Bert Brathwaite advocates doing “the right thing’’

The content originally appeared on: The Barnacle News
Dr Bert Brathwaite

By Lincoln DePradine

Longtime New National Party member, Dr Bert Brathwaite, says there are “people within the party who should come forward and contest’’ for NNP leadership at a convention.

“The right thing is to have a convention and stop fiddling around and making excuses,’’ said Brathwaite. “Let’s have a convention. If the party goes back under Dr Mitchell, so be it.’’

The future of the Keith Mitchell-led NNP has been a topic of debate, locally and regionally, ever since the party lost 9-6 to the now ruling National Democratic Congress in general elections in June 2022.

In the election campaign, Mitchell – who has been prime minister on five occasions – asked for a sixth mandate, calling it “one for the road’’.

At his first meeting with reporters, following the party’s election defeat, Mitchell said he accepted his new role as Opposition Leader with “honour and gratitude’’, and planned on being a “mentor and a guide’’ in the House of Representatives, where he sits as MP for St George North-West.

“The new leadership of the NNP will be chosen at the next convention,’’ Mitchell told reporters. “I will be there to offer my advice and support; but, I will not attempt to dictate or impose anyone on the leadership of the NNP.’’

However, the NNP has not held a convention in more than two years.

Brathwaite has warned of “danger’’ to the NNP, and of the party being caught “flat-footed’’ at the call of a general election.

He is “strongly’’ advocating for potential NNP leadership candidates to engage in an “open process’’, including “good debate and discussion’’.

“That’s the idea that NNP should be heading towards, in my opinion, at this time to strengthen its legacy in the country,’’ said Brathwaite.

Emmalin Pierre

St Andrew South-East MP Emmalin Pierre, NNP’s public relations officer, has said she’s interested in becoming the party’s leader, but when a vacancy becomes available.

Peter David, MP for Town of St George and NNP’s assistant general secretary, has formally notified the party that he plans on contesting the leadership position whenever a party convention is held.

“I welcome other persons coming into the race,’’ David told the Barnacle in an interview in St George’s.

“I have put myself in the race; I believe I’m the best candidate. But, certainly, there are other people who want to be a candidate and who believe they’re the best candidate. So, I am saying the fact that other persons are coming in, and putting up their names for leadership, is welcomed.’’

The NNP and Grenada have had a “great run’’ with the leadership of Mitchell, and party members have “the greatest of respect for our leader’’, said Brathwaite, a medical doctor specializing in gastroenterology.

“I have the greatest of praise for him and his stewardship,’’ Brathwaite admitted. “He did say, however, in the last election that he wanted one for the road and he didn’t get that one for the road. It is his choice, whether he’s made that decision, to come back or not. And, if he wants to come back he should be prepared to face a challenger. That would allow the party to grow and to get its act together. The earlier that is done, the better it is.’’

According to Brathwaite, NNP has “a number of people who are quite capable of leading the party’’, noting that “one member has come forward; another member has indicated that they’ll come forward if there’s a vacancy’’.

However, Brathwaite said he doesn’t believe that “there needs to be a vacancy’’ to have a leadership contest.

“It’s the right of Dr Mitchell to seek reelection as leader,’’ said Brathwaite. “I feel, personally, if we went back to the polls with Dr Mitchell as our leader, our chances would be less than if we selected a person who has a broad following.’’

Well-known Caribbean pollster, Peter Wickham, has described the leadership issue of the NNP “fascinating stuff’’.

Peter David (left) and Dr Keith Mitchell

“I wish Emmalin Pierre well, as do I wish Peter David well. Let the best person win. But, the key thing really is the vacancy, which doesn’t seem to be happening in any hurry,’’ Wickham told journalist Calistra Farrier in an interview.

Wickham described Dr Mitchell as “a political giant’’ in the Caribbean region.

However, he expressed skepticism of him defeating current Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell at Grenada’s next general election.

“The evidence suggests that it would be very, very difficult for the NNP to recover under Dr Mitchel,’’ said Wickham. “There is a substantial course of opinion in Grenada that suggests Dr Mitchell is a leader who did well but his time has passed.’’

Brathwaite, assessing potential leadership challengers to Dr Mitchell, said MP Pierre’s strengths include “important and critical work’’ that she has done with Grenadian youth.

 David, he said, is someone with a lot of “national appeal’’, as well as “contacts internationally’’, and a “good potential candidate to lead the party’’.

“He’s sharp intellectually and he has experience in foreign affairs and also in tourism,’’ added Brathwaite. “He’s a team player and I also like that about him.’’