Antigua Labour Party
Published 19th February, 2014
The Antigua Labour Party or ALP was founded in 1951 by Vere Bird and has its roots in the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (ATLU) which was founded in 1939. The party is described as being centre-left but domestically conservative.
The ALP is the most successful party in the history of Antigua and Barbuda. It won the first democratic elections in 1951 and was the only party with representation until 1974 when it lost to the Progressive Labour Movement (PLM), itself a breakaway group from the ALP.
The ALP was only out of office for five years; it won the 1976 general election after a series of corruption scandals and an economic downturn lost the PLM its support base. In that year the ALP took 11 of the 17 seats in the parliament.
The ALP went on to win the next five general elections with Vere Bird at the helm as Premier and then Prime Minister until 1994 and then his son, Lester Bird, took over as Prime Minister until 2004.
In the general election of 2004 the ALP was reduced to four of the 17 seats in the House of Representatives. The election was preceded by internal divisions in the party, resignations, corruption charges and motions of no confidence which resulted in the population displaying its dissatisfaction with the party. Lester Bird lost his seat in that election.
Lester Bird remained ALP leader despite losing his seat in 2004. He won his seat back in 2009 but was defeated by Gaston Browne for the leadership of the ALP in November 2012. The defeat, by a 213 – 180 margin, meant that the ALP did not have a Bird family leader for the first time in 66 years. However, Gaston Browne went on to marry Maria Bird, the niece of the now defeated leader in April 2013.