Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Our different challenges

Like many of you, I have had a sighting of the Glen Noel video posted overnight from his address at what they called one of the Solidarity Sundays.

I watched with amusement with Glen being at his disingenuous and mischievous best.

Obviously he is a top honors graduate from the George Worme school of half truths, innuendos and faulty analogies.

For the people who have been close to the Calypso Association or the St Andrew’s Development Organization, or as his former producer on the YSFM show ‘Conscience of the Nation’ – we get that too well.

Having said that – the trouble for me in explaining Noel’s latest episode, is the challenge I have had for a while – how do you offer public comment without using private information that was told to you in casual conversation.

All I can say in this context is that Noel’s public description of things and his suggestion of some “backroom conspiracy” is that this is not the same version he has used to me in private conversation.

So, either he was taking me for a fool then, or he was taking his audience for a ride on Sunday.

On principle, the details of that conversation, will remain private – but I will give him the public permission to go ahead and give his second version.

Now while I have thrown a few shots his way from time to time – I understand Glen’s position.

Whatever he is – he isn’t Peter David or Nazim Burke or Joseph Gilbert or even Tillman’s ideological chaplain Willie Joseph. He doesn’t have anything to fall back on when this gig is over.

And a man’s first obligation is to himself and his family.

Only politicians can watch anyone with a straight face and talk about “national interests.”

I have long argued that there is no such animal.

Glen Noel said: “Our challenge is to protect the role of the political leader”

So to understand Glen’s comments, is to understand that as far as he sees it – and rightfully so – his only means of survival is hitched with Tillman Thomas’ political survival.

Fair enough.

Thankfully my challenge is different – and hopefully yours.

My challenge as I see it is to ensure we have a system that will bring better results for the ordinary people I grew up with.

Our challenge is to make our present leaders irrelevant; to rise up with consciousness and to end this current political saga and this farce.

All you democrats out there – why don’t you throw it back to the people?

Let’s all vote and let's all decide where we want to go – now!

The late Cakademo Grant, maybe the best chairman of political meetings we have ever seen in this country, once said: If you’re hungry and the devil gives you bread; take it; eat it and give God the glory.

Having cast his lot with the driver of a runaway train, Noel will have to valiantly ride it until it crashes – and hopefully for Grenada – it's sooner, rather than later.

But to speak to some broader themes he covered in that video – conspiracy, loyalty and respect.

It is my considered view that there cannot be a conspiracy in a democracy.

The nature of democracy means advocacy, mobilization and organization. (And the last time I checked, to do that was neither immoral nor illegal).

Now when Glen Noel and his team do it – it is national mobilization. When anybody else does it, it is a conspiracy.

How so?

Noel's version of a conspiracy not strangely though, is the same as his leader’s.

His cabinet votes one way; the leader vetoes it, and then says the cabinet is conspiring against the people – as if people elected 10 dumb men to serve a king.

Noel spoke about people mobilizing as  “a plot” and reported suggestions (though his story of the events is not correct) to change the party constitution as some unholy conspiracy.

Many years ago – a few people met and organized and mobilized so that Tillman Thomas could have become leader of the NDC.

This was neither a plot nor a conspiracy. That was democracy.

And the people who led that campaign  many years ago, were (interestingly) not at that meeting on Sunday.

About seven NDC conventions ago, there was a proposed resolution that sought to remove Tillman Thomas.

Some of the people that drafted that resolution were cheering on Glen last Sunday (Oh how times have changed). Those who fought against it -- were not there.

And nothing’s wrong with either group – that’s just how democracy works.

Noel also spoke about loyalty – as if anyone who questions the status quo is disloyal.

How about loyalty to the NDC to start with?

And while we are at that, can the leader show his loyalty to his party by implementing the many resolutions that have been passed, that he has ignored?

The former chairman spoke about a push to controlling the executive of the party as a means to controlling power.

Duh! Yes, that's what it is all about.

That’s what Noel understood in 2009 when through his mobilization and his advocacy he defeated Colin LaBarrie as Chairman and Nazim Burke unseated George Prime.

So what’s wrong if anybody else wants to do that?

But I know Noel gets it – but he will leave his admissions to private conversations.

He understands it, as much as I do: there is a rebellion inside the NDC. But it is not against Tillman Thomas’ leadership per se.

It is against a fumbling, mumbling creeping dictatorship borne in stubbornness and hypocrisy and garnished with a frightening ineptness; made worse by a government proverbially fiddling while our Rome burns.

And this brings me to the other point – and an open public warning to all members of this current cabinet – all who I have had the pleasure of calling friends: you can choose to remain part of the problem, or act to become part of the solution.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Some references of note

FOR my good friend Nick who said that I am just "jooking things", i want to just published some current links about the going-ons in Grenada, with no editorial comment.

Don't blame the messenger, it is what it is.


TILLMAN THOMAS speaks on division in his party (video):

LLOYD NOEL has his say:

ARLEY GILL has his say:




All the bits and pieces can inform a better commentary, than anything I can write.

There are times, our own words fail us.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Run fast from this burning building!

After a week on the road in Bermuda, I was about to write a blog about how clean and organized that society is, and how much we can learn from them.

Then overnight, I was about to turn my attention to the Bahamas after general elections were announced last night for May 7.

By the time I landed in Ft Lauderdale last night, delayed slightly by Air Force One in the area - and we having to clear the airspace –my phone was filled with messages as soon as I could have gotten a connection to my network.

The theme – did you see MTV News tonight?

Once I eventually got to see it this morning, it was clear to me that Bermuda and Bahamas now have to wait.

Having seen the interview with the Prime Minister, I’ve got one advice for anybody in his cabinet who cares for their political safety – run fast from this burning building; save yourself – and in that process you may just save Grenada too.

There is no saving this government.

I know this is heartbreaking news for people who have worked so hard to usher in change just four years ago. I share that pain too.

But like it is with an old car or a bad woman, as much as you may sentimentally be attached to the situation – you sometimes have to cut your losses and move on.

This is a jihadist suicide mission, led by a self-appointed moral fanatic, who determines who are the infidels that he has to – in his words in the interview – deal with them.

They say politics is the art of compromise.

But Grenada’s Prime Minister has declared he won’t compromise, and he won’t seek unity or consensus.

His views and his stances are bigger than the party or government he leads. Everybody else must follow the leader or be demonized.

“We have to deal with them,” he declares.

This is the same man who once told a party caucus that there is evil in the room – and they have to be gotten rid off.

It is the same man who once said the tough economic times was God’s punishment on Grenadians because they have become too materialistic – rather than as leader try to fashion policies that will ease the burden.

So where do you go from here Glynis Roberts? - the good Catholic that you are? Where do you go from here Michael Lett? Where do you go from here Peter David?

How do you make nice with someone who won’t compromise; with someone who rather lose an election, than figure out a way to settle differences?

How do you reconcile with someone who says in his actions, I don’t care who the constituency branches nominate, there are people I am not running with, and everybody must follow what I want.

If that is not fanaticism, then Bin Laden was a moderate.

And I feel sorry too for the very good people that have given him support so far.

He has some very good people in his corner – and they don’t deserve to be dragged down like this.

I think of three people every time I hear such madness – and for obvious reasons they can’t speak out like I can – but how much all of this should be tearing their committed NDC hearts apart.

I have come to see Franka Bernadine operate and carry herself with class, and I am a big fan. I genuinely think she wants the party to do right and to unite. And she doesn’t deserve to be in a situation like this.

Ann Peters has roots in St Andrew’s South West, as I do – for Union not too far from Munich – and we go back some; and I love her – with no apologies. And I feel really badly she is in this.

So too is Patrick Simmons. That is a good man. We may not agree on many things politically, but his heart is in the right place.

And having spent some time with him in Bermuda these past few days, he too does not deserve to be caught in this.

If the truth be told – this leader has failed both friends and foe (even the imagined ones); just like how Herbert Blaize did Tillman and company in the original New National Party; something the current Prime Minister inappropriately but frankly spoke about at the former’s funeral.

The Grenada Prime Minister and I agree on at least one thing – the party is divided – and after last night, we also agreed that it cannot be fixed.

But boss, as leader, how much responsibility do you claim for this?

How come it’s everybody’s fault, but your own?

At what point will the buck stop with you?

PS 1: Anybody knows this song that say something like – “The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire; we don’t need no water, let tha …… burn.” So who’s going to sing it for me?

PS 2: Pedro, you and Naz seem to be headed back to the same place – compliments your dear leader. Be the first to step into Ciboney Chambers, and while you there, prepare your ‘pardner’s office too.

PS 3: Pedro they’ve said that I am advising you. So how come you so stubborn – I say run fast, your (leader) coming!

PS 4: Doc I hope your cheque for the Prime Minister is in the mail. He has done an excellent job for you as your campaign manager. I think he deserves a raise. (Where is Chester when you need him to fight for hard workers?)

Monday, April 2, 2012

A new world of confused men

IN THE LAST 24 hours, Prime Minister Tillman Thomas sought to give his political stupidity some cloak of honor by framing the train wreck that is now the National Democratic Congress into some virtuous ideological battle.

“I fight them (leftist) already and I will fight time again,” he told a party meeting on Sunday.

Many took it to mean that he was suggesting that his party was split among ideological lines.

But he sought to “clarify” to reporters, before Glen Noel awkwardly hauled him away with his own stern declaration – you ain’t answering more questions – while he was speaking about the leftist in society.

(I’ll give Glen his props; other than doing it too inelegantly, he had a right to break up that embarrassment and send his boss on the way as some errant school boy who did not learn his lines right).

Other than the fact that in the PM’s utterances, the phrase sounded so seventyish, the thinking almost feels much further back. 1838 any one?

But who are those leftists in society that are somehow a threat to, well – his power?

What absolute none-sense when all his action is leading to the surrender of power to Keith Mitchell, the man who his one-time “leftist” party members once called a CIA agent?

So Doc you are left of Tillo now?

Now can it get more confusing than this?

The last time I spoke to Glen Noel one-on-one, he assured me he is a progressive. So too has Vincent Roberts.

Let me call out a few of my real ‘brethrens’ whose “progressive politics and ideas” I have always respected.

Other than Glen and Vince, Lingham Samuel are you part of this brigade that “fighting the leftists too?

Et tu Faye Thompson?

Comrade Naz. What say you? Don’t let them give you this record without a fight– the only man in Grenada to be a member of the most ultra-leftist junta in Caribbean history – and now – well let me use another very 70-s phrase – after Tillman’s own admission – the most reactionary government since independence.

Sister Ann, what are they doing to that legacy of advocacy and struggle you created that came straight from the progressive play book that I will personally be eternally grateful for?

Chris DeRiggs? Well they say you were a leftish. But, since the days of the NYO, I was never convinced. But I took them at their word.

Stephen Fletcher, my old IFE partner. So, all these political debates under that big tree, while drinking juice from Homemade Bakery have come to nothing? (Boy maybe you lime with Willie for too long).

Captain Belfon – my old TFG boss that insisted I attend political education class when I declared it a waste of time?

You part of the gang that fighting them leftish too?

They say this is a new world order – but it is a new world of confused men.

I mean George Worme and Ray Roberts will be happy as the only two Gairyites left in Grenada. (I am just being facetious here).

But tell me something. Seriously!

So Alleyne Walker is a leftist now? Alleyne Walker?

Glynis Roberts is a leftist too?

And mean, I guess we can say that about the old captain, with some fairness. Give Pedro the mantle if we want to stick with that old 70s label. He ain’t bright enough like “all you” to run from it.

I guess you can loosely pull in Quarless in that too. He was an old militia.

You know I am writing this and I am laughing. The joke is on all of us. All of us Grenada!

But give it to Tillo. He smart!

Pedro, Naz, Lingham, Vincent, Glen, Ann, Faye, Stephen, Chris, Turkey – all the self-declared proponents of progressive politics – he catch all of all you.

So you all were convinced that the man had reconciled – and he had forgiven eh?

He never forget all you!

Now, he is trying to catch Grenada with some divide-and-rule ideological blather.

I guess if you can’t sell them hope, try to sell them fear.

But is anybody buying?

The problem is that a whole generation has blossomed since – and while the old leftists previously mentioned can be denigrated to the ranks of graying old men, their children’s friends don’t have our scars – and don’t fear the future.

In the Prime Minister’s quest for political relevancy, he sadly can’t articulate a bold idea about the future, so he falls back to an old playbook that is proverbially stored in a library somewhere.

The thing Tillo, with the internet at their fingertips – the typical Grenadian voter doesn’t go to the library from where you took that playbook anymore.

It’s like trying to sell me a typewriter in this iPad era. (I must confess that’s a loaded line for these who have heard the joke).

You talk about out of touch?

Even all Tillo’s old jailhouse partners aren’t buying his resurrected absolutism. Ask Lloyd Noel. Ask KB. Ask Leslie Pierre.

So you mean I live to see the day when Leslie Pierre supports more progressive ideas than you all?


That’s all.


Francis Alexis, his old GDM (Grenada Democratic Movement) partner has moved on and can now even count Ralph Gonsalves among his closest friends.

I guess, with mortgage to pay – some with even two – you all have no choice but to go along, with this new declaration.

Or maybe – genuinely – you have been struck on the road to Damascus – and you are a convert to heartless, ungrateful politics that only speaks to selfishness that leaves all your foot soldiers behind.

I understand modern day economic realities. Doh feel no way.

But you all can’t call me opportunists any more with a straight face.

Look how it turned out nah? I am the only leftist standing, (well unless Chess decides to join me.)

SO wait nah? Tillo, so it’s me you fighting?

(PS: Thanks to my father, who for a standard four graduate had a progressive outlook without even being well read; Leslie Pierre another standard four giant who tested my ideas against his ideas every week at the Grenadian Voice; George Brizan, who as a boy told me always question the system and never be afraid to be bold; to Fr Martin, for all the great years in Munich and introducing me to the ideals of Michael Manley; to Loftus McMillan for making me understand commitment to the community; and my big brother Fred Mark for bringing back all those books from Canada, so as a seven year old I was reading Walter Rodney, Eric Williams and Fidel Castro instead of the Hardy Boys and Perry Mason. You see what you all caused?).