Monday, January 20, 2014

Running from George Worme's side

I had promised myself to leave that NDC leadership thing alone -- and maybe I will still do eventually after this.
    I must confess there is a huge chunk of me, for largely selfish partisan reasons,  that wants Nazim Burke to become leader.
  I understand the fears of William Joseph, George Worme and company about Naz as leader. But truthfully, I would love having to deal with some "raw meat" for a while to come.
   Additionally, anytime it seems like I would end up on the same side on any issue as George Worme, I begin to get worried.
  And so for that reason, I ain't joining any Naz fight-down.
  (I know it  is self-serving in my regards. But pardon my indulgence just this once.)
  With talk swirling of the majority of the current executive wanting Franka Bernardine to become leader instead -- because of the growing fears of what Willie called the "raw meat" syndrome  -- Burke has obviously, and rightfully, upped his mobilization offensive.
   Jenny Rapier was whipping the women's arm in line to ensure that there is total support for Burke.
  He, in turn, has consulted two public relations people locally to help recreate his image in the lead up to the convention -- one has taken the job; the other said they can't do it because of client conflict.
    That, of course, is natural and fair, for Burke; a man, who in spite of having the majority of delegates -- at least at this stage -- is seeming to have so many questions remaining.
   Those PR consultants will have a hard time -- and good luck to my colleagues on this professional job -- because of Burke's penchant to -- well, to use an American political term -- "mis-speak."
  In defending and promoting his leadership credentials Sunday, Burke said that people outside of the party are opposed to his leadership because they know that he is the only one that will be "tough on NNP."
   Basically what Naz did in that comment is to suggest that Bernardine and Tricks, and whoever else might aspire for leader, can't make the grade because somehow they will be "soft on NNP."
   Was that another Naz classic "throw them under the bus" tactic that Willie complained about? The tactic he used so well against Tillo, re the Sewang affair?
  It is the same line of argument his cronies have used against Joseph -- that somehow because he stands on the other side of Naz's argument -- he is "soft on NNP."
   There is this growing intolerance -- and you hear from his supporters on telephone call-in programmes -- that this is "Naz time now"; and that anybody  thinking of contesting against him  is somehow in some NNP conspiracy.
   But, anyhow, that is the king of paranoia I have come to know so well.
  His sponsors have also been fatally arguing that "outsiders" should not be  "dipping their mouths" in NDC business.
   Which, funnily enough, brings the argument to Willie's point. Winning at convention might be easy, but is winning nationally possible?
   You see, political parties are not boy scout organisations -- and so what happens to all of them is of interest to a wider populace -- even non-members; simply because political parties can become governments.
   It is anybody's guess at this stage if Bernadine will run. (I am betting, maybe wishing really, that she won't).
  But to her eternal credit, in the midst of what Willie called the coordinated "online assassination"against him from inside the party this past week, she came out in defense of his right  to his positions, without imputing any motives to his statements.
   It was indeed a class act.
  And it was in contrast to the coordinated smearing of Willie's good name and character on the two radio programmes that Naz is in control of -- Heartbeat and the Eagle Eye.
    I have had my bruising intellectual battles with Willie through the years -- both as colleague and foe. He can give as good as he gets, but it never was personal nor nasty.
  Willie has a mind of his own. And for me I always joked with him, that he is too right wing to exist  -- but he ain't a bitter man nor a jealous man -- as they have tried to make him out to be.
  I was actually surprised that he joined the party a couple of years ago in the first place -- because we always agreed on one thing through our years of arguments -- we ain't joining no party; don't care who it is.
    Like Franka, Patrick Simmons showed his worth also this past week. He said all the right things about unity and healing.  Tricks is a man with his positions, but never a divisive fella -- not even in the worst days of acrimony.
   The problem the likes of Franka and Tricks face going forward, is that their attitude will not be the dominant one under the Naz NDC  -- unless he somehow gets a conversion of an on-the-road-to-Damascus type.
  Not that I am complaining about that.
  As a non-member who should not have "dipped my mouth" in the first place, I will be cool with the continuation of an attitude that has weakened the NDC. 
  I guess that will now put me and Naz on the same side.

  Well, anything -- once I am not on George Worme's side!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Rooting for the coronation

THE document penned by former Tillman Thomas Chief of Staff William Joseph about why Nazim Burke is a bad choice for leader of the National Democratic Congress makes interesting reading.

 And rather than his former comrades in the NDC making a frank and mature analysis of his arguments, they have -- as is their way of operation -- resorted to name calling; as if by smearing Joseph with all the bad brushes they can suddenly find, will make a lot of the points not relevant.

  While Willie is the most vocal against the pending Burke leadership he is not alone. Even George Worme has pause about the idea, and would rather Franka Bernardine. Phinsley St Louis thinks the party is about to commit another political suicide. Ken Joseph thinks it is all finished.

  Unfortunately for Willie and some of his other friends the pending February 2 coronation of Burke as NDC leader is inevitable.

  This was a play that has been in the making since 2002 (at least) -- and I know because I used to have Friday evening meetings with the leader-designate at Ciboney Chambers.

  As with the likes of Arley Gill, Kenrick Fullerton and Michael Church -- my first real contact with the modern NDC was with Burke -- not anybody else.

  Within three months of meetings, I was convinced that he was not good to lead the party or the country. (Forgive me if I don't want to go into details about that just yet).

  Only this week, someone reminded me of the conversation I initiated about the issue in the lead up to the 2003 general elections.

  I said to the likes of Peter David at the time, words to the effect: "I know you all are bent on promoting Naz in the long-term, as leader of this party. I know you all regard him as a comrade and everything, but if that was to happen it will be a colossal mistake; it will be unfair to the nation and I will break ranks and fight all of all-you."

  It is a pity Willie and company did not see it coming until now. I saw it from a mile away.

  I predicted it since 2003 -- and how I wish for their sake, I was wrong.

  The leadership of Tillman Thomas has, to be fair, long passed its sell-by date. 

Truth be told, if he had adhered to his mantra of accountability -- the essence of which is responsibility -- he should have resigned the night of the last elections as party leader. (But that's one of the many contradictions of the former prime minister).

  Up to this very moment, Thomas has not taken responsibility for such a humiliation of the NDC at the polls and a near-fatal tainting of the brand.

  Everything Thomas eventually got, he deserved, and the "No Tilly, No NDC" was just, in the end, an inappropriate but convenient election slogan.

  My fresh prediction is that the new NDC under Burke will so seek to remake the party after February 2, that Thomas would not even be mentioned as a footnote to its history.

  Naz and anyone have a right to desire to replace Tillo after the beating of last year. To be fair to them, it would have been untenable and unwise to tie their political futures to such a failed leader.

   That said, Tillman's ultimate failure would not have happened so spectacularly if the seeds were not sown by Naz and his friends since 2002.

  Here is how the strategy unfolded over the years: try to get anyone who might stand in the way of Burke's planned coronation by seeking to bring them in disrepute in the party, knowing that down the road a weak Tillman won't be able to stop anything.

   Never mind the humiliation and the loss of power -- that 12 year plan has worked well. Give Burke and his crew credit for that.

  One of the ironies of the NDC, while in power between 2008 and 2013, is that Thomas succeeded in getting rid of all the major players who stood up to defend his leadership while in opposition -- especially with the two attempts to formally move against his leadership.

   The likes of Gill, Gilbert, David, Glynis Roberts, Colin LaBarie, Michael Lett, Pauline Andrew and Jerome Joseph were veterans in that struggle to whip delegates into line, when the Burke camp, with the late Teddy Victor as their chief surrogate, looked to remove  Thomas.

  One of those crazy attempted suicide missions, as we called it then, was in the aftermath of the 2003 elections when the party came from nowhere to almost win that poll.

  Instead of consolidation and moving forward, these crazy men were then talking about removing the leader. (In hindsight maybe they were right. It would have saved Grenada some blushes).

  Having being barred twice from challenging Tillo, the Naz camp decided soon after the 2008 election victory, to a strategy of divide-and-rule  -- separate the new leader from people such as David, Roberts and Lett.

   They played to Tillo's worst fears, and by the convention of 2009 at the GBSS Auditorium they moved to take control of the party with all their henchmen, leaving only the leadership and the general secretaryship (understanding they could not challenge those).

  That was the convention of the unceremonious sacking of LaBarie as chairman, when Glen Noel took over; and Naz, against advice from some of us, went from PRO to deputy leader after they railroaded George Prime.

   Sensing trouble on the horizon, David gave one of his better political speeches -- the "we've come too far to lose the vision too soon" address.

  The sometimes naive and too-trusting man he can often be, David came out of the convention still upbeat that in spite of some bad signs, the party won't be divided and everybody would go forward together.

  But it was that Sunday I began to be convinced, barring some divine intervention, the suicide pact was sealed.

  And so it all culminated in the 2010 "swearing in stand-off".

  That, to me, was another telling moment. With the government on the brink of collapse, Burke went missing in action.

  In frantic dialogue and conversations on how to solve the crisis, Burke consulted no one. Never gave his input.

  I asked myself then - what kind of deputy leader is that  -- who will not engage his colleagues at a time of such deep crisis?

  His excuse afterwards when confronted on the issue: he did not want to insert himself from fear of further inflaming the situation.

  (My theory is that he wanted it to collapse, understanding that both the likes of Tillo and Pedro will be swept away, and he would be the last man standing to lead the party).

   Well it came a few years later.

  He is the last man standing wanting to lead. He deserves that NDC, and NDC deserves him. (Never mind the legitimate questions being asked about the scholarship money).

  I don't know why Willie and dem want to rain on the man's parade.

  Let's all enjoy the coronation, and then see what happens next!