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Eustace, your shelf life is finished – go home! – Sir James

Eustace, your shelf life is finished – go home! – Sir James

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“The old people used to say when you have a dead in the house, you’ve got to open the window and let in some breeze. The NDP needs some fresh breeze!”

This, coming from Sir James Mitchell, founder of the New Democratic Party (NDP) and former prime minister of St Vincent and the {{more}}Grenadines (SVG), as he spoke candidly about Opposition Leader and president of the NDP Arnhim Eustace, during a ‘no holds barred’ interview last Tuesday on Boom SVG 106.9 radio station.

Sir James said that as much as he wants to see the NDP regain its place as the ruling administration, he knows that it will be harder for his party to achieve this under its current leadership than it was to free SVG from colonial rule.

“Do they know what I went through to create this party? I don’t want to see my party lose! One of the reasons why I resigned or retired is that I wanted to make sure in the history of this party, it can be said that we had two prime ministers,” he lamented.

“But Eustace don’t want that. He seems to love the title of Leader of the Opposition.”

Explaining that he did what he thought was best at the time, Sir James said that he appointed Eustace as his successor because he thought it important to have someone in the position who had worked closely with himself whilst Prime Minister.

“I thought that he would be able to manage the country,” he recalled.

Additionally, the former prime minister opined that Eustace always seems to take stances on issues that he cannot fully see through.

“Every time you lose a war, your side looks weak… and your supporters [are] grieving. You not worried about your supporters grieving?”

He added: “All over the world, when you lose an election, you offer to step aside. It’s the norm… Don’t wait for people to be totally tired of you… My party doesn’t deserve that.”

Sir James also criticized Eustace and the NDP for losing the December 2015 elections. He explained that the party lacked in sound leadership, sufficient finances, political strategy and having a clear message to its supporters on how the NDP plans to solve the issues that concern them most.

Mitchell also commented on the NDP’s ‘front line’ protest action, adamant that it is a “totally different” set of circumstances.

“One is a post-election complaint. One is a protest against a sitting government… So there are different players and different perspectives.”

He further opined: “I am very clear in regard to the current situation with protests… that the right to protest and assemble is inviolate in our constitution. That right exists all over St. Vincent irrespective of location, and any law that trespasses on that right is on delicate and dangerous ground…

“The arithmetic of the election is not on the side of the protestors; but the fact that there is no reasonable ground of protest does not mean that persons don’t have the right to protest,” asserted Sir James.

“In my view, both government and Opposition has trampled on democracy when they dealing with this issue.”

Additionally, Mitchell said that contrary to what some say, he is not an “acolyte” of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. Instead, he simply wants to see what is best for the NDP – his “beloved party”.

“I trust that Mr. Eustace will understand the anguish that he is causing the supporters of the party by not giving them an opportunity to win… His shelf life is finished. Go home, man… Come drink some wine with me – I forgive you!” (JSV)

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