By Bridgette Donaldson
Special To NAN
News Americas, ATLANTA, GA, Fri. Feb. 27, 2015:“Unprecedented!” That’s how Paramount Communications President, Dr. Isaac Newton, sums up his team’s work with the main opposition parties in the recent St. Kitts/Nevis election that ended the 20-year reign of the St. Kitts Labor Party.
Back in the U.S., Dr. Newton, a political strategist and a graduate of Harvard, Princeton and Columbia, says the win by the Team Unity coalition of the Peoples Action Movement, the Concerned Citizens Movement and the People’s Labor Party over the Denzel Douglas administration, is still “surreal” to him.
Especially since, according to Dr. Newton, never before had he seen such consternation and a blatant attempt to trample on the democratic rights of the voters of the Federation.
“All of the odds were against the opposition,” says the Paramount founder who was only brought in with a small team of six consultants a month before the election. “The ruling party had incredible resources with a fleet of about 36 consultants. That team seemed bent less on aligning the right strategic intelligence with the right psychological template of the electorate. There appeared to be more emphasis placed on manipulating the laws and boundaries to gain unfair advantage. This win was a result of a lot of hard work by the candidates, our small team of consultants, determined volunteers on the ground, capable legal luminaries, mobilization specialist from Barbados, and another consultant Derrick Green, out of Washington D.C., with whom I attended Oakwood University several years ago. But I do believe most of all, it was the rhythm of democracy, entrenched fatigue against a leader who had gravely misread the political landscape, the grace of God, and the people’s willingness to try a new brand of politics. This was the longest campaign I have ever seen, yet a combination of factors produced this ground breaking victory.”
Still Newton and his team are basking in the glow of victory, which he insists was the hardest of his career.
“We were dealing with not just a short time frame but very limited financial resources and the loss of two court cases – one locally and one regionally over the government’s sudden change of electoral boundaries on January 16th without any parliamentary debate,” said Dr. Newton. “Given that reality, you can imagine the mood in the opposition camp was not very optimistic at times, and it took a lot to keep them focused on the fact that they could still win – boundaries or not.”
He said the Privy Council court ruling in favor of the opposition was the confidence booster the parties needed to go into the February 16th election and was the soaring impact needed to trouble the unsinkable mindset of the SKLP government.
“It was a travesty of democratic practices and precedence in the Caribbean that the Supervisor of Elections found a baffling reason to release the voters’ lists late without an objections period, then to push for early voting of emergency workers without a proper list in place. Though I suspect, judging from our data on the ground that the people had turned against the government, I was still unsure of unknown results of overseas voters, many of whom came in on private charters to vote in the election,” Dr. Newton revealed. “It was widely circulated in the public domain that political actors were trying to literally buy votes by handing out money and plenty of New Year’s gifts to voters. When all that failed, the Supervisor of Elections, realizing the opposition had won the election, made a terribly unconvincing case to delay the announcement of the results. There was a sense that this could have created an edgy discomfort that might have spilled over into protests and riots, which would allow the Douglas government to issue a state of emergency and keep a hold on power. But the people kept calm and despite the 48-hour delay, inevitable change that the people deserved finally came to the Federation.”
Team Unity took 7 of 11 seats in the election compared to 2 for Labor and one for the Nevis Reformation Party, the opposition arm in Nevis. New prime minister Dr. Timothy Harris was sworn in St. Kitts in the afternoon of February 18th and the country’s new cabinet was sworn in on February 22nd.
One day after the election, PM Dr. Harris at Team Unity’s headquarters also thanked Dr. Newton and his team. “Thank you so much for all that you and your team brought to this victory. It is the people’s victory and we must now honor their wishes. We must deliver,” he said.
Newly-elected Deputy Prime Minister and head of the PAM party, Shawn Richards, was also full of praise for Dr. Newton and his team.
“President of Paramount Communications Inc. and Harvard graduate Dr. Isaac Newton and his team contributed significantly to the upset victory of our Team Unity government. As the chief campaign strategist for two sections of our three part coalition – the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) and the Peoples Action Movement (PAM), Dr. Newton brought a fresh perspective, a buzzing message and highly practical but innovative mobilization tactics to our campaign, especially in the 4 last weeks leading up to D-Day,” said Richards.
“Our campaign was a long and tough battle lasting over two years. Not surprisingly, we faced a formidable foe who was willing to break the rules and discard democratic practices at every turn to maintain power. With his sharp analytical mind and highly capable team of consultants, Dr. Newton added much value to our campaign. He aptly assisted our homegrown talent to create a tidal wave effect. Together they capitalized on the psychological advantage that the Privy Council ruling gave us, rallied the youth arm of the party, and provided critical field support to several of our winning candidates. Paramount Communications is noted for creating an aura of unstoppable victory. I sense that the team’s global experience, cultural savvy and strong academic training were perfectly assembled to ensure that 6 out of the 7 seats our government won, came from the PAM/CCM section of the coalition.”
Deputy PM Richards added that he particularly appreciated Dr. Newton’s “professionalism, incredible honesty, and laser- like focus in keeping us targeted on both the big picture and the small details.”
“Above all, we felt deeply motivated and inspired to win for the people. I recommend this company’s services to all and sundry especially when the odds are against you,” he said.
Premier of Nevis Vance Amory and head of the Concerned Citizens Movement was also approving of the work done by the Paramount team led by Dr. Oswald Thomas and assigned to his party, who night after night followed the election rallies dissecting each speech and offering critical analysis and insights. He insisted that the Nevis portion of the Paramount team made a valuable contribution to the hard fought election and brought new vision to the CCM team.
Mark Brantley, deputy premier of Nevis and new minister of foreign affairs and aviation in the new Team Unity government also shared Amory’s sentiments. He thanked the team for their “hard work” and for their valuable input in the four weeks leading up to the federal election.
Paramount Communications and its team of highly experienced consultants have now concluded a winning track record of three back to back election wins in just months – having also helped win the elections for the opposition in Antigua & Barbuda and managed the landslide victory campaign in Montserrat.
Asked his secret, Dr. Newton says he validates and values peoples feelings and experiences by keenly listening to their hopes, disappointments and aspirations. ”Public perception always trumps rationale assessment and spiritual texture when aligned with psychological needs and strategic Intel, data driven messaging, and penetrating mobilization leads to victory, he said. “I like to keep our ears to the ground, listen to the mood of the electorate, and understand political leaders’ values and vision for progress in a country before deciding on whether his company will take on a particular client.”
“Moods change mathematics any day and it’s about tapping into the voters’ mindset and psyche to create a persuasion campaign that touches the mind body and soul,” he added. “Though a few of us were on the ground in St. Kitts and Nevis, we generous received top-notch extraordinary guidance and critical perspective from other members of our US and Caribbean based consultants, which was led by our CEO Chelston Lee. ”
Because at the end of the day, says Dr. Newton, he and his team always strive hard to maintain Paramount’s motto of delivering “rock solid results.”