Saturday, March 14, 2009

Burn that Big Tent!

By Marcus Mottley, Ph.D.

Five years ago, the new UPP administration led by Baldwin Spencer opened their arms to embrace members of the ALP who wanted to cross over. Prior to the election of 2004 UPP had invited them to “Come outta that and come into this!”

Before the UPP won a few ALP supporters trickled over… or appeared to.

After UPP won in 2004 there was a red tide that hustled over to be embraced under the “Big Tent”.

Many of us cautioned that the apparent changes in these people were only mirages… acts of deception that they played magnificently on the good intentioned and naive UPP leadership.

As a result, the UPP decision makers not only allowed these ALP people to come over… they gave them jobs… not just jobs but good jobs… Some were placed in positions where they had to make critical decisions and positions where they were privy to classified and highly valuable information.

While in those key positions, the Big Tent ALP members wielded a lot of power: Two or three top positions in the Ministry of Finance! The highest level positions at the immigration department… and top level positions in all the statutory corporations! High positions… including a few ambassadorial positions… They even crowned a known Middle Eastern red fox as minister and allowed him to sit in Cabinet!

In the meantime, UPP decision makers neglected many of their own! The very people who had wandered in the desert with the UPP for 28 years were now taken for granted and in many cases discarded in preference of the ALP supporters who were now protected under the Big Tent!

Some of the UPP faithful who had worked hard year after year, campaign after campaign were cast aside. Many of them became disenchanted… then began to criticize the party that they had supported and protected! Why? Because they saw UPP Ministers and officials adopting a new attitude… embracing members of the Middle Eastern community who had not fought in the trenches all these years… They saw UPP higher-ups making decisions that went against the grain – like being involved with the rogue financial pirate of the Caribbean and the Middle Eastern who sat in the Cabinet! Placing incompetent people in critical positions such as at the new stadium… (where they messed up – by incompetence or as part of a ploy… it doesn’t matter). The UPP faithful were very upset… and still are.

Now, here we are after the 2009 election where we barely scraped though… barely! All of those red people under the Big Tent… well… guess who they voted for?

They went right back to vote red! Well… they never really left… they found the good intentioned, naive UPP leadership easy to manipulate. And they took advantage of them in order to get high paying jobs and positions of power and influence!

Have you ever attended an ALP meeting or rally? They were all there. No many of them did not wear red… but they were there in the crowds. A few days before the elections one of them… one who holds the top position in a financial agency… commented to another person that “We caught UPP with their pants down!”

Here we are… with UPP winning nine (9) seats… most of them just barely! Those people under the Big Tent did not help! They all acted as plants and spies. Over the last five years they were patiently waiting, gathering and shoveling information to the ALP directorate, building support among the undecided… just biding their time!

Here we are after the 2009 election with the full knowledge that the Big Tent was used against the UPP! A strategy developed by UPP decision makers was most effectively used against them right under our noses. And over the years our leaders refused to listen to the common folk who objected to the existence of a red tent within the UPP front yard.

So, here we are! Today I am calling for that UPP Big Red Tent to be burned down to blue ashes!

We don’t need any red tent. What we need to do is strengthen and empower the UPP core of supporters. We need to focus on those who brought the UPP out of the desert, those who saved them yesterday and those who will form the wall of protection over the next five years.

We need to organize at the grassroots level and develop leaders at all levels of the UPP rather than trying to steal leaders from the ALP. We need to take the best, brightest and most passionate of our supporters, develop them, empower them, coach and mentor them and get them ready to lead.

We need to foster a new generation of UPP leaders to take us into the next three election cycles. We need a vision for the party… not just for the country! And we need people at the helm who can deliver on that vision.

We also need to thank those who have tried to represent us but have lost. We need to examine whether or not those people have the mettle, the intestinal fortitude, the social personality and the leadership aptitude to represent us in their constituencies! If they don’t… we need to replace them with some of the people who we should be preparing… coaching, mentoring and developing!

But now… right now… right here… we must burn that Big Red Tent down…. burn it into blue ashes and dump in the blue ocean!