The National Democratic Party (NDP) is rebranding itself in what its leader, Myron Walwyn, has described as a more modern party from when it was created some two decades ago.
The rebranding, Walwyn said, marks the handing over of the party’s leadership to a ‘younger generation’.
“The founding values upon which the party was built are still there because we still believe in them. What we are doing in our commitment to service is recognising that we are now in the 21st century — we heading into the third decade of the 21st century and life is different now than when the party was formed 20 years ago,” Walwyn explained during an NDP press conference on Monday.
“People are more informed, they are more demanding, a lot is happening with technology and different things so we are saying that, with this new NDP, we are shifting the gear to make sure that this party — [while] maintaining the core values — still responds to the needs of a new and emerging community,” he added.
Walwyn further seized the opportunity to also explain why he believes the NDP is the best of the total four political parties that are expected to contest the next general elections on or before April 16 next year.
Party’s good outweighs bad, says Walwyn
He first noted his experience as a successful businessman in two of the territory’s strongest sectors — financial services and tourism. He also noted statistics from a 2018 political survey by the Caribbean Development Research Services, which reported him as the best-performing minister in government.
Walwyn further argued that his party has had numerous accomplishments throughout its consecutive two terms as a government.
He said: “What I would also say is that the NDP has done a lot of good things. I only hear people take out three or four [negative] things and use that to define the record of the NDP. That is not true. When you are judging somebody [or] when you are judging a situation, you write down the good, and you write down the bad. If the bad outweighs the good you have a problem. [But], I can tell you today, over the two terms on the NDP, we have done far more good.”
Dark clouds hanging over the NDP
The ‘negative aspects’ the politician was seemingly referring to was in relation to, among other things, the controversies surrounding BVI Airways, the cruise pier project that had a cost overrun of more than $30 million dollars, and the wall erected around the Elmore Stoutt High School campus — the audit report of which is to be laid and debated in the House of Assembly this week.
And while responding to recent claims from inside the breakaway party — Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM) — that the NDP has ‘lost its core values’, Walwyn said: “What I would simply say [is that] I don’t share those views. What somebody ‘lost’ was an [internal] election”.
PVIM members Ronnie Skelton and Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull formed their own political movement months after losing their campaign for leadership of the NDP. Both men have maintained that the PVIM was not formed because of their defeat.
Meanwhile, below is an extract from what the party described as its new ‘Commitment of Service’ as part of its rebranding.
Through this Commitment of Service with the people of the Virgin Islands, the National Democratic Party hereby declares that it stands for the following:
We will continue to build a strong and vibrant economy, capable of generating sustainably high levels of growth, with the benefits to be fairly shared among the people of the Virgin Islands and support a continued high standard of living for our people as the just reward for their efforts.
An inclusive approach to politics where emphasis is placed on consensus-building that brings our people together in the noble endeavour of national development, instead of dwelling on differences which only promote discord, division and undermine cooperation in the national interest.
Respect for democracy. We believe that if democracy is to have more meaning to the average citizen beyond the two-minute exercise of voting every four years, there must be an expansion of opportunities for people’s genuine participation in the business of government, especially through ideas and suggestions that inform the development of public policy.
Good Governance based on Respect for the Rule of Law, Honesty, Integrity, Transparency, Accountability and seeing these core values reflected in the conduct of public officials, both elected and appointed, as the cornerstone of efficient, responsive and responsible government.
Visionary Government which is people-centred, solutions-driven and geared towards the delivery of better results. To reform and render government “fit for purpose” today in the fundamentally different environment of the 21 st Century, reconfiguration is necessary to ensure greater responsiveness to the needs of citizens.
Patriotism which speaks to genuine devotion and love of country, putting the best interests of Virgin Islanders and Belongers first in every consideration, and defending and preserving traditional aspects of Virgin Islands culture and heritage which make us who we are, define our way of life and differentiate us from the rest of the world.
Unity. We support unity among all the people who call these islands home, because we all share a common interest in the continued success of the Virgin Islands. We see uniting our people as the basis of social cohesion for the peaceful and orderly development of our Territory through deep respect for human rights, muti-ethnicity, non- discrimination and protection of vulnerable and marginalized groups.
Balanced development. Such occurs from a philosophical understanding that development of the economy must ultimately be for the benefit of the society and its people. It is about the pursuit of the Biblical ideal of the just society where people’s happiness comes through fair access to public services for fulfillment of their developmental needs such as education, health care, sanitation, a clean and healthy environment, access to justice and good infrastructure. When a strong economy supports a strong society, no one who is focused on improving his or her life is really left behind.