Editor’s Note: Many supporters of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) did not read the 186-page book by one of its leading members, Dr. Arthur Kobina Kennedy, popularly known as Arthur K. In their sober moments now, if they did, it will help them and the Party a lot. To ‘whet’ their appetite, we publish below, excerpts from his views on why the NPP lost and how to win in 2012. Please read on:
On why the Party lost, Arthur K’s views: on page 165, 166 and 167:
PARTY LAPSES: Third, our party, despite its glorious past, was a pale shadow of itself. It lacked, on the ground, the vital structures that in the past had brought us victory. Polling station executives had ceased to function; constituency executives were more interested in chasing money than chasing votes and campaign had been reduced, for most people into celebrity events in which one went to be seen rather than to campaign for votes. The end result was that while the NDC were going door-to-door, we were deriding them instead of going person-to-person ourselves.
Fourth, our campaign made too many mistakes. People spent too much time putting one another down instead of working to defeat the NDC.
People with critical information were excluded or not consulted about things where their knowledge was crucial to success. Examples of these have been given in the course of this book. There was too much emphasis on the candidate with the result that all of us wanted to follow him regardless of where we were truly needed. The result was that our candidate was overworked while others just looked on. While the NDC had three teams in the field, despite having enough talent to field six, we had one for most of the campaign and finally two for the last month or so.
We did not use our candidate’s time well. Due to poor planning, our candidate spent too much time in certain regions where not much could be gained and too little time in places where his presence could have made a difference. For example, if the NPP candidate had spent more time in the Eastern Region or Greater Accra instead of the Volta Region, it would have made a decisive difference. In Eastern Region, the candidate’s home region, he underperformed President Kufuor by a whopping 64,000 votes in the December 7 poll.
In communication, the NDC made propaganda a key part of their campaign while we talked, but never committed the necessary resources to counter their propaganda. Week after week, we agreed to commit more resources but did not.
USING PRESIDENT KUFUOR
This point has already been made but it bears emphasising. As late as September of 2008, President Kufuor was more popular than either candidate running and yet he did not get involved in the public phase of the campaign. There is no doubt that having the President on the campaign trail from September onwards in Central, Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo and Western Regions would have made a significant difference. This was rather reminiscent of the 2008 US elections when the failure to get President Clinton involved had cost Democratic candidate A1 Gore Arkansas and with that the Presidency.
RELATIONSHIP WITH SMALLER PARTIES
Also, our failure to nurture our relationship with the smaller parties over the last eight years also came to bear in that over the preceding eight years, these parties had moved, almost imperceptibly, from being our natural allies to being our natural opponents. Therefore, most of them, with the exception of the DFP, worked to help the NDC.
SUPPORT OF CORE CONSTITUENCIES
We lost the support of teachers and security personnel. While their numbers in electoral terms are not significant, these two groups are crucial to electoral success. Most of the Electoral Commissions Temporary Election workers are teachers and as we approached the elections, a lot of teachers were unhappy with arrears and being made to forfeit pay for going on strike. As one teacher who was an election official remarked afterwards, ‘we taught the NPP a lesson.’ In the NDC strategic document prepared in 2006, they made reaching out to security forces a key task. There is speculation that the reluctance of security forces to secure the vote in the Volta Region and to secure the environment in Tain for a fair vote may have reflected the NDC’s success in wooing them.
While it is true that the NPP lost this election, the NDC, apart from election day ways and means, at which they excelled, did other things well too. They had a clear strategy on how to deploy their big guns and they followed it well.They had a clear propaganda strategy and they followed it and put resources behind it.”
Regarding how to win 2012, below are some suggestions, on pages 170 and 171:
“THE NDC PERFORMANCE
The second factor will be the performance and image of the NDC and President Mills. If by 2012, most Ghanaians see that they are better off than they are now and the NDC is clean, humble and united, it will help their chances of getting re-elected. On the other hand, If they are seen as unsuccessful, divided and arrogant, the NPP will benefit. Of course, as Churchill showed after the Second World War, and the U.S. Democrats showed in 2000 by losing, it is possible for good incumbents to lose power. Indeed, the NPP showed the same thing in 2008. Already, the NDC is breaking its election-year promises with reckless abandon.
LEADERSHIP OF NPP
The third factor will be the leadership of the NPP at all levels. This will be Constituency, Regional and National leaderships. If the NPP have energetic, united selfless and humble leadership, its chances will be significantly enhanced. Too often our leaders are interested in being rather than doing.
The fourth factor will be the process for choosing its leader. If the NPP process is seen as fair, dignified and not overtly influenced by money, the party will be united and the candidate will have enhanced credibility.
The fifth factor will be who the candidates are. There is quiet speculation about whether President Mills can and will run again. If he can run again, it will save the NDC from a potentially divisive primary contest. If he cannot ran again, the winner on the NDC side might emerge as the leader of a divided party and the NPP will benefit from this. One the NPP side, a nasty fight for the nomination characterised by personal attacks will leave whoever emerges as the nominee weakened and, therefore, more likely to lose the general elections to the NDC.
The sixth factor will be the mood and inclinations of the floating voters. For many years to come, no party can win elections without the floating voters. In addition, predictions about who might be President must of necessity start and end with the floating voters and regions. The youth, Central, Greater Accra and Western Regions will determine our Presidents for many years to come.
The seventh factor will be the messages and the messengers. Divisive messages and messengers do not attract floating voters and whoever grasps this and orients their message towards the future will win.
As U.S. President Bill Clinton used to say, “Elections are always about the future”. Vitriolic attacks based on the past will not move floating voters to the polls or towards any candidate.
THE SMALL PARTIES
The eight factor will be the small parties. Since there is always the possibility of a run-off, whoever the smaller parties are inclined to will start off with a significant advantage. In the two run-offs we have had since 1992, the candidate favoured by the small parties has won both times. Therefore, it stands to reason that the candidate or party favoured by these parties will probably win again.
RETURNING TO CORE PRINCIPLES
Ultimately, however, what ails the NPP is not a crisis about our constitution or about elections. It is crisis of spirit. The party that had grown accustomed to pulling itself up by its bootstraps suddenly became dependent on government. That is why we went out like guardians of our nation and took power from the NDC in 2000 while we whined about why the government would not protect us in 2000.
Source: Daily dispatch