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Comrade does it, but Friday wins peoples choice

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CONGRATS to Comrade Ralph for his magnificent “Five in a Row” victory in Thursday’s General Elections”. In Carnival parlance we would say that ‘De Comrade’ emerged as King of the Bands for the fifth time in succession and took the Band of the Year title for an unprecedented fifth time, but spare some praise for NDP leader Dr. Godwin Friday.

In his first test as bandleader, he rained a little on Comrade’s parade by winning the coveted title as “People’s Choice”, his band accumulating more points in the popular vote category than Ralph’s ULP.

But back to the historic victory of Dr. Gonsalves and his ULP. In the face of what looked like most formidable odds, he has always insisted that his ULP would win more seats this time. His canny confidence proved to be correct once more, for although Dr. Friday’s NDP won more votes overall, the ULP increased its margin of victory from a razor-thin 8 seats to seven to a more comfortable 9-6. De Comrade once again stared down the barrel and emerged victorious, bruised, but very much alive. He proved once again that slaying a lion is a far different undertaking from slaughtering a lamb.

The five-time Prime Minister will not only go down into the annals of history as the greatest ever, in electoral terms at least, in the Caribbean, but has again confined his detractors to the “anals” of whatever political animal they sought to conquer. Never since the renowned Dr Eric Williams in Trinidad and Tobago (1956-1981) has a leader accomplished “Five in a row”, but two of Williams’ victories were in the pre-independence era. Dr. Gonsalves achieved all five in the post-independence period. It is too early for a comprehensive analysis, but there is no gainsaying the magnitude of his achievement.

There is much to ponder about the outcome of the November 5 elections, incidentally the first November elections in SVG since Adult Suffrage, but spare Dr Gonsalves and his victorious troops their moment of triumph – he deserves it.

The indomitable spirit which he has exhibited even in the most trying of moments has seen him over the latest hurdle.

Time and again in the face of adversity his “faith has seen him through”, to borrow some words from our national anthem.

We may disagree with him on occasions and some even decry his methods, not without some justification, but you cannot “diss’ him, to use a colloquial saying. Starting from a rough baptism in 1979, Ralph never flinched, even after experiencing three successive electoral defeats in ’79, ’84, and ’89. By his fourth outing he had begun to find the secret formula and first won election to parliament in 1994. Significantly by his fifth outing, in 1998, leading a reformulated Unity Labour Party, he won the “Peoples Choice” (popular vote) though second in the “Band of the Year”, to again borrow the Carnival analogy, a title he has held since then, and very dear to his heart.

So spare a thought for the likeable NDP leader Dr. Godwin Friday, the only man whose troops have collectively garnered more votes than the army of the self-styled “five-Star General’ (Gonsalves). Preliminary figures indicate that the NDP, with 6 seats got 32,847 votes, almost 500 more than the ULP’s 32,353. Not even the political knight Sir James Mitchell, founder of the NDP, could lead a team to beat that of Dr Gonsalves in the popular vote and his chosen successor, Mr Arnhim Eustace, certainly could not. So heartiest congratulations must go out to Dr Friday and it augurs well for his future as undoubted NDP head, he also emphatically increasing his winning margin in the Northern Grenadines constituency.

Yes there is much to analyze and on which to reflect from the elections, but for the moment, a peek at the big Winners and hapless Losers.

WINNERS:

We have already dealt with Dr. Gonsalves, but his feat is of such momentous significance that he must be mentioned here.

Dr Friday must surely stand tall here. The ULP had spoken of winning all the seats on the mainland and even threatening in the Grenadines. Dr. Friday has responded with a resounding rebuff –“NO WAY, JOSE”.

The stunning “at the tape” victory of Carlos James in reversing a narrow defeat in the 2015 elections must surely be one of the highlights of 2020, giving his team breathing space in the House of Assembly. Kudos to him!

Next to James victory in North Leeward the victory of neighbouring Dr. Orando Brewster in the contentious Central leeward constituency must certainly be a highlight, emphatically laying the NDP’s claims to rest once and for all.

Great victory young man!

All the other victorious candidates must be congratulated, but talking of winners, who could be bigger winners than the courageous women on both sides who contested the polls. Though none of the four female contestants emerged victorious, they all performed meritoriously. Special praise must go to the three NDP newcomers, Laverne Gibson-Velox in East St George who nearly upset the “giant” of the 2015 elections, Camillo Gonsalves in East St George in a short debut campaign – miraculous; Kay Bacchus Baptiste in neighbouring West St. George, and Shevern John who almost toppled veteran Montgomery Daniel in North Windward – a splendid debut. Dr Gonsalves and his new government must surely now be magnanimous in victory and reinstate her to the teaching profession. May more women be inspired!

We will dwell on the losers in our next column, not necessarily those who lost their seats, but Camillo Gonsalves and Luke Browne certainly have much on which to ponder.

My final personal elation at the victory of a soldier of the social movement, Curtis ‘Baffy’ King in West St. George. As a long-standing activist, I could not be happier. BIG UP Brother!

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

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