Yawn! Yawn!

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The ruling Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) held its convention here this past weekend, and it passed with a whimper. Unless you were a diehard party faithful, you would not have known that this wondrous event was even happening.  

Of course, there were two reasons for the utterly ordinary and lackluster ABLP convention. For one thing, these ABLP conventions are usually so contrived and rigged that there is very rarely any surprise coming out of the proceedings. Same thing happened on Sunday. Everything is a boring, foregone conclusion. It speaks to a total lack of inspiration on the part of the delegates, never mind, much malaise and apathy. As it has in the past, the leadership of the party, the ‘old guard,’ so to speak, will brook no dissent or opposition. They lay down the law, and the party faithful simply fall in line, dressed-up like Little Red Riding Hoods. Where are the bulls from Pamplona in Spain when we need them.

The other factor that contributed to the ordinariness of the ABLP convention was the fact that, rather than a string of successes, the party and its Administration has racked up an astounding record of failure. This was hardly a triumphant gathering on Sunday. Instead, notwithstanding the obligatory bells and whistles, there was a sense of foreboding and dread.  The stark truth staring the faithful in their faces is that their Labour Administration has failed the people of Antigua and Barbuda in so many ways, and if they are to be honest with themselves, those in high places do not deserve yet another term. Nobody in possession of all his or her faculties could be expected to vote for an Administration that cannot seem to attract a single investor, that cannot get a handle on the water situation that it boastfully promised to fix, that has let down our Social Security recipients, and so on and so forth. Just look at all the sidewalks around St John’s, they are a Stygian mess, a threat to life and limb. Folks, the litany of failure by this Administration is as long as it is varied.

Consider the news that broke a few days aback – that Mr Rob Barrett, he of many money-making investments in Antigua and Barbuda, has decided not to lend this piteously broke Administration, US$10M to pay-off the longsuffering Jolly Beach workers, and rehabilitate their rickety former place of employment. Of course, at the time when the wonderful announcement was made, we were immediately skeptical. For one thing, we questioned why Barrett would lend the government money, then turn around and essentially work for the government as the manager of the hotel? It made no sense. If he had any scintilla of interest in Jolly Beach, he would invest in the blessed thing himself; he would own and run it himself, as he has successfully done with his many other holdings here in our fair State. True to our thinking on the matter, Mr Barrett told the Administration, “Thanks, but no thanks!”

As have many other investors, mind you. Seems, they are simply not sold on the idea of doing business with this forlorn Administration. Something about those in high places turns them off. And we the people of Antigua and Barbuda suffer.

Meanwhile, as was to be expected at its convention, the Party faithful mindlessly bowed to the wishes of the hierarchy, endorsing Rawdon Turner as their candidate for the St Peter constituency, and leaving the incumbent, Asot Michael, with no place to lay his head, so to speak. To our minds, it is a rather unkind cut, much like the sin of ingratitude. Notwithstanding his supposed transgressions, Michael served the ABLP faithfully with his time and treasure over the years, and to unceremoniously discard him like stale urine, seems rather low.  Not that we care much about the internecine strife in Labour. It is a Party rife with badmindedness and backstabbing, never mind the insipid ‘Comrade’ narrative. When those rogues fall out, we know that just men will get their desserts. It is a law of nature. So there was really nothing new coming out of the dull convention. The Party leadership remained unchanged, Turner was exalted, and Michael debased.

And by the way, as is its wont at election time, this ABLP is busy with the feel-good narratives. The latest grand announcements are that James Packer and Robert De Niro will be spending over US$700M on a resort in Barbuda, and that Apple Vacations, a North American holiday resort company, will be taking over Jolly Beach and reopening it in sixty days, with a view towards owning it outright at a later date to be determined. Sigh! Now you see why this Administration cannot be taken seriously. The good Mr Packer has some personal issues that he is dealing with, and we doubt that he will be able to focus on such a huge development in Barbuda. We certainly wish him well. Moreover, there is absolutely no way on this green earth, that the decrepit Jolly Beach can be reopened for business in sixty days.  (See the Jolly Beach story by our Gemma Handy in today’s DAILY OBSERVER). There is simply too much to be done there. But the irrational exuberance continues . . . .

The ABLP convention – Little Red Riding Hoods meet the Grand Ole Duke of a High Place. He marched them up to the top of the hill and marched them down again. They are neither up nor down.

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