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Leadership crisis in the New Democratic Party

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27.MAR.09

Editor: Jonathan Peters’ campaign to unseat Arnhim Eustace as leader of the opposition NDP has caused a frenzy of activity in “Son” Mitchell’s party. Mr Eustace and his supporters within the party leadership have shifted into campaign gear, with a heavy foot on the accelerator in order to achieve the desired “break-neck” speed to protect Eustace from Peters’ political “scattershots”.{{more}}

Mr. Eustace has publicly called Mr. Peters a political “grave-digger”, and his long-time friend Dr. Adrian Fraser has used his weekly column in the Searchlight Newspaper to demean Mr. Peters. Today in the NDP, it is internal strife “RamJack” style (Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj and Jack Warner of the T & T UNC).

Listen to local “political commentator” Frank DaSilva, the man who has lost West St George nomination for good, except he runs as an independent. His almost daily attacks on Arnhim Eustace cannot be helpful for Mr. Eustace or the NDP, the party to which DaSilva holds membership. Read the weekly letters in the various newspapers and you will see numerous calls for the return of the “old bulls” of the NDP, including party founder Sir James “Son” Mitchell. In fact, one candidate in the last election has already been soundly rejected by his own constituency group, in favour of one of the “old bulls”- Burton Williams.

While the UNC-style infighting goes on, the two most likely to challenge Eustace for the party leadership remain silent, wanting to be seen to be above the fray. Linton Lewis and St Clair Leacock are uncharacteristically quiet.

To say the least, Mr. Eustace, a seasoned regional economist and former 8-month Prime Minister, has turned out to be an abject failure in both positions of opposition and party leader. He chose parliamentary boycotts and poorly attended street protests over constructive opposition to the illustrious Comrade and his ULP government. Mr. Eustace seems always ready to criticise government’s policies but never ready to present alternatives to Vincentians. Mr. Eustace promised a “kinder gentler” leadership but unleashed political pit bulls and viragoes on the people of SVG. His party radio “bark show” is used to libel, slander, character assassinate and engage in “gutter politics”, rather than outline party policies and enlighten the public.

Given his dismal performance since 2001, it may be quite easy to remove Arnhim Eustace as party leader. But the NDP has a monumental problem: with whom can they replace their leader? Linton Lewis and St Clair Leacock, the only ones considered leadership material, appear to have very little support within the party.

There is definitely a leadership crisis in the NDP. And it seems fair to assume that for the time being, Mr Eustace will remain party leader by default. This situation continues to warm the hearts of Comrade and the ULP. The NDP is headed for defeat in the next election, so long as Arnhim Eustace is their captain.

Wade Kojo Williams

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