Monday, December 22, 2008

A Christmas Truce

Asot Michael is giving out hams, turkeys, toys and gifts. That's fair and a good campaign tactic. He should promote this political giveaway in the newspaper. But, I don't understand why Asot feels that it's necessary to attack the UPP in the advertisement.

This is the Christmas season. Just for a few days, can we put the personal political attacks aside and enjoy this blessed season?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Face of Unity

Yesterday, Lester B. Bird himself attacked this blog's reporting in the Antigua Sun. He made up a crazy, untrue conspiracy theory about this venue, which seeks not to take sides, but, to be a fair and open venue for all Antiguans and Barbudans to discuss the issues facing our island and assess the cold reality of the political situation without bias. As I wrote in my first post, "If you're looking for UPP or ALP propaganda, you've come to the wrong place. We tell it like it is here. With the election looming Antiguans deserve a place to get the facts - not party propaganda. The comments of this blog are open and we encourage debate and discussion. We have a lot to talk about over the next few months. This is your forum. Use it to speak out and have a civil debate over the direction our country chooses to go in the looming election."

We invite Lester Bird, Gaston Browne and ALP supporters as well as supporters of the UPP to post in the comments section of this blog. Participate in the discussion and let's get Antigua talking.

In reference to Mr. Bird's comments, it's perfectly understandable that he send a message of unity to the voters. It's good political strategy to show unity and not air their dirty laundry in public. Had I been advising Mr. Bird, I would've advised him to do exactly what he did. But, I am not in the business of giving advice to Lester Bird, I am in the business of telling it like it is. And, the truth is, as stated by well placed ALP sources who choose to remain anonymous to protect themselves, that there's a lot of tension in the ALP.

Don't just take their or our word for it. Consider the facts. The ALP has been on the defensive for weeks. The Gaston Browne attacks kicked off weeks of bad headlines for the ALP. It included praying for bribes and the Asot Michael revelation. The different factions within the ALP are, of course, pointing the finger at the UPP in public, but, behind the scenes, they're grumbling about each other's mistakes.

It's not just the newswpapers. The poorly organised and promoted ALP march last week that resulted in poor turnout for the ALP was also cause for grumbling from ALP insiders. The ALP has a history of holding very successful events, but, it's clear to all that this one fell flat. Some are asking if the ALP has lost it's touch, but, many believe that it's simply a matter of poor organisation and strategy that's causing the problems.

The ALP has a formidable political machine and it appears they still have some time to get their act together. But, they're going to need to clean the Big Red House and stop the infighting.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

ALP Still on Defensive Over Corruption

Another day, another ALP politician is on the front page of the newspaper defending himself against corruption charges. Unsurprisingly, ZDK is trying desperately to spin this as some sort of twisted conspiracy theory. Where have we heard that before?

From a purely political perspective, this Asot Michael development is more bad news for the ALP and should give them more reason for worry. There's already a public perception out there that the ALP is corrupt and, this new revelation is only going to feed that perception. No amount of political spin and defense on behalf of ZDK is going to change that perception.

The Big Red House is hunkered down and on the defensive. Praying for bribes. Personal attacks. Internal disputes. And, new evidence of corruption. It's been a bad few weeks for the Antigua Labour Party. If they hope to make up their margins from 2004 in the forthcoming election, they've got to turn their ship around.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Does Gaston Want to Take Down Lester?

Gaston Browne has high ambitions. This blog has learned that he is plotting to oust Lester Bird and take over the political leadership of the Antigua Labour Party.

On the listserv, "Taking Sides," Gaston dispatched one of his deputies writing under the pseudonym "Claude Ford" to impugn the credibility of this blog. Earlier this year, "Mr. Ford" called Gaston the "Future Prime Minister" and made similar comments in his most recent post. "Mr. Ford's" can't be trusted. He is in Gaston's back pocket.

What's most telling, however, is that neither Gaston nor his deputy denied our reporting. They didn't deny it because they know it's true. They know that Gaston made a major misstep when he made those personal insults and it both further damaged the ALP's election hopes and it damaged Gaston's personal campaign to be the next leader of the Antigua Labour Party.

Our sources are loyal to Lester B. Bird and they are hoping that Gaston's misstep earlier in the campaign will weaken Gaston prior to his anticipated leadership challenge. We've also learned that tension between the Bird and the Browne camps is part of what's causing the chaotic and disorganised nature of the ALP's campaign. We reported on that disorganisation last week.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Disappointing Turnout at ALP March

The disappointing turnout at yesterday's hastily organised ALP march has more ALP members grumbling over the campaign's lack of organisation. According to our source, the Big Red House is in chaos. People are arguing over strategy and nothing is getting done. Our source said he's speaking out because he is so frustrated and thinks there needs to be change.

He cited that this week's headlines about the party praying for bribes were not helping their public perception and coupled with the pathetic rally turnout, he feels that something must change lest, as he says, the big blue wave will wash all of us away. He refused to name names about who exactly should go, but, he did conclude by saying for the sake of the labour movement in this country, we must reform and redouble our efforts.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

ALP Running a Sloppy Campaign

The ALP grumbles that the Observer is after them with headlines like today's "Minister of Religion Advocates BRIBE-TAKING." There's a bit of truth to that, but, the real truth is that the ALP's campaign has stumbled out of the gates.

If the ALP hopes to regain power, they must stop making mistakes like this. Fair or not, there's already a perception out there that they're corrupt. And, ministers praying for bribery and corruption at ALP rallies only serves to cement that idea in the minds of the people.

If the ALP hopes to regain power, they must stop praying for corruption and making personal attacks and talk to people about the issues and how they are going to improve people's lives.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Honouring Our National Heroes

Take pause today and remember those who have done so much for Antigua & Barbuda.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Election Observers: Something We Can All Agree On

Both the UPP and ALP acknowledge the need for international election observers and I couldn't agree more. It was just about a decade ago that the corruption of the 1999 election took place. That election was widely condemned by international election observers and led to major and necessary reforms. Some say that those reforms were what made the UPP's 2004 victory a possibility.

The integrity of the upcoming election is once again under a cloud. First, it was the UPP Chairman questioning the integrity of the voter roles and now, in today's Observer, the ALP is calling for observers. Antiguans and Barbudans must have confidence in the results of the next election and it's imperative that we get observers on the island immediately so that all of us can be confident in the results.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Election Thievery?

According to local and international election observers, the 1999 elections were a complete sham. They were corrupt to the core. Those elections did not measure the true will of the people. Fortunately, the outcry inside and outside the islands resulted in major reforms that made the 2004 election free and fair.

The question now before is whether the looming 2009 elections will be like 1999 or 2004? Today's Observer hints at a possible answer to that question. The UPP Chairman is expressing "little confidence" in the voter lists and the evidence presented in The Observer certainly looks like some hanky panky was going on. The ALP claims that their political machine is responsible for legitimate voter registrations, but, the ALP machine also has a long history of electoral fraud and corruption. Should we really trust them this time? Or, is it likely that they're up to the same old tricks.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Are We Better Off?

Yesterday, three ALP MPs walked out of the budget presentation alleging "inappropriate" comments by the UPP's Dr. Errol Cort.

Here are the comments Dr. Cort made, as reported by the Observer, "The people of Antigua & Barbuda ... gave the United Progressive Party an overwhelming mandate to reverse the damage inflicted upon this nation by a band of misfits, tricksters and self-proclaimed specialists. This could not be an easy task since the former administration seemed to be quite proficient at procuring schemes that pushed our beloved twin-island nation ever closer to the brink of economic and social disaster. Over the past four and a half years, Antigua & Barbuda has experienced significant economic growth, improvements in the fiscal accounts and considerable progress towards debt sustainability. I look at these successes in greater detail to remind the people of the incredible journey we've taken together and to show our world-be adversaries what it means to govern by the people, for the people."

The important question for voters to ask is not whether or not these comments are insulting, but, whether or not these comments are true. In the end, we are going to elect a party to govern for the next five years or so and we should judge the two parties by their performance. While politeness is nice, in the end, performance is more important.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Vote on Gaston's Fate

Over the last week or so, we ran a poll on whether or not renaming Boggy Peak to Mt. Obama was a good idea. 3 people said yes. Now, we want to know if Gaston Browne should resign for his offensive comments. We have two "Yes" options and one "No" option. Here's the thought behind that distinction. We want to give a "Yes" option for people that, on face, thought the comments were disgusting and despicable and we want to give a "Yes" option for ALP supporters who think that it would be in the best interest of the party for him to resign. Of course, those who think that the apology is enough should vote NO. Please vote and pass it along.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Gaston Insults Again

Even with members of his own party and the clergy ratcheting up the pressure on him, Gaston Browne just won't stop. This time, he insulted not only the Prime Minister, but, also the clergy. He implied that they are going to go to hell for criticising his out-of-line remarks. If the ALP hopes to win back Government, they are going to need to build bridges and present a positive vision for Antigua's future.

Unfortunately for the ALP, Gaston Browne disagrees.

In today's Observer, Browne once again personally insulted the Prime Minister, and, this time, personally insulted the clergy as well, saying, "a debauched, degenerated, perverted, menial, sick, tyrannical false demon under any guise, prime minister or otherwise, together with sycophantic, false, hypocritical so-called clerical supporters of the UPP must realise that they are totally powerless to hurt me. Their time would be better spent in repentence for their own salvation rather than in covenly gaggles that continuously plot to harm me."

You read that right. Gaston Browne said that members of the clergy are going to hell because they rightfully criticised his remarks. And, he once again made personally insulting statements about the Prime Minister.

Antiguans and Barbudans deserve better than this, and senior ALP officials know it. I'm being told by my sources that the calls for Gaston's resignation are growing louder and louder within the ALP.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

'Deplorable, Detestable, Degrading and Demeaning'


"What Mr. Browne said was deplorable, detestable, degrading and demeaning to say the least. It is sending the wrong message to our youth, children and the entire nation, that it is okay to disrespect those in authority."

Clock Ticking on Gaston Browne

You heard it here first. On Monday, we reported that Gaston Browne was feeling heat from within the ALP. Since then, in a clear sign that our source was correct, Gaston publicly apologised for his comments and sought to save his political skin. But, now, the pressure on Gaston Browne refuses to go away.

It's clear that Gaston Browne is a liability to the ALP. The man is being called "deplorable, detestable, degrading and demeaning" from a very prominent pastor. Everyday, Gaston's position within the ALP becomes more and more threatened. If the ALP really has changed, they'll kick him to the curb. But, if this is the same old corrupt ALP, they'll hold onto him. The actions of the ALP over the next few days will say a lot about what kind of party it is.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008



Government can't solve the crime problem alone. We all need to do more to take back the streets and take back the night.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gaston Feeling the Sun's Heat

As we reported yesterday, Gaston's got some big problems in the ALP. Some are calling for him to resign. Now, we're hearing that those some in the ALP are worried that the charges leveled by PM Baldwin Spencer against Gaston Browne have some truth to them.

It's that pressure that caused this to happen. The long knives of the law and politicians in his own party are out for Gaston. It's only a matter of time before they strike.

Monday, November 24, 2008

EXCLUSIVE! ALP Leader: Gaston Must Go

In response to Gaston Browne's angry and untrue rant at the Big Red House Rally, at least one ALP leader is calling for his resignation.

That leader, who chooses to remain nameless for now, said that Gaston's comments were harmful to the children in the audience and unfairly portrayed the ALP as a deeply angry and hateful party.

He said that Gaston Browne needed to be replaced immediately with an ALP candidate in City West that we can all be proud of and who will conduct themselves in a manner that will represent the ALP well.

Numerous other ALP sources expressed their frustration with Gaston and his comments. One said that this was all about Gaston trying to advance himself at the expense of the party. Another expressed disappointment with Gaston and while not calling for him to go, admitted that Gaston does more harm than good to the ALP.

While there is certainly anger and disappointment with Gaston Browne, all of the sources agreed that Gaston isn't likely to go anywhere. They said that Gaston has been loyal and that he has the support of Lester, Asot and Cutie, who tend to have the final say in these matters even if the people disagree.

Friday, November 21, 2008

All Eyes on the ALP

Reports from our spies on the ground at the Big Blue Wave tell us that there were 4,000 - 5,000 people in attendance. That's bad news for the ALP. It shows that the UPP's core voters are activated.

The ALP has always had an enthusiastic core of support, their problem has been reaching out to undecided voters. And, if headlines about allegations of corruption and crime continue to dominate the headlines, there's no way those undecided voters will cast ALP ballots.

Expect a big turnout for the opening of tomorrow's Big Red House. The question is, will the turnout exceed expectations? Only time will tell, but, the grumbling from ALP brass about the party's publicity and organizational machinery are growing louder. Tomorrow, we'll see if the ALP is ready for battle.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Not so Cute

The ALP doesn't need any more headlines like this. The ALP is trying to shake off their corrupt image and having a member of their leadership slapped with two more charges doesn't help their cause and only reinforces their public image is a gang of crooks. If the ALP hopes to win power, they're going to have to convince Antiguans and Barbudans that their thieving days are behind them and that they are a New ALP. But, so long as the charges keep mounting, that case will be impossible to make.

Cutie says that the prosecutions are political, but, that is likely to ring hollow in the ears of voters who grow tired of the long list of charges that have been leveled against ALP members.


How many people will jump aboard the UPP Train and come to the Big Blue Wave tonight? That's the question of the day. Those in the know in the ALP are saying that if 5,000 or more energised UPP supporters show up - it means that their hopes of a depressed UPP electorate are likely just an illusion and they're in trouble. The UPP is saying that they expect a thousand or two supporters to show.

Not to be outdone, the ALP is throwing their own party to open their campaign headquarters, they call "the big red house," this Saturday. The hype around that event seems to be more subdued and some top ALP people are already grumbling that the UPP is already beating them at the promotions game. Will it translate into a disappointing comparison for the ALP? Will the UPP';s Big Blue Wave live up to the hype? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

UPP Set to Call Election?

The Big Blue Wave is coming tomorrow night and today's Observer noted that "all indicators point to an early poll." Does this mean we're like to see an election call - or at least a hint - tomorrow night? It's possible. If the UPP feels that it's ready, an early election call could surprise the ALP who, according to our sources, is still gearing up it's machine.

Regardless of when the poll is called, the UPP is going to have to deal with voter apathy. One disenchanted voter writes, "Your performance, whether it is the ruling administration or the opposition, has been in the least, dismal. I suggest that how I feel today is the way that many of my young peers feel. We are simply not going out to vote. Vote for what? The lesser of two evils?"

I strongly disagree with this sentiment. If you don't vote, you forfeit the right to complain. The ALP and the UPP represent two very different records and very different agendas. And, there are sure to be independent candidates running in a number of constituencies.

You should size up all of the candidates in your constituency. They are not just party labels, they are living, breathing people who want to listen to you and your concerns. If you don't like the direction our country is taking, tell them how you feel. Tell them that you want change. Tell them that you are not satisfied. Closing your door and ignoring them does NOTHING to bring about change. If you want change, you need to fight for it, and part of fighting for it is speaking your mind and letting the people in power know how you feel.

Challenge the candidates to listen to you. Yell at them if you must. Make them EARN your vote. But, don't shut them out. If you shut them out they will shut you out and do nothing to help you or listen to your concerns. If you engage in a discussion with them and study them, only then can you decide who is the best INDIVIDUAL (not party) to represent you.

If you don't participate in the process, you have no right to complain. If you want change, you're going to need to organise your community, speak out to those in power and then hold them accountable for fulfilling the promises they make to you. Tuning out and turning off is a first class ticket to more of the same. Organising, speaking out and fighting is the only way to achieve real change. Just ask Barack Obama. He didn't tune out, he spoke out and he finally changed the United States. We can do the same right here in Antigua and Barbuda. But, inaction won't change nothing.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Keeping Our Elections Fair

The 1999 election was condemned across the world for being corrupt and unfair. So, we reformed the election process and the 2004 election was seen as much more fair and representative of the will of the people. Regardless of who wins, it is critical to our democracy that the poll be free, fair and represent the will of the people. To that end, we need people of integrity to serve as election workers.

The Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) is entering a state of readiness for the country’s general elections.

Indications of the national poll on the horizon, constitutionally due in 2009, came recently as Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer addressed members of his party, urging them to rally behind the party as it launches its campaign.

The commission, in a statement, said it is now seeking the assistance of competent individuals to serve as election workers during the next general elections.

The commission is encouraging competent individuals to apply to serve as returning officers, presiding officers and poll clerks.

We don't need political scoundrels holding these positions. Let's hope that fair minded people who put the integrity of our democracy above their political affiliations take these slots. It's up to us, Antigua & Barbuda. Don't let the hotheads and the scoundrels control the political process. Help us protect our democracy by signing up to work the election.

Monday, November 17, 2008

How Has the ALP Changed?

In 2004, the UPP won election on the same idea that won Barack Obama the White House - change. Now, the ALP is the party on the outs and, in order to win the soon to be announced election, it is there job to convince us that they represent the change we need. The challenge for the ALP is to, as the Antigua Sun put it, "convince the electorate that it has fully parted with all that that accounted for its demise after 28 years in office."

Ask yourself, does Lester Bird represent change? Isn't this the same old ALP that we rejected five years ago? Antigua & Barbuda needs a lively opposition that has a chance to win. Unfortunately, the leaders of the ALP are the same cast of characters we rejected in 2004. The UPP isn't perfect, but, the ALP needs to show the people a different side and bring new leaders into the fold. Otherwise, they don't deserve to be in Government.

Friday, November 14, 2008


This Boggy Peak/Mount Obama thing is getting ridiculous. Who cares what that pile of dirt is called? If we can rename it and people can make money off of it, why not do it? Lester Bird says it's part of our "national patrimony" whatever that means. They say we haven't had a debate on it. I say all the blabbering on the radio is debate enough. Then they say that Baldwin Spencer did it on his own. News flash, Antigua: it hasn't been renamed yet and we're having a debate! I for one, could care less what the dirt pile is called. If people want to take pictures of the dirt pile and give Antiguans money for it, great! That's more money than we would otherwise make from Boggy Peak.

All of this Mount Obama/Boggy Peak hot air is distracting us from the real issues that face Antiguans and Barbudans. We need to be talking about the issues and how they impact our lives. We need to be comparing the performance of the ALP to the UPP and decide which of them is best equipped to lead Antigua and Barbuda for the next five years or so. Let's get back to the issues!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Pile of Dirt Becomes a Gold Mine

Instead of focusing on the political fight between the ALP and the UPP - let's focus on whether ANTIGUANS are better off with having the highest point on our island named Boggy Peak or Mount Obama.

Boggy Peak is not a tourist attraction. No one takes pictures of Boggy Peak. Few people travel to it's summit because of the bad road. It's just a pile of dirt that nobody cares about and doesn't make anybody any money. Who cares if it's called Boggy Peak or John's Peak or whatever. The name Boggy Peak doesn't help any Antiguans make a better life for themselves.

On the contrary, it cost Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer and the Antiguan taxpayers NOTHING to put money in the pockets of Antiguans. The simple act of changing the name of "Boggy Peak" to "Mount Obama" transforms a pile of dirt into a gold mine. A letter to the editor in yesterday's Antigua Sun explains:

Not one dollar has been made off this mighty mound of dirt until the PM called it “Mount Obama” Now I hear there are tours and talks of T-shirts, paper weights and postcards, maybe even a key chain or two, and I hear the change a jingling in peoples pockets, as soon vendors will probably open up shop at the base. It’s only a matter of time till someone opens the shop at the top. What a nice place for a restaurant, how about an “Obama Burger” with a heavy helping of tolerance. Move over Shirley Heights here come “Mount Obama”. What time does the ski lift open?

Tour operators, taxi drivers, souvenir vendors and many more business minded Antiguans can make good money off of a decision that didn't take any time or cost any taxpayer money to make. That's not the only benefit. This decision, which didn't cost taxpayers a cent, generated millions of dollars in free publicity for our island.

This issue isn't about ALP or UPP. The bottom line is that Boggy Peak didn't make anybody any money. Mount Obama already generated millions of dollars worth of publicity and it turns a pile of dirt into a genuine tourist attraction.

Now, who is going to be the first person to sell me my "I climbed Mount Obama" t-shirt?

The Election is Coming

Election fever is here. Today's Antigua Sun has no less than three articles that suggest that an election is just around the corner. Sources close to Da Garat confirm that an election call is imminent. In fact, a very well placed source has told us that the election could happen before Christmas.

The ALP operation is gearing up and they're ready for a fight. We're hearing reports that they're already active in marginal constituencies moving people around, twisting arms, making promises and passing out goodies. According to Gaston Browne, loyalty pledges have already been signed - and, you can bet that if ALP candidates and supporters cross the leader, punishments WILL be doled out. The bottom line is that the same old ALP runs the party with an iron fist and they are going to run an even more ferocious campaign than what they ran in 2004.

The UPP is also mobilising for action. The Big Blue Wave rally is scheduled for Thursday, November 20th at 7:30 pm at Thwaites Corner. It'll be quite interesting to see how energised their supporters are. If there's a good crowd of blue clad UPP faithful riled up and ready for action, the ALP is in trouble. If there's a paltry turnout, look for the ALP to see an opportunity and step up the old tactics of intimidation and giveaways.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Da Garat Speaks

I decided to start this blog because regular people in Antigua and Barbuda need a voice. The purpose of this blog is to give you a place to air your concerns about the direction that our country takes over the next five years. We are at a critical point in our history and the upcoming months will tell us a lot about who we are as a people and what is to come of our country.

If you're looking for UPP or ALP propaganda, you've come to the wrong place. We tell it like it is here. With the election looming (some are saying that it's going to happen as soon as December) Antiguans deserve a place to get the facts - not party propaganda.

The comments of this blog are open and we encourage debate and discussion. We have a lot to talk about over the next few months. This is your forum. Use it to speak out and have a civil debate over the direction our country chooses to go in the looming election.