Submitted by Pachamama
The absence of political maturity in Barbados is unhelpful in circumstances where the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) barely ‘won’ the last general elections. The general acceptance by both the DLP and Barbados Labour Party (BLP) that the winner should take all fails to leave space for more normative interpretations of the perceptions of the electorate as expressed by their votes. Indeed, we currently live at a time when the country that Barbados mimics and looks to for an understanding about ourselves has had a coalition government for a number of years. In fact, the British parliament is comprised of multiple parties that, in name at least, have a wide range of political ideologies and yet there is space in the political culture for bi-partisan government at several levels. Not so in Barbados. For some reason we would rather pretend that there are such fundamental differences between the two major parties that there can never be an overriding national consensus that goes beyond party loyalty. We consider the political tendencies of Bajans are much more sophisticated than this simplistic polarizing construct.
Let us theorize. We have previously argued that the general elections of 2013 presented a unique historical moment for Fruendel Jerome Stuart (FJS) to rise about the collective tribal instincts of his party and seek to form a government of national unity with a BLP headed by OSA. We contended then that OSA was more likely to accept such an offer given the prevailing global environment and our judgment that OSA was better positioned to accept such a proposition than a BLP led by MAM. We judged then that OSA was already PM and had therefore tasted near absolute power and as such could have been better persuaded that the national interests were to be above party in a new dispensation. It was clear to us then as it is now that FJS lacked the political instincts to seize that historical moment to reshape the political culture of Barbados and maybe the rest of the Caribbean. This lack of courage is likely to truncate the current tenure of the DLP, open up the administration to the vagaries of ‘second-termism’, deny Barbados the talents of a wider pool from which to draw and unduly pressurize an administration which could be expected to face tremendous burdens, given the global environment. Burdens no other regime in its history of Barbados has had to face thus far.
Our history tells us that politicians are less likely to be as ‘punctilious’ in a second term as they try to be in the first. This thinking suggest that actors are anxious to ‘settle certain accounts’ in the second term as they fear it maybe they last. So we are used to a higher number of disclosures about behaviors that often appear ‘inconsistent’ with the laws of Barbados, though nobody is ever charged or even investigated. Tom Adams tried something after 1976 but nothing much became of that. The pressures felt by political actors are well known to MAM. In her mind, she may well be thinking, that all that has to happen to topple this DLP administration is to find one or two weak links within the DLP, of course, FJS maybe also thinking the reverse. However, It could be at this ‘weakness’ that a sponsor could direct a certain quantum of resources. These targets might not have to pretend to confront FJS and his DLP, ideologically. He or she (they) could, for example, have a temporary, life threatening illness as attested to by a competent physician aligned to the BLP and another general election would be in the offing. Other options may require a visit to the Governor General to apprise him of an arithmetical formulation that he might not have been aware of. In the case were a few early bi-elections are to be called the DLP is more likely to lose. In circumstances where an early general election is forced, the BLP is likely to have an advantage especially if a vote of no confidence is well ‘calibrated’ as done by OSA previously. All things are possible in politics.
These are the kinds of possible scenarios the failure of FJS has brought to Barbados and his DLP because other bi-partisan options could not have been explored. Politically, FJS could have intervene into the affairs of the BLP before MAM was even elected as its leader; present a win-win situation to OSA; bring a sense of shared bi-partisan responsibility to governance; forever remove party hacks, on both sides, from the national space; open up the Westminster system for radical transformation; put OSA in the unenviable position of saying that he will not serve his country under FJS when the country needed him most; and if the economic difficulties got worse, like we are guided they will, OSA’s BLP would have ceded the power to Stuart to blame him (OSA) for not putting the country first. This Bajan friendly strategy could have delivered to OSA the victory of never having MAM as leader of the BLP – high stakes. We know that OSA was reluctant to leave MAM in charge of the BLP. Only the passage of time can determine the extent to which Stuart’s deliberate misinterpretation of the electoral intentions of Bajans influence events.
For this writer the near tied political contest was a prime opportunity for the country to engage a self-directed radical transformation process. It is our considered view that Barbados has to find ways to break out of the stranglehold of a Westminster system that no longer serves our wider national interests. And yes, we believe that both the BLP and the DLP, in their present state, are unhelpful in achieving greater levels of democracy, a broader sharing of power, a better distribution of resources and so on. We are committed to the peaceful resolution of this national dysfunction using all means necessary. We were saddened that the culture did not throw up a leader who could break us out of perverse tribalism that is projected as politics in Barbados even though informally BLP-DLP divisions are not as clear cut as party loyalist, on both sides, would have us believe.
On the other side of the political coin where a BLP under MAM, assuming she is able to force an election or attract numbers to her side or that she can win such an election when called, nothing fundamental would of happened to change the political culture, the circumstances for most Bajans, the deteriorating global conditions or the underlying political-economy model. A BLP government, not unlike the current regime, will seek comfort in the tribal loyalists and extend the business as usual attitude. Unfortunately, for Bajans we would have missed a golden opportunity to transform politics and benefit from the quantum leap our country needs now more than ever. These are our central reasons for arguing for the intervention of the masses of the people in a non-partisan movement for national transformation.