Now that the ‘shouting and the noise’ is over, the hard work begins for the United Progressive Party (UPP). We’re talking about the tough business of putting the conciliatory rhetoric and the euphoria of the just-concluded convention into a real and practical forward thrust. To a number of observers, the UPP was in a bit of the doldrums. In fact, at times, the party appeared to be struggling to gain traction. This rather unhappy and undesirable state of affairs was made all the more painful to party true believers by the full-blown public challenge to the incumbent party leadership. To many, the internecine strife and challenges were ruinous, and never should have entered the public domain. These sorts of disagreements are often best settled behind closed doors and in a spirit of comity and goodwill. After all, good sense would dictate that the party present a united front at all times. When one group of party supporters are publicly saying that “I am of Paul” and others, “I am of Apollos,” that does not bode well for the future. These divisions can fray the fabric of the party and lead to disillusionment among the rank and file.
Plus, one ought never to forget that the common enemy thrives on discord in the opposition. Indeed, according to Dotsie Isaac Gellizeau, a poet laureate and a deep thinker who made an impassioned plea for the strivings and rancor to cease, the ruling regime was chortling and rubbing its hands with glee at the wrangling and the cacophony.
To the eternal credit of all concerned, personal ambition, egos and other petty differences were left at the door to the convention at Perry Bay. Apparently, good sense prevailed, and after the people had spoken (quite emphatically) by way of the ballot, the unsuccessful challengers were quite gracious in defeat, and they all rose up in a most admirable and magnanimous way to pledge loyalty to the leadership. And the greater cause! No sense in taking ones’ eyes from the greater good! They are true patriots!
Of course, we salute them for mounting that spirited challenge because it forced the incumbent leadership to pause and take stock. It made for some much-needed introspection. And that is a good thing. Many of the complaints and concerns of the challengers will have to be taken into consideration and result in a course correction. In other words, the plaints of the challengers must be treated with the gravitas and the respect that they deserve.
The challengers must certainly be thanked for their acknowledgement of the voices of the people, and their pledge to join hearts and hands and minds as one is certainly commendable. The post-election pictures of the hugs and smiles and thumbs-ups spoke volumes, and they portend well for the future.
Clearly, democracy is alive and well in the UPP, unlike in the ruling regime where the winners and losers are picked by er . . . well, one man and his inner clique. Tsk, tsk! And clearly, the bold and brazen dictatorship so manifest in the ruling party apparatus, has translated into the dictatorship so evident in the way that the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party is governing. When the ruling elite says, “Jump!” the party faithful whimper and ask, “How high?” It is pathetic! The groveling and the sniveling just to maintain their position and perks.
One could search the entire party apparatus and one would be hard-pressed to find even the smallest suggestion of a backbone. Weak-kneed and yellow-bellied, the entire lot!
Of course, this painful-to-watch genuflection and acquiescence brings to mind Sparrow’s classic song, SOLOMON, and its parody of Dr. Eric Williams’ high-handed approach to governing: “This land is mine; I am the boss! / What I say goes, and who vex get lost! / If I say that Solomon will be Minister of External Affairs, and you ain’t like it / Get the hell outta here! . . . / What I say goes, and no damn dog dare bark!” Oh well . . . we digress.
Congratulations to the UPP on its staging of a most buoyant and successful biennial convention. We certainly trust that the party will continue listening to the voices of the people, for after all, the party must remain true to its motto: “PEOPLE FIRST!” Moreover, here’s hoping that the party will use “the failures and mistakes of the past as stepping-stones to success.” We have a nation to rescue! Yours is an important charge, but we believe that you are equal to the task! Our future demands it! Antigua and Barbuda demands it! You cannot afford to be anything but!