Ian 'Magic' Hughes
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 02:31
By Ian Magic Hughes
On Thursday the two political parties in Antigua & Barbuda, the ruling United Progressive Party and Antigua Labour Party used the cover of Labour Day to kick off their respective 2014 General Election campaigns.
The ALP may deny using the Labour Day cover since its rally was held at 46 North Street, home of the Antigua Trades and Labour Union.
Nonetheless, it’s common knowledge that the ALP and the AT&LU are one of the same, at least that’s what leader of the ALP said.
ALP officials used that ‘one and the same’ argument as a part of its defense into the case brought against ALP members at last year’s Labour Day march.
In any case, I think that I would be on safe ground to state that both rallies were not very well attended.
Not too many people seemed enthusiastic enough to brave the showers that fell that night.
In this piece, I focus on the unchanged ALP looking to retake the reign of power from the ruling United Progressive Party.
Obviously the UPP would disagree that the ALP is favoured to take the 2014 elections despite admitting that the party is losing popularity.
Well, if these two parties do not go through serious changes, the real losers at the 2014 polls will be the people of Antigua & Barbuda.
Imagine another term under the unguided, non-transparent and unaccountable UPP.
Surely, this country cannot sustain another period of poor fiscal policies under the UPP, and just the thought is unnerving.
Even scarier is an ALP government that is divided to the core and unchanged from 2004 when the people booted them out of office.
Two weeks ago the leader of the ALP Lester Bird and a number of his colleagues announced to the public that the party is united and ready to take over the country and lead us into a better future.
One of the persons making the case of ALP unity was deputy leader Gaston Browne who knows very well that a united ALP is the same as a transparent UPP.
True to form, member of the ALP Vere Bird III publicly accused the elected members of the party of being muzzled on the issue of the Wadadli (Chinese) Power Plant.
There is a saying that ‘if you throw a stone in a pig pen, the one that squeals is the one that got hit.’
Bird III never mentioned a name, but Browne felt compelled to answer, especially after the Daily Observer carried a story that reported corruption amongst ALP elected members.
Bird III questions the accusation being attributed to him.
On Saturday, Browne, while claiming that the ALP is united called out Bird III and even suggested that if he (Browne) was pushed he would expose the members who took to claim that the said engines were used.
And while Browne, his colleagues and their supporters may take this ‘back and forth’ by members making such divisive claims as normal, reasonable people know different.
This conversation is just a small part of the dysfunction that is the ALP.
The topic of corruption seemed unnervingly normal to Browne and it begs the question, are these guys the frontrunners to lead the country in the next elections?
Is corruption going to be an issue like it has always been with the ALP?
What’s more frightening is that Browne intends to be Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda, yet he waits to be pushed before he reveals a criminal act.
I can recall previous years when Lester Bird was Prime Minister he claimed he knew who the drug dealers in the country were yet he never mentioned their names.
Is Browne taking a page out of Bird’s book?
As the man to be handed the top job by Bird, maybe Browne has to appear Bird-like.
Well I hope not.
I do hope that Browne recognizes the errors of his ways and make the necessary changes or he may not have the privilege that the former PM made such a mess of.
Now, why would Browne wait to be pushed?
Browne may have to disclose why the party is not on common ground on this extremely troubling issue that will place the nation in debt of some US$52 million.
On a matter that has the potential of ‘taking out the UPP’, the ALP cannot take a common stance for the good of the party and the country as they continue to preach.
It’s clear that whether the engines for the WPP are old or new the contract signed by government appears to be illegal according to members of the parliament.
As one of the more vocal member of the opposition, Browne does not seem too perturbed, perhaps he does not recall, whether the government tabled the bill in parliament as allegedly acquired by law.
If Browne knows better, he should let his colleagues know the truth and stop them from going down that the wrong path.
Remember, they are united.
Anyway, why would anyone trust the ALP to govern any better than the failed UPP?
No matter who is right, Bird III or Browne, the ALP is not the answer to the woes affecting Antigua & Barbuda.
The ALP preaches lack of transparency and accountability by the UPP, but they were just as reckless when they were in power.
What would become of the IHI matter if the ALP was return to office?
And what of Browne?
Does he have enough details or facts to claim that his colleagues did in fact defraud the same system they are fighting to operate?
Don’t the people deserve the truth?
If Browne became prime minister would he continue the court matter against his colleagues in the interest of the nation?
See, these are just some of the questions that arise when the ALP is named as the government.
And why doesn’t the ALP understand that they will have to change their ways if they are to be the ruling party?
Not if and when they are elected but now, starting with the vetting of its candidates.
But like I have said before, I reiterate the ALP is not about good governance but power and with that they will not change.
According to the ALP’s constitution if there are more than one person interested in representing the ALP in any constituency where an incumbent candidate previously lost there should be a primary to decide.
Browne is asking members to forego their constitutional right to allow for a poll.
Unbelievable, but true.
Is this the way the ALP will operate in office?
The ALP thinks very little of the people of Antigua & Barbuda.
Lester Bird still believes that the reason they lost in 2004 was due to the fact that the people simply had enough of the ALP.
In two weeks, the rhetoric coming out of the ALP was enough to scare anyone into thinking twice before making that very important X.
Growing up in the sixties, we played a game in the neighborhood called “who stole the cookie from the cookie jar”. At the start of the game, each child picked and we would randomly call a number as we sang the song.
“Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar? (number called) stole the cookie from the cookie jar, who me, yes you, couldn’t be, then who, number (number called) stole the cookie from the cookie jar.”
The party hoping to take power is playing the same game but this time it’s who took what for the Chinese generators.
It’s a pity that this is where we have to go, but with the failures of the UPP it’s almost inevitable; incredible to say the least.