The views expressed herein are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of One News St. Vincent.
By KES Lewis
It’s been over 20 years since the New Democratic Party (NDP) has been kept out of government. It has certainly not been for lack of trying that the NDP has lost the last several elections. Two of the elections were lost by one seat, and in the last one, though they lost more significantly in the number of seats category, they won the popular vote. One would argue that if the trends continue the NDP should be coasting into government come the next election. But this is St Vincent, nothing is as it seems, and trends do not matter when it comes to elections. What can the NDP do to ensure that they win the next elections? I am going to suggest a few things. Here is where I must make a disclaimer. I am not a fanatic of any party, nor am I a political strategist or commentator, I am just an observer of Vincentian society. That said, here goes.
Win The Narrative Battle
The current Prime Minister, Dr. R.E. Gonsalves is a talking institution all by himself. I have never seen anything like it. He speaks all the time. On. Every. Single. Topic. Volcano erupting, he is waxing eloquent. Public health crisis. No problem, he has an answer. Two neighbours arguing. I am sure he has something to say about it. All this aside, what this has done is allowed him, and the government by extension, to control the narrative. By controlling what people hear, he can dictate what people believe and when that happens, he is able to shape the very reality people exists in. The NDP needs to confront this. First, they need to mirror what he does. Whenever he speaks, they need to speak. If he writes four pages on a topic, they need to write nine pages on the same topic. Once they have mirrored what he does, they can then begin to chip away at his narrative-wielding base and create an alternate reality.
This is the world of Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Sergey Brin, and Larry Page. These visionaries not only add value to their shareholders but to the world as a whole. Their innovations inspire others to dream. The NDP needs to throw the shackles off and dream of a new, bigger, better, more prosperous St Vincent and the Grenadines. To hell with being the best in the Eastern Caribbean at anything, this is the time to lead Vincentians to dream that they can be world’s best. If five hundred scholarships are given out every year. The NDP needs to dream of a local university offering free education for all Vincentians. Dream big and bring along the Vincentian people for the ride.
Change the list of candidates. The best football teams in the world do a few things very well. One of them is to refresh their teams every three to four years to remain ahead of the opposition. It is time for the NDP to say goodbye to some of their champions. I won’t call names, but there are a few candidates who have been winning their seats for the last two decades. They have done well being opposition voices, now is the time to thank them and put them out to pasture. This is the time to make a bold statement and refresh the party. Get some new voices and ideas in the party.
Build the Core
Become a well-run organization with a clear structure and the best people on board. This would help with setting a strategy for the future and putting the party on a firm footing for the next generation.
Did I say Vincentians are an interesting bunch? They are a study in shades. Scratch that. They are a study in shades that reflect multiple colours at the same time. A Vincentian can easily hold not two, but multiple opposing positions and argue vehemently for both. They can acknowledge that “things are hard” but argue for things to remain the same. That said, the NDP strategists need to learn the language of the Vincentian people and speak that language.