In addressing the question of whether it is better to be loved or feared, Machiavelli writes, “The answer is that one would like to be both the one and the other; but because it is difficult to combine them, it is far safer to be feared than loved if you cannot be both.” As Machiavelli asserts, commitments made in peace are not always kept in adversity; however, commitments made in fear are kept out of fear. Yet, a prince must ensure that he is not feared to the point of hatred, which is very possible – Niccolò Machiavelli
Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart finds himself in a quandary as a result the widely publicised letter incident. It is a fact some members of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) felt it important enough to seek an audience with the Prime Minister. Whether all of them agreed to sign ‘The Letter’ is irrelevant at this stage in light of Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler’s interview with Editor in Chief of the NATION newspaper Kaymar Jordan.
Since the revelation that some DLP members are concerned with Stuart’s leadership and the length of his coat tails with a general election looming the political chatter has gotten noisier. The current reality for the government is that having to manage in the harsh economic environment would have made being re-elected a difficult undertaking. The imbroglio caused by ‘The Letter’ has easily shifted the advantage to the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) its own perceived leadership issues not withstanding. Why the disaffected group would have entertained thoughts of communicating with the Prime Minister in the form of a letter remains unfathomable at this stage. Some say it is as a result of political ignorance and naiveté. Others believe the plot is a sinister effort to reorder the political structure of the DLP.
The debate will continue why Minister Sinckler made the decision to give the NATION a reveal-all interview. It is obvious from the Prime Minister’s few public remarks about the incident that he would not have approved the interview. Sinckler could not be so naive to believe that his tête-à-tête with NATION newspaper Kaymar Jordan given the weighty nature of his revelations would have killed the controversy for the DLP. He must have known or even been advised that his position within the hierarchy of the DLP would become tenuous at best. His admission in the NATION interview that he would never put forward his name just over one year of doing so since the death of David Thompson is instructive. A politician never says never. Why then has Sinckler signalled that he will never put his name in any hat to vie for the Prime Minister’s job? The answer probably is explained by a comment posted on a related blog. If this is the case Barbadians have witnessed the sudden fall of a young politician of whom much was expected.
‘The Letter’ has created a headache for the Prime Minister. His options are limited. He can’t do nothing. Whatever he does must positively feed public perception that he is in charge of his men. The question is: will it be enough to sway the voter? Bear in mind many voters are currently siting on the fence for one reason or the other. One of those reasons which should concern not only the political parties but Barbadians themselves is a growing cynicism of politicians.
Sinckler indicated in the interview he sees no reason why the Prime Minister should fire him. If Sinckler in his naiveté expects to continue his role, in a business as usual mode in the cabinet of Barbados, then the only conclusion to be drawn is that he is forcing Stuart’s hand to fire him.
Recommendation – send Sinckler to the Ministry of Transport, drop Boyce from the cabinet, Estwick to Finance and divvy up Estwick’s portfolio to Lowe, Kellman and Benn.