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Is the Virgin Islands in for another snap election?

- An inside look @ the ruling National Democratic Party
From top left: Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL), Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Dr The Hon Kedrick D. Pickering (R7) and Minister for Health and Social Development Hon Ronnie W. Skelton (AL). From bottom left: Minister for Education and Culture Hon Myron V. Walwyn (AL) and Minister for Communications and Works Hon Mark H. Vanterpool (R4). Photo: VINO/File
From left: Junior Minister for Tourism Hon Archibald C. Christian (AL) and Junior Minister for Trade and Investment Promotion Hon Marlon A. Penn (R8). Photo: VINO/File
From left: Junior Minister for Tourism Hon Archibald C. Christian (AL) and Junior Minister for Trade and Investment Promotion Hon Marlon A. Penn (R8). Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- It was June 2015, almost eight months before the election was due, that Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) called a snap election, which according to some, caught the Opposition Virgin Islands Party with their 'pants down.'

The National Democratic Party (NDP) won by a landslide, taking 11 of the 13 available seats.

Now with the reported infighting of the NDP, word is that they could be forced to call another snap election.

Two persons, who are senior NDP Members with knowledge of the situation, told our newsroom that the fight over leadership and polices have reached a critical level.

Some Members in Cabinet, along with senior and long time party supporters, are dissatisfied with the Leadership of Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL), the party President who has been at the helm from the founding of the party in 1998.

They complained privately about his handling of the finance portfolio, in which there have been many calls by party insiders for him to give it up to his Health and Social Development Minister Honourable Ronnie W. Skelton (AL), who is a former Finance Minister.

We all remember the infamous letter published by this news site on the subject from party spokeswoman and cultural icon Mrs Eileene L. Parsons OBE.

Leadership matters

According to senior NDP sources, there seems to be a lack of information provided on decisions made by the Premier, most often without involving his colleagues either in Cabinet or Caucus.

In addition, they have complained about his lack of ability to stand-up to Governor John S. Duncan OBE and, because of perceived weakness, the current Governor continues to 'run rings' around Dr Smith, leading to much embarrassment and humiliation of his 6 year old government.

The situation has reached a point where other Ministers have taken it upon themselves to fire back at Mr Duncan, which leads to showing up of the Premier and both party loyalists and the public often asking who is in charge.

The senior NDP official also claims that there is a growing rift between the Education and Culture Minister Hon Myron V. Walwyn (AL) and the Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Dr The Honourable Kedrick D. Pickering (R7), as both are vying to replace Dr Smith.

This has caused further division within the party and a rift even with the backbenchers. It is unclear if both Hons Pickering and Walwyn can work with each other, if the current leader moves off the stage.

The conventional wisdom about the current state of affairs is that if there is a snap election it will be because there is a lack of confidence in Premier Smith's "ability to hold the troops together as pressure is mounting over the infighting and his leadership style."

The First Lady a factor?

While publicly many elected members will deny these facts, it came to a head over the airport project on February 28, 2017 in the House of Assembly when many backbenchers openly defied the leader and spoke out against the expansion of the airport project- an NDP signature policy- to improve airlift. It was an unusual move in the Westminster system form of government, where party loyalty is the hallmark of Parliament.

Then there are mumblings about the First Lady Mrs Lorna G. Smith OBE and her influence on government and, after retirement, is still back heading up BVI Finance, a statutory agency. While the move has been announced as "interim", they claimed that her reach on her husband's Administration is unprecedented and much to the dismay of some party insiders and NDP elected officials.

However, they did not provide specific examples of the reach and influence of Mrs Smith, a former Permanent Secretary, but insisted that her fingerprints can be seen on many decisions, especially under her husband's portfolio, including who he meets with on overseas trips.

One source said in other places this would have been "downright conflict of interest."

It is believed also that many backbenchers feel isolated and not a part of the inner circle. One backbencher told our newsroom "they are not listening to us." This is also the view of many of the party’s supporters, as Ministers have become a 'lord unto themselves' so no one can talk to them or they listen to no one, our newsroom was told last week.

Image may contain: 4 people

From left: Sixth District Representative Hon Alvera Maduro-Caines, Ninth District Representative Dr The Hon Hubert O'Neal, Fifth District Representative Hon Delores Christopher and second District Representative Hon Melvin M. Turnbull. Photo: VINO/Facebook

Dr Smith- I shall not be moved!

As for Dr Smith himself, the source said that he has no intention of giving up the Finance portfolio and in fact he will be running for office again and wants to maintain his leadership position in the party.

It is believed too that the Premier is now in survival mode and there are reports of him hiring a highly paid publicist, who is a former Government Information Officer in the person of Nadia J. Harris, to help promote him on social network and help improve his image with the public and the youth.

Critics of this move said it is a waste of taxpayers’ money as he has a Director of Communications and someone in his office who is assigned to social media matters.

Dr Smith has also been speaking to persons to join the NDP and it is said that he even had a discussion with an Opposition Member about the possibility of joining but "that did not go anywhere."

A close confidant of Premier Smith said to us, "he believes if he goes back to the polls as leader his government will win again and to all those who think he should go the only way to test it is at the polls, so yes another snap election is one of the many options."

41 Responses to “Is the Virgin Islands in for another snap election?”

  • Hmmmmm (12/07/2017, 16:25) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is nothing new
  • Learntolisten. (12/07/2017, 16:34) Like (10) Dislike (2) Reply
    Women run things. Thrushie foot running the Ministry of Finance. Let them don't listen. Remember 11/2 before? It can happen again.
  • voter (12/07/2017, 16:53) Like (20) Dislike (2) Reply
    Vino what a factual read
    • VINO CAN'T BE MISTAKEN (12/07/2017, 17:30) Like (20) Dislike (1) Reply
      This information is being fed to VINO right from inside the horse's mouth so they won't make any mistakes. It tells you how bad things are when the leaks to the press are being orchestrated from within the camp! Premier should consider the situation and make a sensible for the sake of the party. It is obvious that your soldiers have left you Sir! A snap election would make no sense, as the only person who can call it is the person perceived to be the problem. Or may be it will make sense, if those persons stand on principle more than power and decide to contest the election independent on not on the Premier's ticket!! Interesting times.
      • Reply (12/07/2017, 23:12) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
        And this goes to show you the country we live in...
      • Without The Proper Political Education (12/07/2017, 23:16) Like (80) Dislike (9) Reply
        we will never understand what the NDP gang is trying to establish in our country. Prediction- at the pace we're going, within the next 7 years, the poor and eroding middle-class will become a permanent underclass in this country. Instead of focusing on "Nation Building" so we can do for Self, NDP agenda is about making sure they control the wheel of power in our country. Case in point- Research the Prospect Reef Deal and all the players (an insider fronting for two entities), and we will leave that there.

        A Proper Political Education is Everything. If we allow NDP to control the narrative, they will control our perspectives. Wake-Up and get more serious about our politics. Policies in Politics are Everything- policies affect our lives- for the good or for the worse. People- we need to get Our Political Education game up.

        As we speak, Jamaicans are starting to fight back about all the concessions given to the Chinese investors coming into their country with christmas treaties to offer (highway, building schools, etc), but out-witting, out-negotiating, and out-playing the government and Chinese people are coming into Jamaica as upper and middle-class workers with opportunities to building their homes, set up businesses etc, displacing the Jamaicans because their government traded their most valuable assets, lands, tax-free imports, and everything else that the Chinese needed to establish their people in that country.

        Read Our People, Expand Beyond Our Borders, learn about the politics of the day, not just in the USA and Britain, but throughout the Caribbean, Africa, and Beyond as well. The status quos are the same; the sytems are the same. Everyone else is winning except us. NDP is doing no different, except for themselves and their circle.

        Without Common-Sense (street doctors) involvement within the narrative, look forward to experiencing more crimes, more underliving wages (see who NDP bringing into our country for their own businesses), and real suffering for an already unprotected people. We have not experience and feel anything yet with an NDP Government.

        People- we were born with intelligence within our DNA- plug into it and be guided by that.

        Believe 1/2 of what you see from them, and nothing of what they say, no matter how them may attempt to spin the information. Facts- their track record will support that. Out!
      • IMO (13/07/2017, 01:15) Like (16) Dislike (7) Reply
        NDP is nothing but a set of Neo-Colonialist taking us right back into SLAVERY. Follow the pattern, their is lack everywhere.
      • Wow! (13/07/2017, 02:14) Like (44) Dislike (0) Reply
        Political Education is soo important; it should become part of our HLSCC cirriculum. We better understand about the politics beng played. It is not about Doc Zzzzzz and his par*er Killery Smith being nice people. it is about what's in these deals he and his party is creating for us towards freedom of self-determination. It's time to get beyond emotions and not continually elect politicians who are taking us further behind. We must be able to hold every elected offical accountable, our we will ALL Suffer. One cannot do physics without math; in other words, one cannot do politics without understanding it's dynamics. Take Heed!

      • Let's face it (13/07/2017, 03:05) Like (14) Dislike (10) Reply
        Tne elephant/s in the room is not the one feeding VINO with the info; It is the one who think she and they are better than us all, who think she and they are in control of all our futures without us being involved. Get rid of NDP and the whole house of cards will collapse-. Only then we can reassess where we are and move forward.
  • Xxx (12/07/2017, 17:07) Like (1) Dislike (21) Reply
    But they will win a snap election
    • @ xxx (14/07/2017, 20:04) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      Ok Myrun but you even shouldn't be in our House of Assembly in the first place but that's another discussion.
  • Jaigon Jumbie (12/07/2017, 17:28) Like (23) Dislike (4) Reply
    The First Lady already show in her interview with Mrs. K. Christopher that she wears the pants. Under the headline some weeks ago with the fighting between the Premier and the CEO of BVI Airways, I hint to the opposition parties to get themselves into gear as the fight is sure to bring down the government, not sure how seriously they took me but it seems like many things can cause the present government to fall. I will appeal again to the opposition parties to get in gear and try to attract suitable candidates, the hand writing is on the wall. The people are ready to throw the NDP to the curbs, but if there is no viable alternative, we may we'll be under the NDP for another four years. Please opposition parties, get your house in order and present us with good candidates. The people are fed-up with the present clan
  • yes (12/07/2017, 18:00) Like (10) Dislike (15) Reply
    Nothing new indeed. We need a snap election but the VIP ain't ready yet.
  • Just saying (12/07/2017, 19:48) Like (14) Dislike (1) Reply
    Say 1 say 2 NDP MUST GO!
    • JACK BE STILL (12/07/2017, 23:24) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
      and to think this man Orlando heads the Finance portfolio ??? Can't seh Barry neva warn yu????
  • what a thing (12/07/2017, 22:22) Like (4) Dislike (5) Reply
    Independent Picko premier, Education minister will be deputy. 7th district new leader, 9th district new leader and one or two more will get new leaders. Time to stop the power struggle.
  • News Flash (12/07/2017, 22:54) Like (13) Dislike (0) Reply
    the voters must push the NDP out of Office instead their donners and supporters trying to manage a shambolic system.
  • john d (12/07/2017, 23:02) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    Apart from a bag of talk, what has this government done for 6 years? too much lies, corruption and double dealings
  • full circle (12/07/2017, 23:05) Like (5) Dislike (3) Reply
    Sounds like a hit job the NDP doing on Dr Smith
  • Small (12/07/2017, 23:17) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    Do not forget that the current rain of Dr. Smith as leader of the NDP is also seen as very corrupt, not him per say but persons around him.
  • Fed Up (12/07/2017, 23:19) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    Eeh ma! What a crosses.
  • My Take (12/07/2017, 23:30) Like (16) Dislike (0) Reply
    This must never happen ever again, voting any government in 11 to 2.. enough already!
  • pat (12/07/2017, 23:38) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    Once there was a farmer
  • @without political education (13/07/2017, 00:31) Like (35) Dislike (0) Reply
    Without aa act/policy of transparency; wiitout an act/policy of accountability; without an act/policy of conflict of interests, and any and all acts/policies to balance the playing field, we will all suffer in the long run. On Point! Time to get serious about our political education and assess those who have been fighting for such policies. And when they are elected, hold them accountable for their rhetoric. Reminder- It always boil down to us- The Voters. Everything happening- is a collective reflection of us as a collective. Where we are, is what we created. The change we seek- starts with us.
  • zoe (13/07/2017, 09:10) Like (21) Dislike (0) Reply
    Vote them all out
  • wize up (13/07/2017, 10:59) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply
    I will truly to see the when there is definite date set for general elections in the territory: this way all of know and just the chosen few when elections will be: I also what to see when we as a people can vote for the premier and give such person 2 terms in office
  • the way I see it (13/07/2017, 12:19) Like (5) Dislike (8) Reply
    Send Doc and Skelton home. Make Marlon Premier. Gknows young..Promote Alvera to Labour, Cultural and agriculture. Put Kedrick Education, put Myron health, All our problems solve...Some may say its not as easy as that..
  • I will say it again (13/07/2017, 13:14) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    The others were chosen because of Dr Smith. Promotion comes from the Lord. Dr Smith it is time for you to do what King Hezekiah did when he got the letter from Rabshakeh. Your name is Daniel but you call yourself Orlando. Return to your biblical roots Dr Smith. Listen to the Voice of YHWH and shut all the other voices out including the one who thinks she is boss. Allow God to fight your battles...give your all over to YHWH.
  • Interested (13/07/2017, 14:01) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    The war between Pickering and Walwyn is nothing new.It is an ongoing feud.
    With Dr Smith expected to retire at the end of his term,it would be interesting to see who emerges as leader and if the party splits.Marlon will most certainly support Pickering.Time wii tell.I think that Ronnie will also retire.
  • Well (13/07/2017, 17:40) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    BVIslanders need to fight for their country. Stop letting everyone else speak for us.
  • Need a new education minister (13/07/2017, 23:01) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    We have been using the same outdated education system for centuries with no improvement in curriculum. Mass education should be not just about academics. Mass education should also be about life, interacting with your community and avoiding certain pitfalls which will make you deviate from the positives.
  • UK student (14/07/2017, 19:56) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    The plan of most B V Islanders when they left home was to make money overseas and retire comfortably at home one day. Crime has forced many to look elsewhere for retirement. That's the sad truth.
  • Ronnie for Premier (17/07/2017, 22:07) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Trust me I would love to see the day when our healthcare facilities can withstand the test of being one of the best.

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