Monday, May 27, 2024
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Convention, convention, convention

NNP has not held a convention for the last two years under the leadership of Dr Keith Mitchell who has seen the party through seven general elections. However, something seems amiss that no date is set for any convention to be held soon. We have seen political parties going through transitional phases, but shouldn’t the party’s constitution be the guide? The views of observers are that the party is now splitting in two fractions with both sides being adequately supported. The name Peter David keeps appearing as the reason for withholding the planning of a convention, since it is felt in some circles that he will end up victorious over Dr Mitchell. He has publicly disclosed that he plans to throw his name in the ring. The age factor comes up as being against Dr Mitchell. But truth be told, it can also be applied to Peter too for the next general elections.

However, it was quite interesting to listen to the views of a senior member of the party –medical doctor Dr Bert Brathwaite as he makes a pitch for a convention to be held. Dr Brathwaite is of the opinion that not having a convention anytime soon can be dangerous for the NNP. He agrees with Dr Mitchell that they have lost the ground. He was on The Narrative with Callistra Farrier this week calling for an open and transparent process to allow any member with the wellbeing to be able to come forward. Then the focus must be from constituency to constituency broadcasting and showcasing their thinking about the party; what needs to happen within the party, what they would do if they were in government, and how they would handle the challenges the country is facing in good debates and discussions. His idea is that NNP should be strategizing at this time.

While he is praising the work of Dr Mitchell through the years, the experienced man stated that presently the members of the executive must recognise the dangers of not having a convention. He is hoping that the formal executive of the party would say that it is time for a convention because people are calling for it; a lesson he said that came out of the last general elections where people were calling for new blood to be injected. Dr Brathwaite applauded the party’s leader for his role in the transformation of infrastructure, electricity, water and the educational field. As a matter of fact, he added, with a tinge of humour, that some of the tertiary level students are the ones who are now in the government and turn around as the saying goes to cut our tail. But, that’s the nature of politics.

He repeated that the party lost because one of the reasons is that people wanted a change and he feels that going back to the polls with Dr Mitchell as the leader, the party’s chances will be less than if a new person who has a broad following comes forward. In reflection, Dr Brathwaite revealed that he had watched most conventions if not all in the past and when it comes to nomination for a leader, people will simply call Dr Mitchell’s name and it will be seconded, and that was all. Now that he sees the party going through a different phase, he said that people of all generations should be looking at the legacy of the party. He feels that Dr Mitchell’s legacy will be strengthened if he was to not come back into the forefront of politics and either play a part from outside because his experience will be needed.

While being tight lipped on other names besides Peter David and Emmalin Pierre, he said that NNP has talent and he is aware of other people that can take the lead there and it’s just for the executive to push and make sure to do the right thing which is to have a convention and stop sitting around making excuses. It is left to the executive of the party, those who were voted in, to see the dangers if the party does not have a convention. While the Chairman and the general secretary hinted that they will like to see elections this year Dr Brathwaite is hoping that it will take place by mid-year. The burden, he stated, now is on the executive members to recognise that if they do not have a convention, then NNP could be caught flat footed if it goes past mid-term without a convention, and a decision on the future leadership.

Dr Brathwaite is warning that the party has a constitution which states clearly that there should be a convention and even though it was delayed by a few months, that can be settled. Now if Dr Mitchell decides that he is going to be seeking re-election, by all means that is his right. The long-standing leader did say however, that he wanted one for the road and he didn’t get that one for the road and it is his choice, he has made that decision whether he wants to come back or not. But, it is our belief that if he wants to come back he should be prepared to face a challenge.


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