Tuesday, 05 February 2013 02:30
By Colin Sampson
Antigua St. John's - Leader of the Antigua Labour Party Gaston Browne has stated his intention to meet any challenge to the unity and stability of the ALP head-on.
Speaking to Caribarena on Monday Browne referred to the activities of aspiring ALP candidates Vere Bird III and Sean Bird as representing the work of a mere splinter group, and characterized those activities as being of no consequence.
Gaston Browne stated categorically that any attempt by the young Birds to create a divisive movement within the ALP was destined for failure. He observed that the two maverick members of the Bird family were exploiting their access to the family-owned Radio ZDK to project a totally misleading impression to the world that their activities were receiving support from a significant segment of the ALP, and that the party was in danger of imploding. In reality, Browne said, nothing could be further from the truth, and the young Birds are entirely misrepresenting the true situation for personal reasons.
The party leader repeated his judgment that Sean Bird and Vere Bird III represent no significant movement within the ALP. He categorized the recent application by Vere Bird III to in effect replace ALP incumbent MP Eustace ‘Teco’ Lake in the St Johns City South constituency as having fallen at the starting gate by reason of the arrogant, argumentative and divisive tone of the letter. In Browne’s view, the ALP Executive had consigned the young Bird’s application to “File 13”. The opposition leader had neither regrets nor apologies for having dismissed the Vere Bird III application using the term “not on my slate”.
Browne referred to what former UK Foreign Secretary Lord David Owen called the “Hubris Syndrome”, or the “arrogance of entitlement” – a mental condition that renders politicians numb or insensitive to anything outside of their own self-interest. Lord Owen notes that the syndrome crops up in dictatorships, or where leaders have remained in power for too long. Browne posits that the younger Birds are victims of this syndrome, as they seek to elevate their family interests above those of the ALP and of the nation as a whole.
In this connection the ALP leader declared that he expected Leader Emeritus Lester Bird to “do the right thing” regarding his nephews’ mischievous and divisive activities. Insofar as such behavior is permitted and indeed encouraged to continue, said Browne, the elder Bird may find himself in support of actions that might tend to undermine the true legacy of his father, National Hero Dr Sir Vere Cornwall Bird Sr, whose place in history Browne himself has pledged to maintain.
It would surely be a tragedy, the opposition leader noted, if the man holding the name of “Leader Emeritus” of the ALP should now become the agency for destroying the legacy laid down by his illustrious father. Yet this, Browne said, seems to be exactly what the runaway Birds are attempting to do.
The new leader of the ALP pointed out that he had been most “respectful and magnanimous” toward the man he unseated at the November 2012 convention, treating him in a manner unheard of even in the most highly developed democracy. Lester Bird’s acceptance of the position of Leader Emeritus of the ALP conferred on him the obligation to protect and defend the legacy of VC Bird Sr and the party he led to such heights.
As a consequence of a failure by the Leader Emeritus to recognize, protect, defend and further the aims and objectives of the Antigua Labour Party, Browne said, Lester Bird might find that any claim he might have to be named a Knight or National Hero might evaporate in the light of his abandonment of the ALP’s best interests.
Browne urged Lester Bird to place the best interests of the many faithful followers of the ALP ahead of any personal considerations.