EDITORIAL: The best consultant is common sense

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Our first reaction after seeing the report entitled “Post Election Report, Why we failed & the way forward”, which was purportedly presented to the United Progressive Party in the wake of their 2014 election performance, was to analyse the author’s comments in detail.  However,  after reading the dated report and considering the contents, in the shadow of the 2018 general election, it was apparent that it would be fruitless exercise as the UPP seemingly ignored what is said to be its very own report.
We must admit, we were, and still are a bit skeptical of the report since it does not bear the name of the author/consultant.  For a document like this to be taken seriously, the intended audience needs to place their faith in the competence of the author.  Without that reference, what weight does the document carry?   In any case, it is an interesting read and if we were to guess, it was more done as an internal, reflective exercise than commissioned through the services of an outside consultant, based on the liberal use of “we” and “our”.
While there is little that turns on the existence of this report, we are perplexed as to why so much in the report was ignored as there were obvious elements of the UPP’s 2014 election defeat repeated in the most recent election.. 
Chief among them relates to the main campaign message of “hope” that anchored the UPP campaign.  The author makes it clear that “Our argument should’ve been that the UPP was the lesser of two evils – not that we were a hope that was needed ‘now, more than ever’.”  Not that we particularly agree that any party should cast itself as “evil” in any way but we understand the point.  The UPP had exhausted the goodwill of the people and could not hang its hat on the promise of ‘hope’.  Better to try and convince the people that they remained the better alternative rather than to continue promising what they already failed to deliver.
Apparently, the UPP was hip to the negativity of casting itself as the lesser evil but failed to see the point of the argument.  Fast forward to 2018, and the party dove head first into a weak campaign message that used an already undelivered promise of ‘hope’ as its foundation.  We suspect that if the UPP were to solicit this report from the same advisor, he or she would need only look into the archives, change the date and hit print. 
Then, there is the section entitled “Infighting Was Rampant” in which the author makes the point that “Disunity kills. And in this election the United in the United Progressive Party was in name only.”  Well, if infighting was considered an issue in 2014, then we would love to hear the author’s take on the period since then.  A period of time that saw some of the most ferocious infighting ever witnessed in the UPP.  So vicious that it eventually saw the ouster of Joanne Massiah and the birth of the newest party on the block, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA).  Many UPP supporters point to the bruising leadership battle between Lovell and Massiah as the biggest blunder in the time between the elections. 
One of the more interesting things in the report was the author’s prediction for the next election, which was eventually held early in 2018.  The author stated, “Let me be clear: we will not win the 2019 election if we re-run the UPP of today. We have to make a credible case that we’re the young and fresh party of real change.”  Adding, “In order to maximise our chances in the next general election, we need to select our candidates early to give them the time to get to know their communities and give them the opportunity to represent their constituents as the UPP custodian ‘for that constituency …  “.  Admittedly, the UPP did change their slate of candidates to a large extent but it did not meet the criteria of selecting them early and giving them the chance to get to their communities. 
The document also shows just how much our elections have changed.  The focus is no longer on the issues but rather the personalities and the pre-packaged messages.  The author
actually goes on to praise the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) for a stronger campaign and for a more effective presentation of their message; even the negative message delivered by Gaston Browne which was described as, “His negative message was clear – the “incompetent Baldwin Spencer regime has brought us to economic disaster” that he repeated ad nauseum at every opportunity.”
It is unfortunate that our politics has followed the rest of the world and moved away from positive debate of the issues that affect our nation and towards catchy slogans and negative marketing but it is what it is.  All the parties do it and we see no signs that things will change.  Sitting in our seat as political observers, it would appear that much of what goes
on in our political domain really comes down to common sense, which unfortunately is not so common any more.
The results of 2014 and 2018 require no great analysis to figure out what happened.  Apply a little bit of common sense and you will see that the people want the best representation available in the two-party system that operates in our bit of paradise.  If you are in power and you are unable to convince the people that you have done a good enough job to continue, then you will soon find yourself in opposition.  It is that simple.  No need for highly paid consultants, just use a bit of common sense.  Of course, if any of the parties would like to pay us handsomely to regurgitate the obvious, we will gladly oblige.  We will now see if the UPP takes its own advice as it prepares for the next election.
We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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