Editorial: Fall in line

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The revelation was a bombshell. The Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) Member of Parliament for the St. John’s Rural South Constituency, Eustace ‘Teco’ Lake revealed that he had no hand in drafting his resignation letter. Boom!
Take a step back for a moment and try to analyze what this means. The ABLP drafted a letter on Minister Lake’s letterhead and, according to Lake, impersonated him and his intentions in a fraudulent resignation. The letter was then circulated and held up as being genuine, all while the minister was fighting for his life overseas. It is a diabolical plan that is near impossible to believe.
Had the minister, himself, not come out and made the revelation, we would have probably chalked it up to another crazy conspiracy theory. Wow!
It is hard to put into words just how incredible this situation is. Prime Minister Gaston Browne has now confirmed “the letter was written by the chief of staff,” but added that it was “with the acknowledgement and consent of Comrade ‘Teco’ Lake.” But if that was the case, why didn’t the party make that important gem known when the letter was presented as coming from the hand of Minister Lake? And why would Minister Lake say what he has said?
We should add that PM Browne made it clear that he was not entertaining any more questions on the matter. He literally said, “I have nothing more to say on the issue.” Once again, serious matters relating to government personnel are brushed away with a ‘no comment’ response, another slap in the face of the people and a demonstration that transparency is more talk than action. The administration demonstrates zero accountability to the people in the face of damning and direct evidence that someone was trying to hoodwink the people.
The claim that it is an internal party matter is hogwash. This is directly related to a sitting Member of Parliament who is a servant of the people and who is paid by the people; not the ABLP! The party certainly has jurisdiction over its candidates, but the people still have a right to know.
We had wondered why the original letter did not bear Minister Lake’s signature, but we did not think that was a big issue. The minister was indeed sick, and there were already rumours that he would no longer be running as a candidate in his constituency. The letter seemed to confirm the rumours, was presented as genuine and there was no way of contacting the minister for verification. He was, after all, very sick! This just proves, once again, that big lies are best founded on little truths.
‘Teco’ Lake can be considered nothing but a party faithful because, for the man to be taken advantage of at a low ebb of his life, and still support those who advantaged him, is truly amazing. But that could be because, he has accepted the dictatorial style of the party’s leadership and the nasty world of politics into which he plunged himself. In his words, “One of the things I learnt coming back home [to Antigua] is that the political scene in this country is twisted. There is nothing clean, and you have to fall in line.” That is an extremely sad and disturbing indictment.
ABLP Leader Emeritus Sir Lester Bird will find common ground with his comrade, for he, too, was sent to pasture without his knowledge. We can all remember the former prime minister lamenting the lack of civility shown by Prime Minister Browne in announcing his retirement from active politics without consultation. The PM proclaimed “Lester Bird is not fit to run and he will not be allowed to run,” citing the decision taken was in Sir Lester’s best interests.
In response, the living national hero said, “I do think that as the former prime minister and as the person who has been there for so long, that at least I should be allowed the civility to make the pronouncement rather than for me to be reading it in the newspaper. I do not think that does me any service.” It would have been more entertaining if he had used a phrase, “yuh pass yuh place!”
Like Comrade ‘Teco’, Comrade Lester, after some initial bluster, soon fell in line and did what he was told by the party’s leadership.
Robin Yearwood may have sidestepped this culling of the old guard but he seems to be next on the forced retirement list. In early November, while announcing the retirements of Comrades Lester Bird and ‘Teco’ Lake, Prime Minister Browne assessed the likely political lifespan of the Commonwealth’s longest serving parliamentarian by saying, “I have no doubt that he [Robin Yearwood] has at least one other term in him.” Maybe he can hold on to the “at least” part of that bit of soothsaying.
So, while Sir Lester and his comrade ‘Teco’ Lake hold hands and rock their time away on the verandah of retirement, they should make sure that they save a seat for Sir Robin. He might join them sooner than he knows (or wants).

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