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Dinky Balcombe steps forward

Dinky Balcombe steps forward

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The opposition New Democratic Party reached into the heartland of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves’s constituency last Saturday night to launch a challenger in Cameron “Dinky” Balcombe.

While most supporters of the ruling Unity Labour Party tend to dismiss Balcombe’s challenge, the NDP gave a lot of publicity to this launch event. Nice Radio ran regular announcements all Saturday morning on transport pick up points across the nation. Once again this was going to be a well-mobilised rally. {{more}}

The event was well attended and brought the young pretender to the North Central Windward constituency home to address his cheering supporters. Interestingly the NDP brought out some of its big guns to address this rally.

Sir James Mitchell once again came up from his Bequia retirement to take to the podium and urge his party’s supporters to come back to the NDP, which he founded. He even tried out some of his Mitchellian humour referring to the Dr. Gonsalves as the “plywood prime minister” since the sitting government had constructed temporary schooling facilities from wood. This was politics of the old kind and was reminiscent of the Labour Party’s deriding of paved concrete strips as “agouti tracks” when the NDP was in office. But the crowd lapped it up all the same.

Saturday’s mass rally also saw former manager of the Central Water and Sewerage Authority Daniel Cummings make his maiden address at an outdoor NDP rally. He is warming up for his eventual launch in West Kingstown where he will challenge the ULP’s Rene Baptiste.

Balcombe had a hero’s welcome being carried aloft by his supporters when he entered the playing field. Later during his address he was to be overcome with emotion and shed tears openly. He maintains that he will be the man to defeat Dr. Gonsalves. A mammoth task when one considers that the latter scored the most votes to win by the largest margin of any contesting candidate last poll.

Does the NDP really believe that Balcombe can defeat Gonsalves in this seat? Is it just a strategy to ensure that the incumbent Prime Minister stays home to campaign thus leaving less time to assist marginal ULP candidates? This is anybody’s guess, but Balcombe seemed as confident as ever as he addressed his supporters, promising to bring an end to poverty Saturday.

The rallying has just begun and the NDP must feel proud of this follow-up to their launch of Dr. Linton Lewis in the East St. George constituency. The NDP supporters are in a buoyant mood at the moment and looking for a fight.

No one knows though, just when this fight will come. And the Prime Minister has often mused that this would not be a sprint, but a marathon. Question is, can the NDP sustain a marathon campaign?