Editorial: Days of our political lives

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These are early days yet in the political race, but we are going to go out on a limb and make a prediction. Antigua and Barbuda is going to run out of popcorn before the next election if the soap-opera environment continues to heat up.  
In the most recent episode of ‘Days of our political lives,’ newcomer Neil Williams, shocked the audience and announced that he will enter the race in the Rural East Constituency. The same constituency that is currently represented by living hero, and former prime minister, Sir Lester Bird, and being contested by Maria Bird-Browne, the wife of the current Prime Minister Gaston Browne.  (Cue the surprised stare at the camera.)
Although Williams is described as a newcomer, he has explained that he had expressed interest before but was asked to take a back seat.  As well, he described himself as being well-known in the constituency and answers whenever called, “whether it be in the area of employment or assisting them with getting lands.”  We should mention that Mr. Williams is the project supervisor for the National Housing Development and Urban Renewal Company Limited, also known as the government housing project.  
You know, the “500 homes in 500 days” project?  Wait, maybe you know it as the ‘2000 homes in the first five years’? Or was that 1000?  Or, the 300 homes by the end of 2016? Or, 500 homes in the first term?  Just, pick one and let’s move one.  A good soap opera does not get hung up on details.
Already we have seen one of our actors ‘voluntarily’ exit stage left while another has been pushed.  Senator Shenella Govia surrendered her bid to represent the constituency shortly after Ms. Bird-Browne announced her interest, or so we are told …  Meanwhile, Senator Michael Freeland, the apparent victim of a robbery, was given the boot from the stage because … well, we are not quite sure.  
For a while, watchers were convinced that Senate President Alincia Williams-Grant would have bowed out, so as to leave an uncontested race for the previous newcomer, the prime minister’s wife. But that has not happened, so the plot thickens and the suspense grows. The senate president has not thrown in the towel and there is a new face that has been introduced to the viewers of this soap …  Hang on … need to refresh the popcorn bucket.
Whether he will gain enough fans to continue as a regular cast member is left to be seen but he has added some excitement to the race, claiming that he is not a fan of polling to determine who runs on the party’s ticket, presumably casting shade on the thought that this is a popularity contest rather than political representation.  Ha!  Really?  We expect that he will soon find out how barley grows around these parts.
That said, we in no way want to dissuade the good gentleman from joining the cast.  He has already brought some more excitement to what was already an entertaining cast of characters with his searing criticism of Sir Lester’s representation and his own background.  
And speaking of Sir Lester.  He was unable to make his highly-anticipated cameo where it was expected that he would have announced his political retirement and his endorsement of … wait for it … his niece and current wife of Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Maria Browne-Bird.  (Cue the dramatic organ music!)
The fans are already picking their favourites and trying to guess the ending with some saying that this is all part of the plot-twist to oust the senate president. They claim that because Williams-Grant has not bowed out, Williams has been pushed forward to split the vote and ensure that the pre-ordained heir to the Rural East seat is near-guaranteed the win.  That’s not a bad theory and we wait to see if it plays out or whether the writers have another twist to deliver.
Meanwhile, others have predicted a different mid-season ending – one where the party faithful will rise up and object to being force-fed a candidate.  In that scenario, they will demand a primary while calling for a more dignified end to Sir Lester’s career and greater respect for their self-determination.  Now, that would be entertainment!  We can’t wait for the next episode.
All we can say is that we will remain glued to this one with popcorn in hand, and without shame we will announce to the world that we watch ‘Days of our political lives’ and we love it! (Cue the theme music!)

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