minister, and whether it was deserving of the action of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.
Let me say the obvious, that under our system, Prime Ministers have a right to decide who they want in their cabinet – and can fire for good reason or no reason.
As a student of the broader science of politics -- I try to always go beyond debating what happened – to the more fundamental point – what it means.
Last week’s political developments in Grenada did not change the fundamental realities on the ground – social and economic. The people in Snell Hall, Hermitage or River Sallee are not any better served or worse served for it.
So when my response to the news last week was that people should not get too excited or get their “undies’’ unduly wet because “the sky is not falling”, it is because fundamentally nothing has changed.
This current National Democratic Congress government is being run by the triumvirate of Prime Minister Thomas, Finance Minister Nazim Burke and the Minister of Everything (my phrase) Glen Noel; a triumvirate supported by a cabal of official and unofficial advisers that former Attorney General Jimmy Bristol described as the “Second Cabinet’’.
Every other member of cabinet – except for Thomas, Burke and Noel – is expendable. And every member of cabinet is subject to the highest standards of behavior – save the triumvirate.
Accept my sympathies Patrick Simmons, Michael Lett, Peter David, Sylvester Quarless, et al – you have no power to effect the change people voted for – more than I have.
And that brings me to the crux of the matter – the policies of this government would not change from its IMF-inspired obsession of balancing the books without caring too much about balancing people’s lives.
Make no mistake about it – this debate and this struggle is about power. But not narrow political power. It is about economic power. It is about empowerment.
People see danger signs where there are none; and the emergency lights that are flashing in the real things that matters, people miss them.
Another budget is upon us, maybe the penultimate one before elections, and the seniors still won’t have the campaign promise of $400 a month fulfilled; unemployment will still hover near 30 percent with no real break in sight and small businesses will be tottering on the brink of closure.
I am less concerned about the job of Joseph Gilbert – he is an engineer, he would probably now make more money anyhow than he did as a minister – than I do about my friends in Munich and La Digue and wherever.
As I listened to the Prime Minister this past week and as I read Joe Gilbert as well, I was asking myself – how does that all matter – how does that all make sense to my cousins who could not pay the cable or internet bill to watch the speech on TV or read the statements online?
What happened last week was more important in the context of what will happen next – as who will be our new government next year.
Yea, I said next year. I don’t think there will be a general election this year.
Most politicians are not Jean Bertrand Aristide. They do not allow themselves to be put on a plane to be flown off to an unknown destination.
So this will be drawn out for as long as the constitution allows.
What is maybe clearer to a lot of people now – though it’s been clear in my mind for a while – is that this ruling party as we know it is effectively finished. The party is over.
Even if friends and well wishers say a million Hail Marys while holding the rosary, a miracle won’t happen that will make Tillman Thomas bring himself to run on the same platform with David, Roberts, Quarless, Walker, Gilbert and Hood. (And vice versa. Neither can they go on a platform and still say Uncle Tilly is the best thing since – well, Keith Mitchell).
Of course, Lett is not a factor because he is retiring; Simmons has no stomach for the fight, he will go too.
Given that scenario – who can boldly declare that the party now exists as we once knew it?
We say it clichéd, but it is true – it is the majority of Grenadians that will have to find a way to sort this out.
They will have to decide if there is a third way – and whether there is no choice but to go back to Mitchell.
There is a myth that NDC won the last general election – and that somehow Thomas, Burke and David delivered us from all evil.
It was a broad coalition of NGOs, trade unions, churches and community organizations that came together and ushered this bunch into office.
It is the people of the coalition that must reclaim their change because the current keepers have given it a bad name.
In the end though, with eternal faith, this will sort itself out – and the people in the end will get some kind of government they deserve.
PS: Democracy does not guarantee us a good government; but it guarantees us the opportunity to change a bad one.