(By Ernesto Cooke) – After four election defeats since 2001, the New Democratic Party, the main opposition party in the Southern Caribbean island nation of St Vincent & the Grenadines, is desperately seeking help to defeat the Ralph Gonsalves lead Unity Labour Party, in that country’s 2020 general elections.
While the work of foreign consultants is nothing new among Caribbean political parties, the NDP’s plight and long hard fight to attain governance, reached maximum desperation mode, when the re-elected Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda, Gaston Browne made public the contents of an alleged private telephone conversation between himself and Leader of the St Vincent & the Grenadines’ Opposition Party, Dr. Godwin Friday.
Prime Minister Browne noted that on calling to congratulate him on his Party’s re-election, the NDP’S leader inquired who the ABLP (Antigua Barbuda Labour Party) had hired to run its recent election campaign.
The Antiguan Prime Minister was at the time a guest on a popular local radio talk show, Browne and Browne, on Pointe FM 99.1.
Dr. Friday, according to Browne, asked whether or not the consultants were of United States or British origin.
He further said, according to Browne, that the NDP would pay anything to get those consultants in their employ.
Speaking LIVE Prime Minister Browne said,
“The leader of the Opposition in St Vincent called me just after elections. So he said, ‘Look, Gaston, I have been following the campaign for the Labour Party. I want to tell you, your strategist is something else!’ ”.
Browne quoted the NDP leader as asking,
“Is he a US strategist? Or United Kingdom? Where? Where? Where? I want to get on to him! I want him to do some work for me! We have a problem down here. We need to win! I need to get on to your strategist! Whatever it cost! We want him!”
Prime Minister Browne said,
“I said to him: Boss, we don’t run foreign strategist you know! Labour party runs its own campaign! He said, ‘What??!!’ “
“I said, “Yes!” ”
“He said, ‘Who….Who is the strategist? You the strategist?!’ ”
The New Democratic Party in past has hired SCL (Strategic Communications Laboratories), a British consultancy firm which made its first appearance in St. Vincent & the Grenadines in 1998, when the NDP won the elections with an 8-7 margin in a fiercely contested campaign.
The Daily Mail UK, in a report on 21st March 2018, said that Cambridge Analitica, whose parent company, SCL Group, was allegedly employed by the St Kitts and Nevis Labour Party, in order to smear that country’s Leader of the Opposition, Lindsay Grant, during their elections of 2010.
There are also claims that the SCL Group was responsible for carrying out a ‘targeted digital attack’ on Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St Vincent & the Grenadines.
Dr. Gonsalves later stated that he had in fact been harassed and bullied in a campaign that included an attempted hack on his private email.
There are also claims that the SCL Group worked for free on the election campaign in order to elect St Lucia’s Prime Minister Stephenson King in return for a contract to run a $1.9million Public Health campaign.