President of the NDP and Leader of the Opposition, Arnhim Eustace, has told the party that he is stepping down from both positions. (IWN file photo)

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]. 

The late Harry S. Truman, former president of the United States of America, once said, in reference to his responsibility as president, “The buck stops here.”

A desirable characteristic of a leader, is one’s demonstrated willingness to accept ultimate responsibility for the outcomes of the tasks set by the organisation one leads, whither those outcomes convey failure or success. The leader must show character and magnanimity and publicly acknowledge the reality of the facts evident in the public domain.

In the political realm, leaders are judged by the exacting standards of effectiveness by ends, not means. They are judged by performance, not style. In the competitive environment of politics, there is always only one competitor on the podium at the end of the race. There is no second place or nearly-win. You either win or you lose.

Unlike the American political system, where senators and congressmen have considerable power and can significantly influence policy decisions on the merit of their personal electoral successes, the first-past-the-post electoral system, collective responsibility cabinet government and prime ministerial supremacy that we practice in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the game is different.

An individual candidate could bring positive personal assets and attributes to the campaign, but, ultimately, it is the aura of the political leader that would take them over the finishing line.

In our type of political construct, people vote for a prime minister, therefore, in many instances, they would vote for a candidate whom they could stomach, in order to get the prime minister they want.

Former Minister of Health under the NDP, Burton Williams. (Photo: Facebook)
Former Minister of Health under the NDP, Burton Williams. (Photo: Facebook)

This being so, political leaders in our Westminster type democracies have, with few exceptions, accepted full responsibility for their party’s electoral fortunes. In success, they triumphantly adorn themselves in the prime ministerial robe and in defeat, they resign their position as leader without pretension or prevarication.

Anyone who has been involved in a hands-on way in political campaigning in St. Vincent and the Grenadines over an extended period of time knows that the electorate are fully aware of the reality of prime ministerial supremacy in our political system and government. This awareness on the part of the voter, influences heavily their voting preference at election time. Two considerations are weighed heavily in the mind of the voters as they contemplate their choice: (1.) Do I feel an emotional affinity or connection to the individual who would be my prime minister? And, (2.) do I feel deep down in my heart that he or she would give a sympathetic ear to my situation and go out of his or her way to help me and my family? Ultimately, their preference is going to be for the person whose pronouncements, socialization, and record is most closely aligned with their feelings.

Over the last 16 years, the New Democratic party has been clobbered consecutively at four general elections. Has anyone accepted responsibility for any of these defeats? Who must bear responsibility for the fortunes or misfortunes of the NDP? During this period, the party has been led by Mr. Arnhim Eustace as president with primarily the same cast of supporting actors in the executive. Has anyone accepted responsibility for the electoral defeats? Where does the buck stop? If, as it seems to be that the buck stops nowhere, then the party is afflicted with a monumental leadership conundrum. This question ‘Where does the buck stop?’ must of necessity be answered urgently to allow the party to engage in thorough organisational analysis, confront any institutional, managerial or administrative deficiencies which may exist and come up with new and practical ideas as to how to go forward. The party cannot continue on its present path!

If Mr. Eustace, at this eleventh hour, would acknowledge that “the buck stops here” and accept full and unconditional responsibility for the four consecutive electoral defeats of the party under his leadership; he might just be able to rescue his legacy. If not, history will be a harsh judge.

Burton B. Williams

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

18 replies on “Eustace can rescue his legacy or be judged harshly”

  1. I wonder if these sentiments were ever conveyed to the president by this writer. Why at this time when this country is at its lowest ebb economically that this conment is being aired publicly? Do we have bigger problems in this country than this? If you want to get rid of the president arent there other ways of doing it?

    1. C. ben-David says:

      Good point but my understanding is that Eustace has no time for the advise given to him by former NDP parliamentarians most of whom are dismayed by his leadership and organizational skills.

      1. third party hearsay on your part David, stick to the evidential facts and stop being a part time ULP propagandist.

  2. C. ben-David says:

    Many good points made, but you underestimate the role often played by many beloved individual candidates in ensuring constituency victories.

    As for accepting responsibility for defeat, you also know that your party and many if not most of its supporters have speciously claimed that the past three elections were “tief” by the ULP which, some even claim, used witchcraft (obeah) to do so.

    You are also aware that Eustace has survived only because of a fear of internecine warfare were he to do the honourable thing by stepping down.

    There is no easy way forward for this once great Party.

    1. Brown Boy USA says:

      C. ben, why is this our focus and not taking into account the voting system? We seem to feel that the current electoral system is being conducted free and fair. While that may be so, but as a concern Vincentian, I am more concern that if there are questions about the electoral process then let us address these issue and fix them, and if NDP still wants go with Eustace as their leader then that’s there choice. But we must examine and ensure that elections are being conducted free and fair, others the will of the people is really not going to be adhere to and we will find ourselves on this forum blaming leaders and ignoring the problem with our current electoral system.

  3. Brown Boy USA says:

    It is very interested on how person’s, like yourself, are quick to be so judgmental in your consensus. One must take into consideration the recent allegations of election fraud. Could the possibility exists that the recent election, and even elections before then, could have been stolen? Why is then the government is so adamant about getting the NDP petition thrown out of court? As a concern Vincentian citizen, I would be more concern about ensuring that we have a free and fair election system in place than worrying about the NDP leadership. No one seems to want to address the issue of whether there free and fair elections are being conducted in our country, and only see NDP leadership as failing to again governance in SVG over the past 4 elections. Isn’t that the most important thing in our country is to ensure that democracy is being preserved and our election system is not easily manipulated? As a former parliamentarian on the NDP ticket, I’m surprised that you choice to take up the issue of the leadership of the party rather than showing an interest in what is being fought for in the petition filed by the NDP regarding the election system. If the petitions are heard then we will have a clear understanding of whether elections in our country are being conducted free and fairly. But you seem to be of the view that elections are being conducted free and fair. Let the petitions be heard. If it is concluded to be so then by all mean you have the all right to question the leadership of the NDP party. Don’t you think the Vincentian public should have the opportunity to see if the elections were conducted freely through the hearing of the petitions? I think we as Vincentians have lost our minds and seem to be suffering from a bad of Gonsalves Syndrome.

    1. C. ben-David says:

      The petitions are a smokescreen concocted to obscure the poor leadership, organization, policies, and performance of this Eustace pale imitation of the real NDP that we had under Sir James’ leadership.

      1. Brown Boy USA says:

        I can careless about NDP leadership, that’s an internal issue that they must address soon or later. However, if there are concerns about the electoral process and system then we have a major problem in the country. This is not about ULP or NDP. We must ensure that the electoral process is being conducted free and fair, if there are questions and doubts about the process and system then they must not be ignored and addressed right away in order to preserve our democracy. I feel that where our focus should be. There will always be new leaders in both parties, but what is of most important is that our electoral process remains free and fair at all times

    2. There were international observers of the election. Eustace believed he was going to win, and didn’t, hence the stolen election. It was a fair election by all accounts. Losing 4 elections in a row, and then not stepping down, to be replaced by someone different…that’s weird, and it says a lot. But then having one person have so much power, the Prime Minister, is not really a democracy. Gonsalves is almost a benevolent dictator. When he leaves, you might not be so lucky next time. Pol Pot comes to mind. Electoral reform might be a good idea, to defuse the power of any one person, before you really regret it. I quite like representational government. Even though the NDP lose the election, they still have a role in making choices, because they represent such and such percentage of the popular vote. A first past the post system, with so much power concentrated in the leader of the party, really is a dangerous way to run a government. Benevolent dictators are few and far between. If Eustace really wanted to have a legacy, he’d be asking for a committee to study electoral reform, instead of claiming it was a stolen election. He loses a lot of credibility doing that, and he’ll lose the next election if he persists.

  4. St. Vincent, St. Vincent, losing four consecutive elections and still clinging on to power is bad, but following a leader that lose four consecutive elections is worst. Where are the future leaders, deliverers and prime ministers of this party? Wake up St. Vincent!

    1. three of those elections were stolen by way of election fraud, Papa really was one term Papa who benefited when someone stole the elections […].

      Also if you look back prior to every election huge amounts of government building materials [was] given away to secure the votes of the ignorant.

      Now we know that they have also devised ways to cheat at the ballot box.

      Whoever stood as leader of the opposition would have had the same results.

      David I see you are still being a stupid boy, surely you mean ear, ear!

  5. The facts are that this man was rejected by Eustace when he applied to be a candidate.

    This is little more than a matter of spite in return for his rejection.

  6. Seems like Eustace is a victim of hungry NDP rats waiting in the wings to snatch their piece of the economic pie if/when their party wins.

    So they have been in the political wilderness aiding and abetting the Anansi in his quest to wrest power from Eustace. And by their own scheming have weakened Eustace and the NDP. But for the duplicity of James Mitchell, ben-David, Burton Williams, Frank DaSilva and others the NDP would have been in power since about 2005. Ben-David flirted with Eustace when he thought that the NDP would win and he Ben-David would get his opportunity to cut deals with foreign hotelliers. But Ben-David has burned his political bridges in SVG.

    Now the rats are really hungry and looking for another leader to lead them to the political trough. Would the Anansi, Jerry Scott, Burton Williams, et al save this hungry and angry posse?

    All they will succeed in doing is to kill the NDP. So where does that leave SVG?

    The calypsonian should change his tune of “Woodlice in me pocket” to Woodlice in the NDP”. Poor Arnhim Eustace deserves better.

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