By anguillian November 21, 2014 10:45



Finally! The AUM has named its leader. This announcement was long overdue and was a thorn in the AUM’s side since it launched its reelection campaign earlier this year. Dr Ellis Lorenzo Webster, newcomer to the political arena, will lead the AUM party into the next general election. If his party wins the elections, and if he is successful in contesting his seat, Dr Webster will be Anguilla’s next Chief Minister. The AUM made a grand spectacle out of the event naming him as party leader. It was a red carpet affair held in Mr Webster’s constituency of Island Harbour. In front of a large crowd, the reigns of leadership were handed over. Words of appreciation and gratitude were extended to outgoing leader Chief Minister Hubert Hughes for his leadership of the party, over several years, and for his service as Chief Minister. However, according to the numerous speakers at the event, the appointment of Dr Webster signals renewed life, vision and direction for the AUM party. By the way, could it be that historian Colville Petty, my good friend, was wrong when he predicted that Mr Hubert Hughes will contest the next general election, or do we have to wait until nomination day to be convinced that he has really stepped aside? That is left to be seen.

That aside, Dr Webster certainly has his work cut out for him. Traditionally, the AUM under Hubert Hughes has never had a successful candidate in the Island Harbour constituency. Additionally, Dr Webster has two formidable opponents both of whom can boast of a closer relationship with the community than he has had over the years. Both of them may therefore also have a better awareness than Dr Webster of the issues facing the community and Anguilla in general. However, it is obvious from the quality of participation of all candidates in the debates, organized by the Literary and Debating Society of the Albena Lake Hodge Comprehensive School, that they are all competent and determined to win. This is going to be a fight to the finish.

The selection of the right leader is a critical decision for any political party. Party leaders are potential Chief Ministers and who they are has a direct impact on the success of the party at the polls. All voters will be concerned about knowing who will ultimately lead the country if a particular party is successful. This will influence their decision when casting their vote.

I must say that all of the party leaders, and therefore potential Chief Ministers, contesting the next election present some interesting prospects. All of them bring to the table a tertiary level of education, and global experience having lived, worked and travelled extensively outside Anguilla. We would therefore expect from them a deeper level of critical thinking and a wider perspective when dealing with critical issues. These attributes are important if Anguilla is to successfully grapple with the increasingly complex challenges facing small island developing states. Let us consider briefly these party leaders individually.

Ellis Webster of the AUM is a medical doctor by profession. He practices both in the USA and Anguilla. We would expect that his experience as a medical practitioner and a business owner can be used to guide improvements in healthcare, and social services in general. However, as a newcomer to the political arena and Government, in particular, there will be a learning curve for him (if he assumes office) in relation to the governance of a country. Additionally, having lived outside of Anguilla for several years, Dr Webster will have to make a special effort to be fully seised of, and in tune with, the issues that matter to Anguillians living in Anguilla.

Mr Victor Banks of the AUF is a businessman. He is a political veteran having successfully contested several elections and having been a Minister of Government on various occasions. With his experience, tenacity and business knowledge, we would expect that, of all the candidates who are potential Chief Ministers, he could most easily navigate that role. However, he has been the target of several allegations – from his political opponents – of questionable integrity in office (all of which, to date, have been without basis or evidence). If he is to be successful, he would have to regain public trust.

Mr Sutcliffe Hodge, the leader of the DOVE party, is also a businessman. He served as General Manager of Cable and Wireless/LIME for several years and is known for his business acumen. He now operates his own business enterprise. In light of his experience, Mr Hodge may possibly be in a position to devise viable solutions to Anguilla’s financial crisis and jump start the economy. However, like Dr Webster, there will also be a learning curve for him in relation to the governance of a country.

There is much more I could possibly say about all of these potential Chief Ministers. However, what I say is not the important thing. The important thing is that all voters must analyse for themselves the strengths and weaknesses of these gentlemen and decide who should lead Anguilla. Perhaps we can begin by visualizing what we want Anguilla to be like in ten or twenty years from now – and that would determine what kind of Chief Minister and/ or district representatives we should elect. A vote is a powerful tool. We must therefore use it only after careful consideration of our vision for Anguilla. The right choice of a Chief Minister is arguably one of the most important factors that will impact the realization of that vision. We must choose wisely whom we will follow.

By anguillian November 21, 2014 10:45


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