By Latrishka Thomas
The youth of Antigua and Barbuda, while weighing in on the recent Independence Solidarity March, raised some concerns about the ‘tone’ of the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP).
More specifically, Social Affairs Commentator, Kadeem Joseph, in speaking on OBSERVER media’s BIG ISSUES programme yesterday, attributed the party’s political demise to its failure to address unfulfilled promises.
“I think UPP fell short on delivering on the promises of a government that would change Antigua for the better, and now when they come on the airwaves, it’s almost as if they want to sidestep the fact that this thing happened. I think what they need to do now is be apologetic, and after that, then they can start regaining support,” Joseph stated.
Joseph also said that the party needs to begin by addressing their very own wrongdoing.
“They had a dismal slate that could not inspire old or young people to vote for them, so there needs to be some sort of penance there,” he added.
On the other hand, a common thread between the comments of the youth commentators was that there is a disconnect between the UPP and the youth.
Youth Ambassador, Kamalie Mannix, said that although the concerns presented by the UPP and the Faithful Nationals are important, “they don’t appeal to young people in certain respects.”
He went on to say that “even outside of that you have a situation where the present main opposition party in general, the reality is – and I know I will get a lot of backlash for this statement – majority of their support base is people who are 50 up…”
“Yes, they do have some young people in the party, but the reality is young people count for a very small percentage,” Mannix said.
Sharing in that same light, author Kimolisa Mings, said that the opposition needs to be more dynamic.
“While I was in the march I did see that it was a lot of older people in the march, and I do believe that they have a disconnect with the youth, and I think it’s a situation where they think they know everything and they are not willing to listen, and I hope in this moment, that they are being humbled and I hope they are listening.
“The rhetoric I’m hearing from them as well is: this is how it is; this is how we do it. It’s an evolving world. Get with the programme. Connect with the youth. Understand. Listen,” Mannix exclaimed.
In addition, Political Studies student, Keiron Murdoch, declared his belief that the United Progressive Party’s poor choice of candidates is unattractive to the youth.
Murdoch said: “The slate is critical. You really can’t expect to seize the imagination of the population, you really can’t expect to excite anybody if you are presenting a candidate who does not have the capacity to speak. And I know that people really don’t like to hear this, and I know that it sounds harsh but I think Antiguans and Barbudans really need to acknowledge that they really need to put the best people forward.”
Meanwhile, Public Affairs Commentator, Carlon Knight, raised the question of what makes the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party more attractive to the nation’s young people.
In that regard he said that “young people must not allow themselves to become gimmicks or become tools to be used.”
He continued saying: “if you think the Labour Party is attracting young people by bringing artists and bringing reggae singers and all kinds of fly-by-night gimmicks, then there needs to be more substance. And young people in Antigua and Barbuda need to hold politicians to the fire and ask and demand more substance.”