Recently I penned a letter to your portal in which among other things I sought to indicate to the readers of all political persuasions, the failure of the United Progressive Party (UPP) to win the 2014 and 2018 general elections and the party’s obdurate refusal to accept the political reality that they were soundly beaten by the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP); and, that on both occasions they had been rejected by the electorate after two terms in office.
On each occasion, they had convinced themselves and their supporters that they lost both elections “because the ABLP had bought the elections by widespread bribery of the voters, and the vote of the non-national voters, who they derided as ‘dem foreigners’.”
Lo and behold, my attention was drawn to an article on ANR that quoted statements attributed to the UPP Chairman D. Gisele Isaac, who stated ,”that the ABLP has been busy devising ways to buy the upcoming elections”, which she says “will be about big spending and free concerts in order to win votes”. She further speculated “that recent trips by PM Browne are to raise funds to ‘bring out’ the people, especially the youth, some of whom have already been receiving inducements from ABLP operatives.”
Your readers therefore can be excused for concluding that notwithstanding the UPP’s idle boast of winning the elections, it is already sensing defeat, probably as a result of its poor showing on Labour Day and the conspicuous absence of young voters at their march of the Blues. Readers can also conclude that Isaac’s statements are a pre-emptive excuse, when the UPP loses yet again.
I would suggest to Chairman Isaac, Party Leader Harold Lovell and the UPP hierarchy and base supporters, that the voting public has grown weary of its noisy talking points, which are completely devoid of policies, some of which are repeated ad nauseam.
- The UPP is the party of choice (whatever this generalization means)
- The giveaway of vast amounts of the people’s land
- Government gave no “stimulus” (sic) to the people
- The Ministers are personally enriching themselves
- The failure to build 500 homes in 500 days (the government has built over 1,000 homes in 8 years inclusive of 2 years of Covid shutdown)
- No water. No water. The UPP beats this drum, which they are entitled to do, but which is not a new problem and is exacerbated by the most severe drought in 100 years.
In addition, the UPP continues to insult the collective intelligence of the voting public by promising with a straight face to pay millions of dollars to Liat workers and the severed workers at Jolly Beach; neither of which are legitimate debts of the government of Antigua and Barbuda. They have also promised to pay public servants who failed to be vaccinated and preferred to stay away from work. They will also reduce the cost of gas at the pump, thereby subsidizing the increase of gas for the rich, the poor and the in-between, to the tune of millions of dollars, including the trucks and heavy-duty equipment used for commercial purposes and persons owning and driving high-end vehicles such as Mercedes, BMW, Lexus etc. In addition to all of this, the UPP will do all of these things while also reducing import duties and taxes at the Port.
It is my considered view that Isaac, Lovell and the UPP candidates must “crap or get of the potty”. They must be called upon by the voting public to provide the proof to support their accusations made against the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, and must state definitively how they propose to finance their millions in giveaways while cutting taxes.
- If the ABLP Ministers have enriched themselves, it is incumbent upon the UPP to provide proof or shut up.
- If the government has given away the people’s land to foreigners and/or investors, a simple check at the Land Registry would provide proof to support the allegations. Bear in mind that the Yida and Seaforth lands were both privately owned; a fact that seems to escape the UPP.
- The UPP has solemnly promised to pay off the Liat debt, Jolly Beach workers et al; then they must state how it will raise the funds to do so.
- If the UPP seriously intends to subsidize the price of gas at the pump, no matter the price of crude on the world market, then they must explain how it will raise the funds to do so,
- Finally, the UPP appears to have the magic formula for reducing inflation, which even wealthy, first world countries are grappling with, so they need to enlighten the public, and indeed the world, as to how they will move from idle talk to action in this regard.
Making these elaborate and unattainable promises, knowing fully well that they cannot and will not be attainable, is political dishonesty to the highest degree, by doing so they are blatantly lying to its supporters and the voting public, which will neither forgive nor forget this political dishonesty. Indeed, the backlash from its disappointed supporters and followers could well spell the end of the party in its present form.
In addition, the voters must demand that each UPP candidate publish a curriculum vitae (a brief account of their previous career which could assist the voters in deciding whether the candidate should be elected and is fit to be a Parliamentarian and minister of government). The current sanitized versions of the candidates’ qualifications, for instance describing Pearl Quinn as a “banker” and Gloria Potter as a “restaurant manager”, is disingenuous and misleading. VOTERS MUST KNOW WHAT AND WHOM THEY ARE.
In this regard it must be noted that the UPP candidate for St. Mary’s North, Mr. Jonathan Joseph, has posted his CV, which he termed his “Professional experiences”. It reads as follows:
“My professional experiences span education, hospitality and trade unionism. As a community leader I have served in several positions including Treasurer of the Antigua and Barbuda Bus Association.”
This candidate, at least deserves some kudos for posting something. However, can anyone accept that the above qualifies him for Parliamentary and Ministerial responsibilities, notwithstanding his present position in the Senate.
The public must demand that the other candidates, whether radio host, attorney or unemployed, publish an account of their respective stewardships so that one can compare same with the qualifications, experiences and results of the incumbents. In this way the voters can make an intelligent and informed decision at the polls.
In a following letter, I will enumerate some of the outstanding accomplishments of the incumbent government under Prime Minister Browne, notwithstanding 2 years of the Covid pandemic, and the lockdown of the country with serious economic and financial repercussions.