In my last letter, I had, among things, pointed out that the UPP had failed to attract a group of persons with intellect and political acumen and savvy, as political adversaries, capable of creating a strategic plan and policies which voters could find attractive; and perhaps begin to consider the UPP as a serious and viable political opposition. This would have moved it away from the policies of just cussing and hatred of Gaston Browne and political pandering by its policies of giving away everything including the proverbial “kitchen sink”.
I then decided to take a break and conserve my energy to observe and get ready to comment on the political landscape and campaign when the ABLP commenced its campaign by cranking up what its supporters refer to as “the Big Red Machine”, which I figured would be after the carnival festivities.
I have, however, had to change my mind when my attention was drawn to an advertisement by the UPP, that it was launching a publication of an 80-page report that it touted “would present its record of achievements while in office 2004-2014, and which would highlight the philosophy and extensive record of accomplishments in 2004-2014”.
The idea that the UPP hierarchy or “strategist” could think that this was a great idea is mind boggling and clearly shows its political naivete as a party, and the asinity of its political leaders and its neophyte candidates.
Editor, lest your readers think that my criticism is harsh, let me support my opinion with some relevant political facts. A Party seeking to be elected into office, must, in addition to presenting candidates of quality, also put forward policies and plans that they intend to implement if elected; and these plans must be set out with clarity, must make sense, be realistic, and capable of being implemented. Wild eyed promises and cutting all taxes are not plans and policies that are believable and are an insult to the intelligence of the Antiguan and Barbudan electorate.
That being said, I found myself struggling to understand, the whole point of the “report of major achievements 2004-2014”, until it finally dawned on me. The fact is that the UPP has no plans and policies on which to be elected. Its political strategy is “to demonize the government in general and the Prime Minister in particular. At best fully it hopes that it can be elected because of the shortage of water, which is mainly due to a ten-year-old drought, and which is now being addressed and would have already been solved were it not for the Covid pandemic. It also has failed to comprehend that the vast majority of the electorate are also not “anti-vaxxers”. The UPP, being stung by criticism that it has no policies or plans and a third eleven team, now says to the voters, “we did it before and we can do it again.”
So as an act of desperation, the UPP rolls out what it considers to be the great work done by its predecessors in its ten years in office. I have not yet been able to read “this manifesto in review”, but I think that most voters, other than the party base, have a pretty good idea what it contains, starting with school meals and school uniforms, but nothing about collapsing the economy and engaging the IMF.
My dear Harold, Giselle and company, parties are voted into power based on their plans and economic policies, and these plans and policies are contained in a document called a Manifesto. No one gives a damn or is interested in your party’s selective views of its predecessor’s terms in 2004-2014.
I suspect many of your readers like myself, are bewildered at the UPP’s decision to publish this “rear view mirror manifesto”. In fact, I view this as an act of desperation, which notwithstanding its idle boast that it will form the next government, has realized that the issues which it thought would sweep the party into power, have all but disappeared.
- The Covid pandemic which it thought would bring down the government, has, in fact, proved to be a resounding success story for the ABLP government and has been praised by PAHO and the WHO. Further, a big UPP supporter, who is a leading businessman, actually told me that he praised the Lord that Gaston Browne was Prime Minister during the pandemic as the country would have died under his party’s leadership.
- The hard anti-vaccination campaign of the UPP has been rejected by the vast majority of the populace of which 64% elected to be vaccinated, which led to the control of the corona virus. This together with the State of Emergency and its protocols, helped to contain the spread of the virus. This enabled the government to reopen the country and reboot the economy many months before other Caribbean countries. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and our people were once again able to gather, to play mas, to party and to have fun in their thousands for carnival.
- The issue of roads is long off the table. And water will soon follow. In fact, the government’s programme to solve the water issue was only delayed due to the Covid pandemic.
- All that is left in the opposition’s arsenal are unsupported allegations of corruption carried on Facebook by UPP activists and supporters here and in the diaspora, with support from Observer and Newsco, nightly rants in the Snake Pit by the obnoxious Dane Knight and a series of “powder puff interviews” by Shawn Nicholas, the party’s General Secretary, and which are not capturing the electorate, let alone support.
Added to the above the UPP cannot be oblivious to the constant criticisms and skepticism by a majority of non UPP voters that they have failed to put forward the plans and policies upon which the public should vote; and, if elected does not have a team, capable of governing the country. Indeed, as far as I know, the UPP has not, even at this late stage, been able to name its shadow cabinet, and thus the idea of a “rear view manifesto” was born.
And so, the UPP has hit upon the idea to publish this document. I, personally, cannot fathom how the leaders of the UPP would think that this is a smart idea. Firstly, the UPP in its former configuration campaigned and touted these same achievements in the election of 2014 and WERE REJECTED. Again, they campaigned on these same self-professed achievements in 2018 and they WERE REJECTED AGAIN AND HUMILIATED at the polls.
How in God’s name can anyone with a modicum of political savvy think that this makes political sense? Further does the UPP not understand the fact that a stronger UPP with a much better team was soundly defeated in 2014 and 2018. How then will this 3rd 11 team fare?
Dear Harold et al: Voters cast their vote based on sensible and workable plans and policies, not for pie in the sky plans, policies and perceived past achievements.
WHEEL AND COME AGAIN !!!!!!!!!!