Ian 'Magic' Hughes
Friday, 20 April 2012 02:30
By Ian Magic Hughes
Antigua St John's - I thought that Caribarena.com readers were not too into the Antigua Labour Party following that unscientific poll last week where less than 600 people participated.
Well, with just 382 people taking part in a similar poll for the leadership of the United Progressive Party, it’s the government that our readers are not too interested in.
That stated, the result of the UPP poll is in, and it shows that Finance and Economy Minister Harold Lovell is the readers’ favourite, with 122 votes, followed by Minister of Health Wilmoth Daniel - 14 votes behind.
Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer was third with 77 votes, two more than Minister of National Security Errol Cort, who was minister of Finance and the Economy from 2004 to 2009.
His record on the economy is bad, and when Dr Cort lost to Lester Bird in Rural East, his "star qualities" went out the door.
So Lovell, who could not stand his ground against Winston Derrick on Voice of the People last week, seems most likely to take Spencer’s place.
With Spencer embroiled in this controversy over the Chinese Power Plant and his lack of decisiveness, Lovell seems to be the next in line.
It was not surprising then that Lovell won. But Daniel placing second was somewhat astonishing, which may suggest a deeper look into the mindset of Antiguans & Barbudans.
Both the ALP and the UPP need to take serious notice.
Twice since the UPP has been in office, Daniel has moved to have inquiries into the people's monies.
On both occasion, the Observer Media Group and others damned the St Phillips South MP.
Daniel became the whipping post for members of that media house.
That Daniel would finish second to Lovell suggests that the media bashing does not hold as much water as looking out for the people, whether perceived or true.
The biggest question though, is what has happened to Baldwin Spencer, the man who was supposed to save Antigua & Barbuda?
I’m wondering if, like Bird when he lost in 2004, Spencer - with the writing on the wall - is claiming that the people are ungrateful.
Well Spencer did admit that the UPP is losing popularity, and with him as the chief servant, admiration for him is waning.
But why are Spencer and the UPP losing popularity?
Perhaps the people are coming to realise how irresponsible this administration has been with the people's finances.
Winston Williams will not suffer for the public spending affair he has already suffered from being too pompous and arrogant, but Spencer will pay, and is paying for Williams’ poor spending.
Before 2004, the electorate was sold on Spencer and the UPP being completely different from the ALP, but eight years later, it’s difficult to tell the difference.
This Chinese Power Plant issue is not going anywhere, no matter what Spencer, his spin doctors, and those holding information from the public try to do.
As a matter of fact, this is getting worse.
Spencer seems to be "in bed" with the Chinese, especially with that recent gift which would see a secondary school built in his constituency and US$4.7 m for unspecified projects.
That the Chinese seem to be taking over the fishing or lobster industry in Antigua & Barbuda is extremely troubling.
The Chinese ambassador’s sound bite on Observer Radio about those who picketed the Chinese Embassy is not helping this conversation.
The last time I checked, we live in Antigua & Barbuda, not Communist China, so we have a right to peacefully protest.
Spencer should denounce the Chinese ambassador, but we know that day would never come, because the PM seems more obligated to the Chinese than the people who elected him.
Perhaps Spencer could let the good ambassador know that Tiananmen Square is far, far, away and there are no students to shoot for protesting.
While the ambassador’s statement came after the poll, this will continue to hurt Spencer’s chances of lifting his popularity from the depths.
Spencer lost a libel suit against Bird, who is seemingly flying free of fear that Spencer could ever hold him accountable for this much-talked-about IHI matter.
The UPP is losing favour, but there may be some light at the end of the tunnel.
Like the ALP, the UPP would not use the tools needed to reclaim any sensitivity the public may have, because Daniel, it seems, is out of the UPP equation.
By the time the elections come around, these polls may not even have any bearing on the political landscape, but for now they are extremely instructive.