To appeal or not to appeal, that is the question

Opposition Protesters In Kingstown

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Hamlet’s famous soliloquy in William Shakespeare’s play of the same name nicely captures the political dilemma now facing the New Democratic Party (NDP).

The Party now has to choose between accepting “The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” projected at them in Justice Stanley John’s March 21 rejection of their election petitions “Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them,” by which Shakespeare’s character meant ending them with suicide which, given the contents of the petitions case, means deliberate political self-destruction.

In the present context, accepting life’s “slings and arrows” means taking licks for having been declared losers of the December 2015 elections by five different bodies: (1) the voters on election night; (2) The Organization of American States; (3) CARICOM; (4) the National Monitoring and Consultative Mechanism; and now (5) the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.

Taking up “arms against a sea of troubles” by appealing Justice John’s decision would merely yield a sixth loss by sealing the fate of this once strong, united, and victorious Party long before it can prepare for the next round of elections expected in 2020.

Being in opposition for 18 years in a country where most political supporters are long on party praise but short on financial support, compounded by the reality that the NDP would be obliged to pay millions of dollars in the legal costs of both sides easily pushing the Party into bankruptcy in the near future, has the Party between a rock and hard place.

That the Party did not carefully consider this eventuality long ago boggles the mind. But when you are determined to cut down your own breadfruit tree, as I have already termed this suicidal political exercise, rational contemplation is of little consequence.

Nevertheless, accepting the “slings and arrows” of the fifth loss without an appeal would be a humiliating and demoralizing admission that the 2015 election was free and fair after all. Still, the Party, and its most zealous supporters, would rationalize no appeal by claiming the other Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal justices are just as “unjust” (see below) as Judge Stanley John.

Watch a time for a Party that won four elections in a row (1984, 1989, 1994, 1998)! But that was with a different leader and different candidates save one, Arnhim Eustace, the author of its four-in-a-row losses.

In another of Shakespeare’s famous plays, Julius Caesar, one of his closest allies, Mark Antony, pondering Caesar’s assassination, declares, “O judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts, And men have lost their reason.”

When judgment flees, people act like beasts is as a good characterization as any of the NDP and their supporters’ continuing attempt to discredit Justice John’s carefully reasoned and legally rooted decision with slogans like “no justice, no peace” and “God doh sleep. Justice will prevail” (Godwin Friday, March 21).

But the NDP’s very own Caesar – Sir James Mitchell — is long gone and all that remains are the likes of Godwin Friday, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, and Margaret London wildly pushing the party towards the precipice.

Small wonder that Dr. Gonsalves is so eager to lead his Unity Labour Party into the next election.

C ben-David