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.