By Gaston Browne
The poor quality of the interventions by opposition members, during the recent debates in the House of Representatives, is cause for grave concern.
Our system is based on representative democracy by which the majority of the electorate in constituencies, elect persons to both represent their concerns and to advance the interests of the nation. Essential to the success of representative democracy is constructive contributions to the important matters that the nation’s parliament must consider.
Neither the National Assembly nor the Senate are political hustings, where regrettably politicians indulge in smear campaigns, pedaling misleading information, and downright lies. Parliament is the forum for responsible and productive contributions to the nation’s affairs. The reckless statements, which pass for political conduct, on the hustings should end when representatives enter the chambers of Parliament.
However, it was evident from the statements and behavior of some of the opposition representatives that they have failed to make the transition from political hustings to parliamentary responsibility. Yet, this transition is necessary if they wish to be seen as capable of being part of a government in the future, and if they are to engage meaningfully and constructively to the nation’s affairs.
Meaningful and constructive engagement does not mean an absence of criticism or disagreement, but it does require thoughtful ideas that are clearly presented and supported by facts and sustainable argument.
That is not the parliamentary diet that the nation was fed by the majority of members of the Opposition during the recent debates. Instead, the presentations lacked intellectual rigor, were pedestrian, and were replete with lies, misinformation, and hogwash.
As if they had not transitioned from the deplorable deceptions of their political meetings to the venerable halls of Parliament, they unpacked the same lamentable litany of vitriolic, personal attacks and deliberate falsehoods that embodied their political campaigning.
Despite the abundance of information and supporting evidence in the estimates and the budget statement, the majority of the opposition representatives were so blinded by their egos, political ambitions, and, maybe, the absence of any real and practical ideas, that they fabricated their own facts and imputed improper motives on ABLP Parliamentarians without a scintilla of supporting evidence.
None of this augurs well for their contributions to the nation’s affairs at a time of global turmoil when all hands are needed on deck, and all shoulders are needed at the wheel to navigate the ship of state safely and securely. Nor does it recommend them for positive roles in a government of the future.
Discord and the promotion of unreasoned conflict might pass for techniques in banal political campaigns, but, in Parliament where a higher standard is expected, such behavior reveals either a lack of basic capacity, or a deliberate attempt to undermine the national welfare by malevolent acts of dishonesty, disinformation, and deception.
I recall that while I served on the opposition benches of the National Assembly, there were members – one of them still a member of the Assembly – who sought vigorously to encourage me to engage in dishonorable behavior to regain power. My retort to those individuals was: I’d rather be an ordinary citizen of a successful country than be prime minister of a failed state. I refused to participate in any acts that would harm the country that I loved dearly and hoped one day to lead.
I have heard many lies in the National Assembly. Those lies are not constructive to debate of the nation’s affairs. They are, in themselves, unworthy of a place in parliamentary debate, but when the lies are blatantly entrenched in the consciousness of parliamentary representatives such that they lie shamelessly and irresponsibly, contemptuous of the national good, then we are developing a serious problem in the society.
The resort to blatant lies by representatives either because they are incapable of any higher intellectual standard, or because they have adopted lies as a technique for national disruption, seriously undermines representative democracy and the rule of law in our country. It is a slippery slope to anarchy that would harm the nation and all its people.
There may be no point in appealing to these opposition politicians to raise the bar of their parliamentary behaviour. But they should be mindful that no society will long tolerate the promotion of discord based on lies, nor will it abide the feckless abandonment of responsibilities by those to whom people entrusted the care for their interest.
Parliament is about attending to the people’s business and not for the pursuit of narrow political ambitions at the expense of the nation’s progress.
What hogwash this? The PM needs to go check his head. He and his ministers never tells the nation their plans for the country after the budget statement was given. What should the opposition MPs oppose too? The leader of the opposition already gave his rebuttal to the budget statement. After the government MPs give their plan for their ministries then the opposition to MPs rebuttal. Unless the debate taught in school is different from the parliament debate. Someone, please educate me on the parliament debate. Another thing, what was the emergency for amending port and marine law or act that the opposition MPs weren’t given the bill seven days ahead before parliament sitting of the bill? Young educated Shugy is going to be the torn in your side in parliament, so wet your hands 🙌 and wait.
The Prime Minister Gaston Browne hands is ready wet by the Lord so he don’t need no advice from you. He’s in that position for a reason whether you like it or not so deal with it he’s not going anywhere any by God willing when it’s time for another term, he would hold a seat again he’s an educated man with knowledge, courage and wisdom so he’s running the country. The way the island of ANTIGUA should be run and Antigua is on to bigger and better things whether you like it on not my advice to you and everyone else that feel the same way that you feel he’s in that seat because the people of Antigo have voted unspoken, so nothing you can do or if you feel you’re better than him why don’t you take that position and see how you can put up or shut up and that is why he’s the Prime Minister. The problem with people you could never do good because you’re never happy. All you are just evil and have the devil in mind
He is doing so good and you and the rest want to see him fall down on his face and God not going to let him because God is his leader deal with it yes, you and the rest haters. But guess what haters keep the Prime Minister motivated let’s do it go Prime Minister, you go
What “National Assembly?” Antigua and Barbuda has a House of Representatives!
This reads like a cut-and-paste job from some old statements by Sir-Sir Ron Sanders instead of the usual Max Hurst old-school pedantry. (By the way, the verb you should have used is “peddle” and not “pedal ….”)
You keep referring to “lies” and “misinformation” presented in Parliament by the Opposition MP’s. Yet you have never cited a single one as an example.
What people want to hear from you is when they will receive water, the balance of their backpay, their overdue salary increases, and their severance (ex-LIAT workers).
What they want to read is what you’re going to do about stabilizing Social Security, making child-maintenance payments timely, shoring up the Board of Guardians, and bringing the cost of living under control.
Stop crying in your beer because Parliament will no longer be a walk-over for the Government Bench, and get busy fixing the Cades Bay Bridge and that unsightly and malodorous stretch of Factory Road.
The Opposition MP’s are doing their work. You need to do yours.
Attention, mother Jones
Why don’t you shut your mouth mind your own business, and if you can do better put up or shut up deal with it he is the Prime Minister of the nation of Antigua and we the citizens of Antiguan that put him in that position and if you don’t like it, then go on back to Africa, like the white folks would say and this is coming from a BORN,PURE and RAISE ANTIGUA and very proud of it, take it or leave it
Them idiots that was very disrespectful and walk out. Show and tell the world that they have no class no dignity and no self pride. They should be a shame of them self to be ANTIGUAN
PM ::::: you are doing a marvelous job keep up the good work new to the ABLP and I am see positive vibes