History decides the legacy of great leaders. The moments of their triumphs over adversity to improve the human condition, forever imprinted in time as a lasting testament to their philosophies on leadership and all-inclusive progress. Such men and women are either carved from their mother’s womb or they seize the opportune moment to stand tall and be counted.
General Colin Powell, a man of Caribbean origin, rose to the highest ranks in the United States Military. On the question of leadership, General Powell stated; “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” —Colin Powell
I spent some time last weekend going over a range of media appearances conducted with political leaders on Montserrat over the years. Elections are coming and it is prudent that rhetoric be examined against achievement.
One of the more recent interviews was done with Montserrat’s Premier Reuben T Meade on a drop in chat with ZJB’s Warren Cassell.
Looking at the time span of the MCAP administration in power from September of 2009, of the multitude of media appearances done, giving a measure of account for their time in office, Premier Reuben T Meade seems to be present in about 70 percent of these. A great work ethic no doubt. As a media man I am impressed, even with his two year running boycott of this media house.
Some would be quick to highlight that his domination over his party is a prime example of the long charged one-manism of the Premier. Having examined Meade, spoken with him and analysed his actions over the years, I have drawn conclusions that stand in contrast to the populist view.
Meade is not so much steeped in one-manism I believe, in as so much that he is silently focused and very mindful of his lasting legacy as Montserrat’s leader charged with the rebuilding of a nation. In addition, I have further concluded that examining the rhetoric and delivery of the supporting cast, Premier Meade’s effervescent style of leadership dominates his cabinet, for some within the ranks they are left wanting when it comes to their record of delivering on their stated rhetoric.
All politicians fall short, but for Meade to have his hand in almost all the Ministries can be due in part to Montserrat's ‘small government’ set up, or it can be due to the pressure he receives from a weary populace who have little confidence in anyone but him to get the job the done. This is his greatest strength and the quite ironically his party’s albatross.
What will the legacy of Reuben T Meade be after he hangs up his political gloves. Will Montserratians hail him as the best ever? Will his detractors curse at his style of leadership that they feel exclude those who do not agree with him? Or will Montserrat be on a path to social and economic supremacy that more calypsonians like Jonathan ‘Darkman’ Duberry will sing his praises in song?
I will tell you this about the Premier; he is a political beast with an acute penchant for strategy in the arena. Last election 2009, he pulled off the ultimate coup d’état in cornering the late Chief Minister, John A Osborne, to endorse MCAP. This quite possibly handed him a large chunk of the PLM party’s support base. One wonders what tricks are in the bag for elections 2014.
It has never been officially stated in any media but anyone who cares to pay attention would have noted that Meade and his MCAP team have been campaigning for re-election as far back as summer of 2013. This has been evident in radio appearances and the tone and style of presentations often delivered in those media appearances. The benefits of MCAP in power are always being drilled home to voters continually.
It can be argued that politicians certainly are always campaigning, but for a politician who has now been in the political spotlight for over 20 years and is on his second stint as leader of Montserrat, he may strongly deny and say it does not matter to him, but his legacy and how historians, journalists and pundits write about him has to be lingering somewhere in his mind.
Confusion reigns to know whether those who are planning to challenge Meade are paying attention to the head start that MCAP have had. The incumbents will always have an advantage perhaps, but as this media house stated in an article last November, if potential challengers do not show their hand and allow the voting public to become familiar with them and their policies, then the MCAP political machine will slap them hard come elections 2014.
I have great difficulties seeing the soundness of reason in stating that it is ok to declare one’s candidacy last minute once elections have been announced. In my view, that is not leadership. That smells to me like cowardice and fear. Tactician, Claude Hogan, spoke a few weeks ago about the silent campaign, but I ask, where does the silent campaigning place Montserrat by way of updating our political practice and levels of engagement?
RT Meade once called himself the suicidal politician and indeed there have been a few acts over the years that this media house has called him out on, much to his chagrin and eventual boycott of – as he states: “things alive” or “mni dead.”
Whilst I know that we did not elect a perfect leader, I have always wanted to see more from Meade, for him to dig deeper, and stay true to his stated mantra of allowing all ideas to contend in moving Montserrat forward.
Gun Hill, MDC on the move, sports complex coming, geothermal report due soon, even an Arab Sheik just visited we have been informed. Are these enough to re-elect Premier Meade and MCAP?
Are the silent challengers fearful of what they are seeing on the ground?
Is Meade now moving with stealth to shore up his support base and affirm his lasting legacy on Montserrat’s development?
I remain convinced that elections 2014 will be more about the leadership of RT Meade and less about his support cast, who frankly, question marks swirl over. The strength of Reuben T Meade does seem to be the weakness of MCAP. But we shall see.
Listen to Premier Meade being interviewed by Warren Cassell below:
Note: Jeevan Robinson is Founder & Editor-in-Chief of MNI Alive: Global Caribbean Media.