By Makeida Antonio
The ruling ABLP’s slate of candidates for the upcoming election continues to attract scrutiny – with the constituency of St Peter garnering particular attention.
The party released its slate of candidates last Friday, revealing Rawdon Turner to be its pick for the seat currently held by embattled MP Asot Michael.
However, political analyst Arvel Grant held the view that the decision not to have Shermain Jeremy represent the party – as Prime Minister Gaston Browne has previously hinted – “disappointing”.
“If she was running, Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party would have gotten closer to the 33 or 35 percent that the United Nations indicated is a minimum number of female participants running in general elections. I am significantly disappointed that she is not there,” Grant said on Observer AM yesterday.
Jeremy could not be reached for comment. The journalist, tourism official and former Queen of Carnival indicated in 2020 that she would be willing to run.
Prime Minister Browne said last month it was “unlikely” Michael would run on the ABLP’s ticket amid an ongoing rift between Michael and the party.
However, Michael told Observer yesterday that he would be running for the seat.
“I am the MP for the constituency and only the people of St Peter can say I am not running,” he said. “The Prime Minister does not own the Labour Party and we are not operating under a dictatorship,” he added.
Grant went on to take note of strides taken by the ABLP to be more inclusive of women in politics in the future. The women seeking to represent the party in the next poll include MP Maria Browne for St John’s Rural East, Senator Gail Christian for St John’s Rural West, MP Samantha Marshall for St Mary’s South, and Senator Knacyntar Nedd-Charles for Barbuda.
“I am also noting though that the Labour Party seems to be making a good effort at having a fair number of women on this slate. I see that the candidate in Barbuda is a woman,” Grant commented.
He went on to highlight the lack of economic relief being offered by the ABLP as a threat to the party’s re-election. He recommended meaningful messaging and action by the party to combat the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic for people who lost jobs and, often, the ability to purchase basic necessities as a result.
Meanwhile, the Covid-19 vaccination mandate is being lauded as a major accomplishment by the sitting administration. Grant suggested that the ABLP use the success of Antigua and Barbuda achieving a high vaccination rate in its campaigning.