Many eyebrows were raised a few days ago when a prominent pollster backtracked from his earlier positions that the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) was going to win most of the seats in our upcoming election. As had been his weird habit, he lambasted the political leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP), and prattled on with asinine reasons as to why the ABLP would be returned to office with an overwhelming mandate. (We shan’t repeat the nonsense, not worth the expenditure of ink and paper). Of course, nobody listening to his diatribe, save for the ABLP true believers, could fathom the reasoning behind, or the extent of the supposed ABLP victory, especially since the ABLP has let down the people of this blessed country, in ways both great and small. It is not a stretch to suggest that Antiguans and Barbudans are deeply disappointed in the roughshod, bullying, disdainful and dismissive manner in which this Administration has treated us and managed the affairs of State. (See the recent treatment being meted out to Mary, she of Dominican extraction, on the waterfront in the Point). Not to mention the shocking incompetence, and the legion of broken promises and disingenuous happy-talk. All said and done, the words that appeared on the wall at Belshazzar’s feast (Daniel 5:25) – “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin” (“Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting”) are quite appropriate for this lightweight Administration.
There’s a palpable sense of foreboding and dread if, Heaven forfend, this mediocre Administration is returned to office for another five years. Beware! In the event of such an electoral transgression, the few remaining acreages of Crown lands that we have left would be very quickly divvied up between those in high places and their wealthy cronies. Barbuda would become a playground for the rich and famous – and the grand tradition and way of life of the Barbudan people, spanning several centuries, would vanish from this fair land, a sacrificial lamb on the altar of greed and excess. Our largest wetland area in the WISEZ would soon disappear, a victim to unbridled development and environmental heresy. YIDA would continue to be a pipe dream, a white elephant, if you will, serving no useful purpose. As would the state of the art hospital on Nugent Avenue, and the Sunshine Hub Car Park. He of a high place would once again hike gas prices, (He has only lowered them as a cheap political ploy to hoodwink and seduce voters) and he would continue to ‘cuss-off’ all and sundry if we look at him too hard.
Of course, the septuagenarians and the octogenarians in this reelected ABLP Administration would essentially fall asleep, collecting the fat paycheck and all the other perquisites of a high place for doing ABSOLUTELY nothing. If we think that they are currently quite difficult to find, and that they are unresponsive to the needs of their constituents and the country, please be advised that they would become Rip Van Winkles, DO-NOTHING MEMBERS of Parliament. After all, they would be well aware that an electoral victory this time around, would certainly be their last. Mark you, their last five years in office would be a no-holds-barred honeymoon. Let us deny them that honeymoon.
Anyway, this good pollster recently shared sentiments to the effect that he is seeing a movement away from the ABLP, and that the UPP is more organised. Said the good pollster on a recent OBSERVER AM broadcast on our very own OBSERVER radio, withDaren Matthew Ward: “It (UPP) is more organised, clearly, and it is a force to be reckoned with now, than it was on other occasions. The other factor is that the Antigua Barbuda Labour party is also an older government, and older governments tend to be more susceptible to negative electoral swings. And I think that that will be a critical factor at this point in time. So you have a strengthened UPP, you have an older Antigua Barbuda Labour Party. So, I sense that a strengthened DNA helps the ABLP. As far as the UPP is concerned, it will strengthen, or it has strengthened. It is clearly more organized than it was in the past, and I think that this will help the UPP’s fortunes. The ABLP has therefore to anticipate some level of negative swing against it . . .” You don’t say, Mr Pollster. You are spot-on in your analysis.
To be sure, the good pollster is not telling Antiguans and Barbudans something that we did not already know – that there is a stiff wind of change blowing throughout this fair land. The people have been experiencing ABLP fatigue. There is a very real sense that this ABLP is a spent force when it comes to new, innovative and progressive thinking on the many issues that we face. Not to mention the fact that people have been observing how those in high places live high on the hog, while the masses of the people struggle and suffer. It is an open secret that every blessed thing that moves in this country, is to the benefit of someone in a high place, or someone connected to someone in a high place. Seems, the local oligarchs are ruling the roost, and their Russian counterparts are nodding approvingly.
Of course, even as we are aghast at the greed and the selfishness displayed by those in high places, we are equally astounded by their mediocrity and ineptitude. Talk about men of straw! We are so very tired of them! Actually, we are reminded of Oliver Cromwell’s whoremaster’s speech to the Rump Parliament in 1653: “Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? . . .Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? . . .You have been sat here too long for any good that you may have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with thee. In the name of God, go!” That is a growing and pervasive sentiment here in our fair State. Ask the good pollster.
Interestingly, while we are pleased that the good pollster seemed to have found religion, we suspect that his Damascus Road conversion may have had something to do with the very credible poll recently conducted by trusted pollster, Linley Winter. In that poll, which comports with the senses and sensibilities of Antiguans and Barbudans, the UPP is leading in five of the seven constituencies polled. The UPP is tied with the ABLP in one, and the ABLP leads in another. We await Winter’s polling of the other ten constituencies. Not that we expect much of a surprise there. The UPP will again be leading in most of those as well.
After blowing the call on the recent Grenada elections, the good pollster is concerned about his credibility. After all, this is how he makes his living. He cannot continue blowing election calls. So, inasmuch as he may have been enarmoured with this incumbency, never passing on an opportunity to sing, Te Labour laudamus (We praise you, oh Labour), the reality is that the people have become disaffected. It is evident in our responses to the polling questions. It is manifest in that dispirited look on our faces. Mercifully, the good pollster is joining the choir.
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