Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Spencer Declares War! Yes!!!!

Finally, the Honourable Prime Minister W. Baldwin Spencer has asserted his leadership and has declared war! I present to you the full text of his historic speech!

Presentation by Prime Minister W. Baldwin Spencer to the United Progressive Party’s General Council Meeting held at Freedom Hall on Newgate Street, St. John’s, Antigua on Sunday, 25 Feb.

Brothers and sisters, I want to specially welcome you here today and to say how much your presence is appreciated. Thanks again for your response to my appeal in my press release of last Friday.

I wish to begin my presentation today with a quote from Shakespeare which seems most appropriate at this time: “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures. "

My purpose now, therefore, is to catch the rising tide and use it in order to float safely over the present sandbar which blocks the entrance to our harbour of peace, love and prosperity.

Brothers and sisters, the arrogant Allen Stanford dreams of owning all of Antigua & Barbuda and all its citizens. Just like slavery days.

Can you imagine in response to my press release, he had the gall to print, in his newspaper yesterday, that I should go “strutting around” my constituency more often to see the deplorable conditions that exist there? Isn’t this the very constituency I have always lived in and represented for some 17 years?

Mr. Stanford, we may be poor, but we have pride. Being poor doesn’t mean that our women are going to take their men up to you for you to beat them. We have passed that stage. We are now an independent nation.

Shakespeare also said, “When words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain." My words today I hope will not fail me, but if they should, I crave your indulgence as this is a most moving and emotional time for me. I come with a humble heart and penitent spirit to admit that with all the excitement and sudden flush of power after successfully contesting the last general elections, your sunshine government, under my leadership, may have departed from our Agenda for Change with regard to dealing with Allan Stanford. In spite of the various rumours you may have heard, however, your government has never consummated any agreement with Allen Stanford or any of his various enterprises on the Dato Tan Guiana Island project.

Allen Stanford has turned out to be a man with whom it is not possible to negotiate because he is only concerned with us giving in to his demands. He refuses to understand that the nation has concerns of its own and that certain things are just not negotiable from our point of view. We have earnestly tried to work with this man, but we have found it impossible to reach any accommodation with him.

As a consequence, I am firmly of the view that all further investment which includes acquisition of any more crown land by him should be denied.

Brothers and sisters, I must take this opportunity to state that Phillip Abbott, the Minister of Helps and all those other concerned citizens who stuck their necks out to be heard on this Allen Stanford issue were absolutely right . This must be recognized, and I apologize to all of them.

I told you on 2 Dec., 2004 that “I trust the wisdom of the Antiguan and Barbudan people in this, as in all other matters.” Today, I still trust your wisdom.

Since the demise of the Progressive Labour Movement in 1976, our former chairman, Tubby Derrick, one of the founding members of this party, has maintained that for political parties to endure, they must have a history and a lasting philosophy.

He was most upset when people in the PLM formed themselves into factions and various other political parties in order to satisfy their individual ambitions and wishes.

It may have given those individuals who were in the vanguard a feeling of achieving power and even ecstasy, but it condemned the opposition movement in this country to 28 years of suffering in the political wilderness under the despotic Antigua Labour Party.

Today, we are fortunate, for, we have a united political party called the United Progressive Party which holds the reigns of government in our country. It has a lasting philosophy known as “People First” which has served us well. And today, it has been responsible for bringing us together once again, to discuss matters with a sense of focus and urgency.

Today, however, we add another building block to the historical structure which Brother Derrick insists is a necessity. This “Building Block” is the way I, as the leader of the ruling political party, am presenting my case to you, its loyal and long-suffering membership and by extension the citizens of Antigua & Barbuda.

This building block will also contain the important decision at which you, as responsible members of the party, will have to arrive at after due deliberation. In essence, it is how we conduct our business today.

I am aware that I cannot always be right in my decisions of governance, and I will always be prepared to listen to my party membership and make adjustments as necessary.

Brothers and sisters – there is strength in unity. “Widi widi”, one of our national emblems, should be a reminder to us of what is possible when we work together in unison. Our forebears ate it during their struggle and survived their Waterloo.

They prospered because of their faith and confidence in each other.

We, today, who are better eduted, better nourished in body if not in soul, have trained our people to attend to our health and welfare needs. Will we not stand up, face the struggle and prosper?

Is there still not strength in unity? Of course there is!

Let us not be afraid of the future.

It is in our hands and it is our responsibility to mould it so that our future generations can be proud of our stewardship.

Therefore it is imperative that we unite. We’ve got a war on our hands. A war to save our nation from those investors who wish to return to colonial days and slavery.

I wish to hereby declare, to you the loyal supporters of this party, any one of my ministers who does not want to stand up and fight Allen Stanford and any other like-minded investor, I will accept your resignation right now.

We are definitely not returning to the colonial days.

Not under a UPP government!

Brothers and sisters, my 2 Dec., 2004 address contained a request for you to trust me to always do the right thing for you, and indeed for all Antiguans and Barbudans. Today, I promise you that I will keep my word.

I must admit, my burden of office seems lighter since making this report. I ask for your assistance in bridging the divide which developed between party and the Sunshine Government which you worked so hard to put in office.

I trust that you will accept that every decision I make as your prime minister, and as your chief servant, is made in good faith.

As I now invite you to make your contributions to the debate, let me remind you that we should do so in a way that is clear and responsible.

Since I’ve been quoting Shakespeare, in closing let me also remind you of these few lines from Henry V:

“In peace nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility;
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger:
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect.”

I thank you for listening.