The United Progressive Party (UPP) Chairwoman, D. Gisele Isaac has pushed back against the assertion of regional political analysts that the UPP will have a difficult time regaining seats in Parliament unless they change leadership.
On Tuesday, Isaac said that while listening to OBSERVER media’s Big Issues, she was shocked at the comments made.
Professor of African and Caribbean Studies at Arizona State University, Dr. David Hinds, political analyst, Peter Wickham and local commentator, Carlon Knight stated that it may be time for the UPP to elect a younger, more charismatic political leader.
However, Isaac completely disagreed with this assessment, arguing that the Antiguan public should have an intellectual leader focused more on policy ideas than their character.
“What they are basically saying is that we should be getting with programme of personality rather than policy… that’s what I was getting from them… we should find a rock-star to go up against Gaston Browne.
“I want leadership that is going to take my country, my people, my race somewhere better,” she said.
She pointed out that, unlike the political experts, she has been interacting with UPP supporters and members of the public who also expressed shock at some of the statements made.
“As someone who is in the party, integrally involved in the workings of the party, I get a chance to speak to a lot of party members and supporters and, without exception, they were amazed at some of the things
that they were saying about us.
“I continue to be surprised that people who are not here – they are not on the ground, they don’t walk among us, they don’t talk to us—but they can talk with such authority about us,” Isaac stated.
She said she was also stunned to hear political scientists speak about the current political environment as one built upon political personality rather than ideology.
“When they talked about the future of politics—not only in Antigua but in the Caribbean—it really grieved me to think that persons who we look to could concede that politics in the Caribbean right now is not about ideology but is about personality, charisma,” she said.
The UPP Chair also specifically addressed the comment made by Wickham that there was little to no ideological difference between political parties, and thus election contests tend to boil down to who can present themselves as a better candidate.
After reading an excerpt from the OBSERVER newspaper article, Isaac said: “Seriously, Peter Wickham, our people centered philosophy, all the things we have done in 10 short years to advance ordinary citizens… you are going to say the only ideological difference between us is income tax?”
She also stated that party members feel comfortable about the current state of affairs of the UPP, referencing their convention where a new executive was recently elected into office.
“We were surprised to hear that people say we are in disarray, we have problems with our leadership, etc,” Isaac said.