Wednesday, 06 June 2012 02:31
By caribarena news
Antigua St John's - Antigua Labour Party (ALP) leader Lester Bird and deputy leader Gaston Browne have rallied together to tackle what they consider to be an outright internal attack on the leadership of the party, and has pledged to address the matter at the next executive meeting.
“The time has come for us to seek to regroup and stop all the foolishness that has actually articulated… time is now of the essence… we have to ready the party (to) run this country,” Browne said.
Responding once again to the public and intramural outcry about the opposition’s inability to carry forward a tabled Motion of No Confidence, the ALP leader said that after decades in political office he was not aware that he could have allowed for another ALP member of parliament to carry the Motion forward in his absence.
He said that had he been aware of such a possibility, he would have undoubtedly allowed for another MP to deliver the motion.
The seemingly emotional leader added, “Nothing is wrong with my mind… I can take on anybody,” as he highlighted that some members of the ALP seem to be using the “single (no confidence) issue” as ammunition for his being unfit to lead to party.
“I resent the accusation that because my legs are a bit weak that I should go somewhere else or the other. I will not accept that… I have made my contribution to this country and this party and I find it offensive that some of the people in the Labour Party could use this one issue to indicate that Lester Bird is no longer capable to lead the opposition,” Bird said.
Bird said the ALP “has everything to be proud of” and the internal bickering must not be allowed to destroy the party.
“I always understood that if you move the motion, you will be responsible for putting it through,” Bird said on the ALP-aligned ZDK Radio on Tuesday. “If I had known… I would have insisted that one of the other members of the assembly would have gone forward.”
But while Bird continued to apologize for last week’s blunder, deputy leader and ALP Chairman Browne said had the leader proposed having another member carry the motion, he would have advised differently.
Browne maintained that only the party’s leader must carry such a motion forward, and that contrary to popular opinion, he has indeed endorsed the motion.
Regarding the ongoing issue about the Wadadli Power Plant, Browne said some ALP members are using the issue as a double-edged sword to cut off the heads of both the government and some senior ALP members, including him.
“There are some who continue to peddle misinformation that I have cut a deal with the UPP government and that I have said the engines are new. At no time have I said the engines are new,” Browne said.
He fell short of identifying the individuals responsible for the internal segregation.
He said he held his tongue about his position on the plant until he could have stood by it, like with any other issue. Browne broke his silence on the issue some weeks ago.
Browne said he had advised the ALP leadership not to hold strong on the notion that the engines were in fact old but to suggest rather that they do not carry “value for money,” especially considering the many senior technical minds that have seen that the engines were indeed new. This, he said, was not well received.
“That position did not enjoy popular support from the members… I would like to ask the right thinking people of this country if they would put their heads on a block to say the engines were new or old…” Browne said.
“No one could force me to say that the engines are old. I reserve my position on that issue. The people of this country trust me to speak the truth and I will not make that statement to be on the old engine bandwagon… I shall stand my ground.”
The ALP deputy leader said some ALP members continually bombard him with “personal attacks” for “cutting a deal” with the UPP on the position he took on the matter.
He said the information provided by the government last week in parliament about the plant was inadequate and does not prove that the engines are indeed new.
“There are people in the party who have cursed me… have called me traitor and have even gone as far as to curse my sick mother calling her ‘crazy ghetto whore’ because I refuse to say that I know that the engines are old. That's how low some of them have gotten. They even vilified Asot Michael, saying that we both cut a deal with the UPP.”
Browne said the ALP has fundamental internal problems with members who believe that they can say, and do, as they like without regard for the party leadership.
Lester Bird said the membership seems to be undermining the party’s strong position to win the next election with the attacks leveled against the leadership.
Meanwhile, ALP spokesman Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin said the party’s membership must put personal issues aside and put the people of the country first. He called for all matters to be put to rest and the focus of challenge return to the ALP.
“Let us stop this nonsense and let us move forward in the name of the people of this country,” Benjamin said.
In the meantime, party leader Lester Bird has said that although the Lone Wolf Protesters and the actions of his nephew VC Bird III could be commendable, the ALP would always support the One China Policy. The Labour Party, he said, will not tolerate disrespect for the Peoples Republic of China.