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Jomo, Richard Cox should form a new political party



EDITOR: Dr Richard A.B. Cox, in his column on September 29, 2006, made a very persuasive case for Jomo Thomas to join the NDP. I suspect the historical data that exist in SVG that show third parties not faring well in competitive politics, is among the factors that may have influenced our esteemed compatriot to conclude that for Jomo to make the optimum contribution to our nation, his best chances lie within an existing political framework, namely the NDP. I offer an alternative argument at this point. If Dr Cox were to decide to get into competitive politics in SVG, he and Jomo Thomas should join forces with other progressives and form a new political party.{{more}}

Long-standing members and/or influential leaders of existing political parties in SVG are loath to admit new members particularly if such new members are not pliant and are willing to question the existing order, however imperfect. Questioning not just for questioning sake, but specifically when such questions are raised to help enhance the quality of debate, to flesh out issues, to promote better public policies and to ensure transparency and accountability, among others. In short, such members are viewed as threats and I suppose not trusted to elevate the democratic process within the party and the country as a whole.

We are told that Jomo Thomas is not “ready yet” by the ULP leadership after months of awaiting approval of his membership application. Prior to, during, and after applying for ULP membership, Jomo has offered critical support to the ULP. His support has not been of the blind variety and I suppose this has not found favor with the leadership, to say the least, despite his insightful, frank and sober discussion of a wide range of issues in SVG. Certainly, serious attempts at educating the masses on the issues of the day should bring praise and kudos instead of the declaration that he is not “ready.” Might there be something else in the mortar besides the pestle? Jomo should not subject himself to further rejection by reapplying for membership in the ULP; he should find alternate ways to fully realize his incipient political talent.

If the ULP feels aggrieved by Jomo’s critical support, what would the NDP do, behead him? He has been particularly critical of the NDP, justifiably so, especially on the question of the Ottley Hall debacle. Dr Cox believes that despite the dismal record of the NDP after 17 years in power and the moribund and less than forward thinking strategists within this political setup, Jomo would find fertile ground for his ideas and principled positions within the NDP. Should Mr Thomas attempt to join the NDP and seek to reform it as Ralph Gonsalves did with the old labour party? Firstly, we do not know whether he would be accepted as a member; and if he were, should he spend time battling forces that are so entrenched in policies and programs that are less than progressive and are anathemas to his thinking that in the end could sap his energy? I truly believe that he ought to join forces with people of like mind and thinking to form his own movement.

Judging from the columns that I have read from Dr Cox, he would make the ideal foil for Jomo in a new party. Yes, I know a new party takes resources, commitment, time, organisation, among others. However, when the NDP and the MNU parties were formed, they were formed centrally around two men: James Mitchell and Ralph Gonsalves. This is not to marginalize the other members of the respective groups at the time, but they were there to prop up the two men who have since become Prime Ministers. Cox and Thomas could learn a lot from these politically-savvy gentlemen regarding formation of a party, if nothing else.

Messers Cox and Thomas present a new take. If these guys were to sublimate whatever egotistical inclination that may get in the way and commit themselves to building a party and SVG consequently, they can find very able allies who share a similar ideology, commitment and love for country.

To be sure the task of establishing a new party is a daunting one indeed. The prospect of leading SVG in the future is even more frightening given our lack of natural resources, among other things. PM Gonsalves, with all his abounding political acumen, will not relinquish power anytime soon. In politics, however, your fortune can change in a hurry; and since the current opposition cannot be taken seriously, a new party, one that can continue to lead SVG in the 21st century, should be established sooner to be in a position to be an alternative to the ULP.

In my estimation, Cox and Thomas should lead such a movement.

Mulraine Richards