PAM Leader – Mr. Lindsay Grant
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
January 29, 2010 (CUOPM)
Noted Caribbean political scientist Mr. Peter Wickham, who correctly predicted that the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party will win the January 25th general election, says the opposition People’s Action Movement (PAM) must address the issues of leadership and popularity in light of its fourth successive general election defeat.
PAM, which governed the twin-island federation for more than a decade after independence in 1983, failed in its bid to convince the electorate that it was time for change and reject the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) of Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas.
It won only two of the eight seats that it contested in Monday’s national poll. Among the casualties was PAM leader Mr. Lindsay Grant, who failed to win a seat in the National Assembly at a second consecutive attempt. Mr. Grant was defeated by a youth, contesting an election for the first time.
“I think it’s the end of the line for him,” Mr. Wickham said in a televised interview with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC). Similar statements were made by Mr. Wickham as well as other local panelists on WINNFM’s coverage of the 2010 poll.
“I certainly do feel that it is a major embarrassment for him. He led a party for five years even though he was not the one who was elected (to Parliament),” said Wickham.
PAM has already signalled its intention to launch a legal challenge to the results in Constituency Four, which Grant lost by 29 votes to newcomer, Mr. Glen “Ghost” Phillip. However, Wickham who has repeatedly said that PAM appears to want to win the Government in Court, needs to turn the other page in its quest for a viable leader.
“He has now lost again and I believe it will be difficult for him to defend his right to continue as leader in the face of the fact that he has been unable to secure a seat,” the political scientist and pollster told CMC.
“PAM then has to look for an alternative leader and my feeling is that they should not constrain themselves by believing that they have to elect someone who is within the party or within the Parliament.
“I believe that they need to look outside and I remember the St. Lucia Labour Party when they secured Kenny Anthony’s services”¦he wasn’t even an active politician at the time and I think this is the approach that PAM will have to do – find a Kittitian that has charisma and appeal, well qualified that could match Denzil Douglas, take that person and work with them and groom them for the next five years,” Wickham advised.
He also said PAM had a false sense of security in the run up to the election, which was delayed due to legal challenges mounted by the opposition party seeking to prevent the government’s drive to shift constituency boundaries as part of its electoral reform efforts.
“I think that PAM made some fundamental errors: PAM believed that they had won the election because they were able to win a series of court victories and I argued then as I do now that if you look at the electoral data in St Kitts and Nevis, poll data and statistical data, it is clear that PAM has not grown their support in the last 15 years.”
He said the question of moving around voters became “a major preoccupation” for the opposition party but that the issue was “neither here nor there” with voters, instead suggesting “what PAM has to do is become more popular and that requires several internal changes and that is the approach (to take).
“The popularity that PAM appeared to have had a lot to do with the fact that they were winning major court battles in terms of legal technicalities. But ultimately politics is very different to law and I really do feel that they misunderstood the challenge that they faced,” he said.