After watching the UPP Virtual Forum last night, I feel compelled to write this letter.
Yes, there was substance from the candidates, but to what end? All were as animated as a flea. They stood there and they all read their scripts. In the short time he had, one tried to read an education policy for the nation. One was way short on the ability to think and speak in English. One had a problem speaking English, and one delivered his plans in a dead manner. The best part was the wrap up by the moderators after each speaker. The climax with the political leader was standard and did not add any bright light to the whole presentation.
In short, one could in fact use the word, boring. Makes one wonder if UPP forgot that it is a political party.
The question is asked, why is the UPP stubbornly going back down this road? Will forums, etc, make much difference to the outcome of the elections? Hell, no. Not in Antigua.
It is like the story of Solomon and the lilies. Not even his adornment could look better than the lilies that just stay there, looking splendid without bursting a sweat. This is the ALP, the lilies. They do not have any constituency branches (though they pretend they do). UPP has a branch in each constituency. They do not do any conventions and forums, etc. Check UPP. And they say they do polls. So they say. UPP full of them.
Yet they still win, big time.
The question is then asked, doesn’t the UPP understand Antigua politics?
They create all these policies and polls and forums and, God knows, what else, and the idea of doing the POLITICS is second or third most in their minds. Do they think by sounding bright and smart and knowing all the latest international details give them the edge over an alley cat, street smart party like ALP? Is the UPP spending so much time on all these things that they are forgetting to do the politics, or is it that they don’t really know how to do the politics, and there is where they need the help to get ready for the elections?
Is the Labour party winning because they do the politics better and don’t worry about the niceties like policies because the public is not interested in them? Is the UPP pursuing all these written-down and verbalized policies either because they are pumped full of pride and cockiness in their brilliance and ability to do them, or they can’t do the politics that the common man understands? Or is it that they just don’t understand how to compete in the hedonistic, political environment created by the ALP?
The UPP is wasting their time courting a diaspora consisting of persons who will not come back to vote in any relevant numbers, nor will they fund the UPP campaign in any significant manner. These persons in the diaspora are just happy being relevant and soaking up the importance that the UPP has accorded them. In the last three losing elections (count in 2009), the UPP spent a lot of money on experts and pundits and consultants who delivered them a string of defeats, each worse than the last.
So the question is, to what end is all this display of forums, etc? Where is it resonating? The UPP has its own radio station and access to Observer and ZDK. This is power. But how is it used? The UPP base deludes itself everyday on their radio station, that is hardly listened to, with grand pronouncements about the Labour Party and their dirty, cheating ways. Everyday they dive into the ALP. For the most part, the ALP ignores them. And not only does the ALP ignore them, but they go on the offensive when attacked. What is the purpose of having all the radio pundits who call the station about 5 times per hour and just talk and talk because they can? Where are the political programmes on the UPP’s radio station dedicated to mounting a political opposition to the ALP? With 3 radio stations available to them, how come the political response is so weak?
Gaston Browne burnt out the UPP early this year and made the party peak too soon and spend a lot of money in the belief that he was going to call an early election. Now the fight is on to find donors and contributors at a time when money is tight. The party is not encouraging donors to give them money. Their output is too docile.
Will the UPP make the same mistakes again by spending scare resources on high-priced consultants, hire as advisors persons who either have divided loyalties or do not understand the ways of poor people politics? Or will the party forget all this time-wasting, money-wasting, not-relevant-to-our-situation-here-in-Antigua foolishness, and instead focus on talking to the people and saying the things that would lead to any chance they have for victory at the polls?
One would think that with Gaston Browne failing as badly, UPP would seize the opportunity to go on the offensive, but it looks like the ALP is doing what it does best, attacking whether they are in or out of government.
The UPP has eleven new candidates on the slate. That is a severe turnover from the last election. More time should be spent with them on the campaign trail, learning the ropes and ramping up the politics; not sitting down in policy meetings, forums and on radio shows. It seems some of them believe by speaking on the radio, that should make them good at politics.
It is time for the leader to rein his team in and start demanding more hard work out of them, starting with himself. For instance, he can start by doing something useful with that programme he has on Thursday and have it well produced and publicized. He also needs to start speaking politics and stop sounding like a technical officer. He should stop trying to preach to the public on right and wrong issues and turn the information he has and is so good at into political mileage. He seems to forget at times that he is a politician who needs to score political points. His output is too tame and will always come in second to Gaston Browne’s fiery rhetoric which is so often devoid of truth but so full of politics.
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