It represents my opinions. Not advice to PAM or to anyone else. Just my opinions.
Mr. Lindsay Grant’s announcement earlier this week that he’d step down as leader of the People’s Action Movement (PAM), on 30th September, 2012, was good news. There were too many negatives attached to his leadership.
He’s an able man and he has a contribution to make. But those things proved not to be sufficient to get him into Parliament and Government.
Of course, he was the victim of some serious things. And perhaps if he and his supporters had demonstrated that they too were ‘bad since dey born’, he might’ve been in Parliament, and even Government, today. But they weren’t up to it.
You see, when you want to defeat a man, you sometimes have to adopt his strategies. Bullies like to bat, but they hate to field. They like to lash, but they can’t take ‘lash’.
Mr. Grant will have led PAM for about eleven years.
Maybe he and his Party have a good reason for the effective date of his resignation, but 30th September, 2012, is 70 plus days away, and a lot of groundwork could’ve been laid by then had the Party chosen to meet within a week or two for the particular purpose of accepting Mr. Grant’s resignation and electing his replacement.
The new leader needs all of the time he or she can get.
Looking from the outside, it seems to me that the PAM movers and shakers may believe that they have forever to get things done. They don’t have a full slate of candidates yet, two and a half years since the last general elections, and now they have to wait for over two months to find out who their next leader will be.
Meanwhile, the man who they want to move is doing what he has to do.
That said, Mr. Grant’s stepping down, if handled properly, can provide his Party with a much-needed stimulus to re-energize and regroup, and to make a greater, more positive impact on an electorate whose intelligence, sensibilities and dignity have been severely abused, battered and disrespected, and on the institutions of civic governance and society generally which have been systemically butchered and disembowelled by Denzil Douglas.
The resignation delivers on a platter the opportunity for PAM to refresh and project itself as a truly viable and acceptable alternative, and also to change the politics of this country for the better.
But with all of this opportunity, there are also concerns. Firstly, while Mr. Grant announced that he’d be standing down as leader, he also made it “pellucidly clear” that he’d be PAM’s candidate for Constituency Number 4 in the upcoming elections.
In my opinion, he could’ve been more tactful by saying that he’d consider it if asked by the new leader and by the Party, and if his candidacy was going to be in the best interests of the Party.
Of course, I don’t know if PAM had done a scientific analysis to determine whether Mr. Grant should indeed be its candidate in Constituency Number4. If so, important questions might’ve been already answered. Hence his announcement.
For example, was his leadership of PAM a factor in his defeat in the last election, or were there other factors? If the latter, what’s the likelihood of those other factors being neutralized now that he won’t be the leader in the next elections? Is he a winner?
Secondly, PAM has to choose Mr. Grant’s successor wisely.
The two front runners presently are Mr. Eugene Hamilton and Mr. Shawn Richards. But there may be other persons of character and standing in the community, sympathizers of PAM, who would be ready to accept the challenge.
If PAM is to really benefit from Mr. Grant stepping down, its new leader has to be someone who, while not perfect, is perceived as a good role model, as trustworthy, positive, capable, conciliatory, strong and stable, and charismatic enough to touch the old and the young, the rich and the poor, and everybody in between. And as someone who can grow better over time.
An inspirer, thinker, organizer, mobilizer, and a true patriot. A person with the ability, the courage and the determination to shift our politics and our governance to a truly democratic and functional level.
(By the way, this is the type of leader that Labour desperately needs also).
One thing is certain, at least in my mind. If PAM is to mount a credible challenge, its new leader, as well as its candidate in Constituency Number 4, must be able, willing and hard-nosed enough to firmly initiate and mobilize pre-emptive and corrective measures against mischief, whether in Constituency Number 4 or elsewhere.
And the names of all of the hopefuls must be subjected to a scientific poll, so that the Party would make the best choice, not only to win or retain a seat in Parliament, but also to get into Government, either on its own or in a coalition arrangement.
Thirdly, if there’s rancour in the process of transitioning from one leader to the next, then PAM will have squandered this opportunity.
Fourthly, there’s been a mindset in St. Kitts over the past thirty years or so that for a Party to be successful, its leader needs to have a lot of money. And to some extent, that’s true, but the money doesn’t have to be his or her money. He or she just needs access to it. And, of course, it must be clean.
For example, while Dr. Simmonds might not himself have been a very wealthy man, the truth is that there were a few wealthy persons close to and supportive of him and PAM who were willing to spend their money. Likewise for Dr. Douglas, who may be personally wealthier than Dr. Simmonds, but who will also have wealthy and willing friends.
So it’s just as important for the leader to have the contacts as it is for him or her to have the money.
In Mr. Hamilton or Mr. Richards, PAM will have made a departure towards a leader of relatively lesser economic means, and perhaps to a leader who might’ve stood absolutely no chance of leading the Party 20, 10 or maybe even 5 years ago. So in this sense, the moment can be quite historic. And this is something which PAM can capitalize on.
In attaining the top post, if either plays his cards right, he’ll be able, even in these hard times, to attract assistance from people both at home and abroad, who are itching to get Denzil Douglas out of office. And not just people, but organizations also. But he’ll have to be extra careful, because a major threat to good governance and democracy can arise when personal relationships between leaders and heavy funders and ‘advisers’ take priority over the best interests of the people.
Further, in the absence of proper standards of transparency and accountability, funds and other things can, and do, end up in the wrong hands and in the wrong places.
All of this represents an opportunity for PAM’s new leader to make things right, to distinguish himself, his new team, and his refreshed Party from the deceit and other wrongs of the past and the present, to set a new tone of ethics and efficiency, and to be part of the new dispensation of governance in a truly modern, productive, proud and sophisticated nation.
And fifthly, and finally, PAM’s new leader, even before he’s elected, must begin reaching out to other political players and groups, and to other groups, organizations and institutions, to enhance the chances of forming decent alliances and relationships going forward.
We’ll be watching with interest.