Ian 'Magic' Hughes
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 02:30
By Ian Magic Hughes
Antigua St John's - For Molwyn Joseph to say there is no leadership war or disunity within the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) demonstrates just how terrified he is of party leader Lester Bird.
The St Mary’s North MP may be shaking in his boots after he won that Caribarena.com poll for leadership of the ALP, beating Gaston Browne, Bird, and Robin Yearwood.
There is no secret that Joseph wants to be prime minister of Antigua & Barbuda. But its present leader, Lester Bird, is standing in his way, with no telling signs that he will relinquish power, especially to Joseph.
Bird has said he would like to lead the ALP into the 2014 general elections before passing the torch to the next in line, who, incidentally, is Browne.
So it seems that if Joseph wants to be prime minister, he will have to challenge Bird, and perhaps Browne as well.
Antigua & Barbuda is suffering from lack of leadership, and Joseph believes that he has the qualities the past two leaders - Bird and Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer - lack, ie courage.
Joseph, though, appears to be less courageous than Bird and Spencer; or is he treading lightly?
“I expect Lester Bird to lead the Antigua Labour Party into the next general elections as a united party. I just want to use this platform to dispel this notion being pushed by the UPP Government and other detractors within the ALP that the party has issues with leadership or unity,” Joseph said.
It seems that Joseph is treading lightly because he is mortified of Bird, for at least two reasons.
There was a time when Joseph was expected to take over the mantle of leadership of the ALP, before his career came to a screeching halt; a Rolls Royce stopped him in his tracks.
Joseph may not admit it today, but it was the ALP that led the charge to "put him in his place," so that he could not challenge for the leadership.
Hey, "once bitten, twice shy," and Joseph may not want to expose his hand and announce his intentions, as the wolves may come out of the woods again.
But there is no Rolls Royce affair, so Joseph should be free to say he is ready to lead.
Well, while some believe that Bird is a liability for the ALP going into the next elections, Joseph knows that Bird may be the most important person for the ALP going into the elections.
Here is why.
Bird is still the one person who has the ability to unify the party base to rally around the next leader, and Joseph wants to be that person.
Therefore, Joseph, it seems, is playing a game, not with Bird, but with Browne.
Notice Browne has not pronounced that he wants to be leader.
He too does not want to "upset" Bird, who really wants to be prime minister of Antigua & Barbuda again, cementing the term “Comeback Kid”.
But both Browne and Joseph are making a huge mistake by sitting back and waiting for the leadership to be passed on to “Lester’s choice".
The best way forward for these two individuals is to announce their intentions, go head-to-head, and let the chips fall where they may.
This, I think, would be an indication to the ALP supporters and the general population that the ALP has it in them to "run this place again".
Sure, it’s not going to be easy, but to lead Antigua & Barbuda out of its present state is not for the "weak of heart" either.
Antigua & Barbuda needs a leader the people will believe, and statements attributed to Joseph do not help his quest for prime minister.
This is the time to be decisive, not elusive.
Joseph must remember his public perception, real or not, needs to be polished.
The thing is, Joseph's fears are just what may keep the ALP out of government.
The ALP has not demonstrated that it has made any attempt to change its ways since losing power in 2004.