Makings of a political leader

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

In search of its next political leader, the United Progressive Party cannot afford to spend the next 5 years regretting its choice or blindly following charismatic persons with no substance. The political party is now in the strongest position it has ever been in a decade, revived from the electoral ashes of 2014, when they lost the seat of government.

While most of the UPP supporters would praise the former leader, Harold Lovell—and perhaps rightly so—for guiding them back to their position with only two seats shy of true political power, Lovell himself has not been embraced by the public as he has been with party supporters. The reason given would be one that can only be explored later.

But the reality—and one that must be accepted—is that the next UPP leader needs to be able to show that they can lead the new generation for the next 5 years, win the next general elections, and set forth a political philosophy distinct to their own standing. To do this, the leader must show they are a uniter, have a progressive vision for the party, and has the party’s best interests at heart.

The hardest thing in politics is to build and keep a coalition of interests and egos and the next UPP political leader will have to do just that. Politics is not an easy game and making deals and knowing how to interact with fellow people, both within and outside the party, is key.

The opposition has been, is, and will be going against a political party that has dominated the political system prior to independence and their leader, which for all his supposed flaws as expressed by the opposition, still (at least publicly) maintain the support of his party. When going against a political juggernaut, any exposed chink in the political armor of the party will be exploited and broken.

The future UPP political leader cannot allow for their colleagues to distrust or dislike them. Any grievances caused by any candidate wishing to go to this role must learn from their former leader, Harold Lovell, and learn to be a uniter and a charismatic person whom people want to be around, NOT have to be around.

The next leader also must have a vision for the party and be able to impose that vision.

Four out of the six seats won by the UPP were first-time political aspirants or first-time winners and need a leader who can show them the way. But this is not merely teaching them about the inner workings of Parliament, because as long as one can read, learning the standing orders of Parliament isn’t rocket science—our Parliament population isn’t large enough to warrant a lengthy bedding-in process.

Do our politicians fully exercise the powers given to them in Parliament?

Nevertheless, the leader should be able to build on the belief that the electorate put into those new parliamentarians and mould them into leaders that can eventually manage ministries and shape government policy.

That requires hard work and training because the government is not just what is put on a manifesto, and in our fragile economy, tough political decisions would need to be taken at a moment’s notice.

Third, the next leader also must show they can honestly win the next election or at least place in the minds of the electorate that they are Prime Ministerial material.

Now, we can argue over whether our current Prime Minister prior to his tenure (or even during his tenure as some UPP supporters might profess) has shown that, but it still is a fair argument that the new generation of voters—more globally connected—are demanding a person who embodies that type of character.

The next leader must be an articulate person with a grasp of the issues facing the society, can separate the need for partisanship, putting the interests of the country first in critical moments, and has a clear policy interest that people can see what a future “insert person name here” would bring.

 And while every person has character flaws, being able to mask those flaws behind a solid foundation is the goal.

According to some sources, the potential slate of runners for the job are the interim political leader, Jamale Pringle, Pearl Quinn-Williams, Sean Bird, Richard Lewis and perhaps two others.

But as we get closer to the party convention date, candidates will need to make the best use of the limited time to meet with their supporters because leading is more than charisma with one group because the party cannot afford to be in the political wilderness any longer.


Barack Samuel

1 Comment

  1. Love Antigua.

    Well said Barrack.I would also like to ninate a female to be leader at the next convention.Time for a female PrimeMinister..


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