Monday, 17 December 2012 02:30
By Rawlston Pompey
For most of mankind, life was in some way a fight. Thus in an environment that was filled with “...deception and/or treachery,” those who would wish to succeed or prevail, must fight purposefully and with a determination that would make the mountains rumble.
In a parliamentary democracy, leaders had persistently expressed the rhetorical comment “...All ideas contend.” This as experience has taught, seemed a “...farcical expression,” since most were disguisedly prepared to be infrequently tolerant of opposing views. Seen from the Mighty Sparrow’s perspective, “...If you criticize the government, they call it Treason.” In true democracies, as posited by King Obstinate “...I can criticize the government for how my money is spent; ...Next day I can go to Parliament.” Even in the absence of “...accountability” and the deafening silence of prominent societal members, that was irrefutably true.
THORNS IN FLESH
As it affect particular organizations, people with dissenting voices and demonstrated inclinations in mounting leadership challenges, had often been seen as “...Thorns in the Flesh.” . For many with noble and/or aspiring intentions, they must face the inevitable “...censorship; ...victimization; ...isolation and/or ...ostracization.” Former Senator Maureen Payne-Hyman, former national cricketer Enoch Lewis and former Deputy Prime Minister Wilmoth Daniel may, unreservedly, speak to these truths. Those who showed no inclination to fight, must be prepared to run, as in the case of “...Percival ‘Percy’ Simon,” who had reportedly wandered from a “...Lone pack of Chinese Wolves.”
ANTIDOTES TO ADVENTURISM
These options, nonetheless, were to be seen as“...Antidotes” to adventurism, rebellion and indiscipline, and were norms in maintaining “...organizational control, stability and cleansing.” Thus, in organizations with members of diverse background, personal ambitions, or power-driven motive, there were always the possibilities for “...the expected or unexpected; ...the thinkable or unthinkable; ...the explicable or inexplicable; ...the fathomable or unfathomable.” In such environment, there had always been a “...fierce competitiveness and rivalry for power. These were usually associated with “...internal strife; ...rifts; ...squabbles; ... open resistance; ...treachery; ...plots and coup d’état. Additionally divisiveness and/or practices of “...organizational Tribalism” were to be expected.
In civil society, it was about following “...democratic processes and principles.” In such society, it was the ability to perceive what was happening in the “...environment.” Thus, it was also to be understood that some developments might be “...pre-arranged, equally as much as some results may be pre-determined. In such environment, some actions were to be as decisively telling, even though it may be perceived as “...intimidating and undemocratic and/or un-statesman or un-lady like.” Take for instance, the alleged notorious behavioral display of “...administrative ruthlessness” by Grenadian Prime Minister Tilman Thomas, and an intrepid display of “...political ruthlessness” by Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minster Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
FIGHTING WITH FIRE
As situations dictate, leaders might be disposed in using every conceivable means, conventional or unconventional, fair or unfair. In maintaining governmental control, Thomas, said to be besetted by dissenting members and internal strife, “...indefinitely suspended the Grenadian Parliament” [Aug.2012]. Seeking to justify his action and/or brutish behavior, he reportedly said, “...It was an attempt to take over the party; ...It has nothing to do with leadership” [Wikipedia]. Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar was said to have “...publicly shredded to pieces,” an opponent’s Manifesto” in the presence of supporters [May, 2010]. While these behaviors were reflective of “...radicalism and/or ruthlessness,” leaders know that in such environment, it was about “...Fighting Fire with Fire
Miscalculations were said to have brought consequences to those without perceptive skills. It has been the experiences of many who had miscalculated the power of people. Many through ruthlessness and in-flexibility, who may have seen themselves as indispensable, had been humbled into submission, bringing consequences upon themselves. Thus, leaders-“...prospective or otherwise,” were to be seen as “...people- and service-oriented and consensually tolerant. They were to be seen as acting with nobility, obligingly, rationality, showing compassion and respect for human dignity and worth. More importantly, they were to be seen as demonstrating that they were not only acting in their best interest, but also subjected by, and submissive to their “...Voice and Will.”
WRIGHT GEORGE PHILOSOPHY
Likened to philosophers “...Plato and Socrates,” when former Commissioner “...Wright Fitzgerald George” commanded the national Law Enforcement agency, he had developed his own. He had often cautioned officers “...When push came to shove, it was better for a man to jump, than to be pushed.” There appeared to be merit in such philosophy. For fundamental to the preservation of the dignity of man, he shall know when to be “...firm and decisive; ...when to employ unconventional tactics and when to avoid ruthlessness.” More importantly, he shall be keenly observant in feeling the pulse of his organization, count the beats, address ailments, and like the “...Gambler’s Principle,”... know when to walk away; and ...when to run” [Kenny Rogers]. There may be plenty of time to avoid “...heart-failure; ...vilification; ...leadership squabbles; ...organizational miseries; ...frustration and humiliation.”
ARVEL GRANT/ PETER WICKHAM
Boastful of his “...masculinity, vitality and physical health,” former ambassador Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst may say confidently in a voice filled with expressions of hope, gleefulness and laughter, “...I am in tip top shape.” This state of well-being, he attributed to his caring “Sister IVY,” He had unceasingly showered her with “...expressions of gratitudinal graciousness.” These were to be seen as reflections of selflessness and “...an unbreakable bond” and unstinting brotherly and sisterly love.” These, unfortunately, appeared woefully lacking in an organization he sought courageously, but vainly, in Defending its “...integrity, image and stability.” Leading up to the November 25, 2012 ALP Convention, given the currency and frequency of reports of “...leadership squabbles,” the diplomatic effort of former ambassador had no effect on the perceptive skills of political Scientists/Analysts Arvel Grant and Peter Wickham.
Seemingly kept abreast of internal development, both had “...professionally” offered suggestions deemed “...unsolicited” for then “...incumbent leader”” of the ALP to consider “...transitional leadership.” Appearing to have detected “...insoluble adversarial rifts” within the group, both had advisedly, urged the dominant Lester Bird [1994-2004 & 2009-2012] and executive members, either “...Step aside voluntarily” or “...Begin negotiating a graceful exit for its leader” [Observer: Aug.16, 2012]. Perceived as an individual in control of his faculties; ...possessing a wealth of knowledge; ..adept communication skill, extraordinary wit, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst, had always defended his organization with all his energies.
The former Ambassador with an understanding of “...internal organizational politicking,” responding to assertions of “...rifts, power struggles and/or infighting,” had articulated exceptionally well in failed attempts at dispelling rumors affecting members. Denying that “...rifts” had developed among Executive members, even when there was turmoil, he had merely cited “...occasional disagreements among members.” Such efforts, however, were futile as “...insiders” were suspected of clandestinely filtering “...critical information of infighting” to the media.
The clearly incisive and proficient analysts Grant and Wickham [CADRES], political scientist/pollster/ media commentator, had done enough to have caused “...anxieties, panic and uncertainties” among advocates within the membership. They seemingly had spurred the “...ambitious, courageous and adventurous” in surging forward to the race to the leadership. However, whether or not influenced by the analytic views of the scientists/analysts or simply mounting “...strategic challenges in fulfillment of personal ambitions; or “...safeguarding organizational interest,” it saw senior members, “...Honourable Gaston Browne, Molwyn Joseph, and Robin Yearwood,” vying for the prestigious organizational and parliamentary leadership positions.
BIRDS FLOCKING TOGETHER
As it was in the wider society, so it was in organizations where people with particular interests were more likely to group and bond together. This, without a shadow of doubt, supported the cliché “...Birds of a feather flocked together.” Invariably, they shared and expressed similar interest/views. Contrastingly, people with peculiar ways, unfathomable attitudes, shared different perspectives, must stay far apart. In a changing political climate, as it is with organizations interacting with such environment, leaders must be acutely mindful of “...organizational torrents and uneasiness” that had often lead to “...strained relations and divisiveness.” Awareness of these situations had been known to have averted that which may have been “...internally triggered. Thus, even though they had “...flocked together,” those with ignoble intentions” had often become problematic.
Few “...feathered birds” were as skilled as those called “...Wood Peckers.” Created with a unique pecking instinct, with razor-sharp beaks, they were capable of making holes in the trunks of trees that even man with his “...superior intellect, ingenuity and/or skills,” was unable to achieve without the aid of implements. In organizations-formal/informal, humans were known to have displayed “...Instinctive Behaviors.” They were known to have engaged in “...Feather Plucking,” but only to the extent of seizing opportunities in “...Plucking” positions from colleagues. This was all part of organizational culture. Sometimes, this was done as a result of “...treachery, exploitation, manipulation and/or prostituting on an organization, beset by “...power struggles.” Some Members of the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament may attest to these truths.
It was the experience that “...disloyal and divisive members” have always sought to create situations that were likely to precipitate “...adversarial or chaotic situations- friction and confrontation.” These were obtained in some organizations, and no doubt might have dogged the ALP Leadership and its members. There was irrefutable evidence of “...Organizational Plucking.” This was previously mounted against House Member Honourable Robin Yearwood and Senator Lennox Weston [Wikipedia: 2004/2009]. Before parliamentary colleagues Honourable Gaston Browne and Asot Michael had hardly uttered the magic word “...Abracadabra,” Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin was covered all over with “...feathers of a red robin.” Then as the “...magic wand” was waved, House Speaker D. Giselle Isaac-Arindell was informing Members that there was a “...Cute” Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.”
THE GANG OF ‘8’
Given the apparent cultural development within the Antigua Labour Party (ALP), that previously saw the advent of a “Gang of 8.” In a bold attempt, led by former Opposition leader, eight members had attempted to remove Sir Vere Cornwall Bird from the Prime Ministership . As part of organizational change, that may be achieved either through “...Democratic processes or undemocratic means. Research showed that former parliamentarians had concluded that the senior leader had “...outlived his tenure and effectiveness. That may have been an impediment to those who felt that they were more innovative in changing the national socio-economic and political landscape. So they thought. The misguided parliamentarians appeared to have miscalculated the power of the elderly statesman, who had forced several on bended knees seeking repentance. Those who may also attest to this truth were “.....Sir Adolphus Freeland; John St. Luce; ...Reuben Harris (deceased); ...Hilroy Humphrey; ...Hugh Marshall; ...Henderson ‘Hendy’ Simon; ...Eustace Cochrane and son, Lester Bryant Bird.”
NO CONFIDENCE MOTION
Interestingly, an occurrence that seemed to have precipitated internal friction within the ALP, as it had also flabbergasted many, may have been the “...ignominy” resulting from the “...unannounced withdrawal of a parliamentary “...No Confidence Motion.” This may have been seen as imprudent, and a “...Fatal Decision” by former Opposition Leader Lester Bird. Reasonable inferences may have been drawn that the “...aborted motion” may have affected the “...overall confidence in the leadership” at a crucial time in the life of the group. This assertion was premised on expressions of “...Disappointments” by senior Executive members over the lack of knowledge of the intended withdrawal.
Relying upon their expertise and professional experiences, Grant and Wickham appeared to have exploited every opportunity that presented itself. For instance, mere days prior to the convention, Barbadian-born political scientist Peter Wickham, seemingly masking behind his scientific knowledge, appeared to have used “...Reversed Psychology” on the delegates.” He posited “...Prime Minister Spencer would welcome a win for Lester Bird” [Radio Observer]. Compounded by these were polls “...surreptitiously suggesting weakened prospects” of an ALP success at the 2014 elections. Indirectly, he may have been suggesting casting votes in favor of challenger/s to his leadership.
There was widespread suggestions of dissatisfaction, repeated grumblings and infighting among the hierarchy with “...clear intent in ousting the incumbent leader” from the leadership. There were also suggestions of “...connivance” within the group. This appeared to have been designed in dismantling the “...Bird Nest.” Though, by specie, physicality, reason and intellect, the Leader was a “...Featherless Bird,” other “...featherless birds” reportedly flocked together. These included “...Red robins and Brown doves” watched by an archangel called “...Michael.” They had sought to destroy the “...Bird’s Nest,” aided by “...Maul” and a mild “...Wind” blown from the direction of “...Mary North.” Before Cabinet could enquire into “...APUA’s” indebtedness to “... APC,” [Dec.15, 2012], delegates had “...pulled the plug,” thereby suppressing his leadership powers. The “...Brown Dove,” through a Convention [Nov.25, 2012] was seen as the only bird in flight to the “...Coveted Nest,” reportedly “...precisionally-guided by the “...influence and affluence of an archangel.”
The impromptu withdrawal had prompted “...Joint and individual Statements” by Senior Members Honourable Molwyn Joseph, Robin Yearwood and former Chairman Gaston Browne. In the skillfully crafted statement, they stated “...We, the senior leaders of the ALP utilize this medium to express our ‘Deepest Disappointment’ at the loss of an opportunity to debate the Motion of No Confidence which we expected to have been tabled in the Lower House yesterday.” It was obvious that these members had issues over the “...Pre-mature Abortion,” and like the many supporters, were feeling the pain, agony and despair of the decision to withdraw. In his own persona, the new leader wrote “...Therefore, we who have placed so much ‘Trust and Faith’ in the Antigua Labour Party must not allow our disappointment to destroy that Trust and Faith; ...I for one will continue to fight to keep the ALP unified and strong” [Caribarena: May 31 & June 1, 2012].
Following the aborted parliamentary “...No Confidence Motion,” disquiet was said to be rife among factions within the group. Secret meetings were reportedly held by “...splinter groups” within the executive. Seemingly unaware or unsuspected of the development of “...Tribalistic Tendencies” among fractionally over half the parliamentary membership, executive and supporters,” the incumbent leader was said to have been forced into taking a “...defiant and defensive stance” against advisors; confidante, friend and foe. This suggested that the “...Strategic Moment” had arrived for challenges to be mounted for a paradigm shift in leadership. Except for the former, who endureth to the end, the latter contenders stunningly and dramatically bowed out of the race, to the ire and chagrin of factionalized supporters.
BITTERNESS AND BICKERING
This may have prompted Senate Member Honourable Lennox Weston engaging himself in “...sober reflections” on the failure in executing organizational initiatives [UNCUT: Nov.28, 2012]. He spoke regretfully and dejectedly to the loss of an opportunity, citing the unexpected and vexatious aborted parliamentary “...No Confidence Motion” [May 30, 2012]. It was clear that the withdrawal had provoked internal organizational power struggles, bitterness, bickering and “...Executive Rivalry.” The task was now thrust upon Bishop Charlesworth Browne to wrangle a commitment to peace within a seemingly irreconcilable factious group.
The issue under consideration was clearly not of the incumbent’s “...mental faculty, nor of his intellect, “...soundness of memory and/or discretion.” These then seemed flawless. Feathers, nonetheless, had to be “...plucked.” Hence, Pluckers, needed something more fundamental and sensitive i.e. “...health condition; ... robustness; ...physicality; ...agility and capacity” in responding to the rigors of critical challenges associated with organizational leadership. Whether or not receptive or responsive to change, some pragmatists and/or aspiring leaders had showed “...eagerness, with drive, energy and enthusiasm. They stood in readiness to “...assume responsibility, and “...charting a new course with declared intention in bringing new perspective to leadership, organizational cohesiveness and hope to its disenchanted members.”
From where former Prime Minister sat [2004-2009], he would have known that when he spoke to “...opportunists,” his organization had many with similar ambitions and capabilities.” Reminiscing of past experience, he spoke of close friends and allies, including people, reportedly “...made into men” through opportunities provided for their “...financial success.” He had helped in transforming sundry men from lowly status of “...Straw,” into men of Substance.” When misfortune struck, showing ingratitude, many he had caused to be propelled into prominence had “...jumped ship” and switched allegiance.” Then, as fate would have it, he suffered a devastating electoral defeat by Dr. Errol Cort, his former Attorney General and Cabinet colleague, relegating him to an opposition candidate in the March13, 2009 elections.
COME BACK KID
Four years in the doldrums, he persevered, rallying back as the “...Come Back Kid.” Avenging his defeat in the March 13, 2009 general elections, he regained opposition parliamentary membership. Since then, he appeared to have been bedevilled by critical and sensitive issues of “...health, infighting and leadership struggles.” Mentally, he appeared stable and intellectually collected. In the eyes of the citizens, he became politically and influentially weakened, by those of “...suspect loyalty-those close to him; ...for and against him.” Constantly kept in focus by group members, critics, the media and the political scientists/analysts, he had become embroiled in fierce struggles in remaining at the helm of an organization, dominated by his father, Sir Vere Cornwall Bird [1910-1994: Tenure PM 1981-994].
THE GANG OF ‘4’
Seemingly replicating the “...failed adventurism of the “...1994 Gang of 8,” a “...Gang of 4” [John French II] had manifested itself within a “...Group of 7” opposition parliamentarians. With similar intentions or objectives, they had bonded together in removing “...incumbent and reportedly “...physically ailing” leader Lester Bird” from leading the organization and opposition parliamentary debates. Spurred by the exploits of analysts Arvel Grant and Peter Wickham, there was said to be a deep sense of purpose and urgency, pronounced by reported “...secret meetings,” to determine inter alia, “...Strategies.” Those identified were said to be current organizational and parliamentary leader “...Honourable Gaston Browne; ...Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin; ...Asot Michael and ...Eustace ‘Teko’ Lake” . The main challenger, Chairman Gaston Browne had made his intentions and/or aspirations abundantly clear, if not “...pellucid” [Lester Bird]. The Targets-“... incumbent’s Dynastical Positions; ...suspect physical health condition; ... political sycophants; ...loyalist members and non-supportive factions.”
These necessitated strategic planning; “...covert/overt operations; ...properly coordinated and clinically executed.” The methodologies considered for employment in achieving their objectives, included organizational tribalism. These were to be “...all embracing”- loyalists; ...colleagues and winning constituency strongholds and other private support-bases, protagonists of organizational reform and wooing even antagonists.” Pre-emptive strikes were to be made, while “...strategic battles” were to be waged on all fronts. There were to be utilization and employment of available resources-human/financial; ...allied by interest groups and “...propaganda machines,” including- “...media commentators/political scientists/analysts/pollsters and Talk show hosts for instigating division and waging “...psychological warfare” [Sean Bird-nephew]. Other external forces considered were; “...Pits of Serpents and venomous Snakes” and an equally “...dangerous pack of Wolves, said to be under the control of Vere Bird III” and those wandering “...lonely and aimlessly away,”
Indecision had been seen as a sign of weakness in leadership. It has been known to have provoked the inevitable for leaders, particularly those seen “...fluttering like a flag on an Antiguan registered tanker” on the high seas. This was also known to have resulted in “…loss of confidence; …provoked antagonism; ...triggered suspicions of collusion; …spurring speculations that had often resulted in squabbles; … dissenting voices, while engendering bitterness and prolonging strained relations among people.” In such environment, the first order of business for any leader was attempting to “...hear grievances; ...showing empathy and impartiality; ...making appeasement; ...soliciting cooperation; ...pooling ideas in reaching group consensus and/or ...amicable or satisfactory resolution of differences.” Most of all, these required conscious and determined efforts of members in eliminating “...elements and/or influences” conducive to “...fragmentation and political tribalism.” These were some of the developments that analysts looked for and used them either for fulfilling ambitions of rivals or to precipitate the destruction of the defiant. These were that which may have produced “...THORN BIRDS” in some organizations, not the least a clearly factious Antigua Labour Party (ALP).