On reflection there have not been many blogs which were written by BU (David) when the laptop keys were banged in anger – consider this blog the exception. Of all the issues which have challenged Barbados and the government since it assumed office, it is the Alexandra matter (AX) which continues to provoke the ire of the BU household. A lot has been written in the last decade about this matter. The bottomline, Barbadians brag about how wonderfully educated we are, and how socially and politically stable we are, and how the Social Partnership has worked for Barbados and is viewed as a beacon of success for others to admire and emulate. Yet despite our many achievements we find ourselves where we are today; unable to solve a 10-year dispute which came to a head in recent months.
After 4-months of the AX matter having been escalated to the Prime Minister of Barbados Fruendel Stuart, and his early success to get the teachers back to school there was great expectation amongst the population that the matter would be resolved soon after. The Prime Minister by his language coupled with a public demonstration of confidence by the BSTU arising from meetings with Stuart, Barbadians rightly in our view perceived that the matter was being thrashed out, the fact that it is known to be a complex issue notwithstanding.
On Thursday when the Prime Minister held a press conference to announce on the matter, honestly, whatever expectation and admiration existed for Stuart was deflated when the solution approved by the Cabinet of Barbados was aired. BU has recorded in earlier blogs our concern that Stuart has demonstrated a tendency to ignore the political dimension to the many issues he has had to battle albeit during a difficult stewardship. The fact that he is a politician whether he considers himself one should make such an observation moot anyway. Barbadians are stark raving mad at the decision by the government of Barbados to establish a Commission of Inquiry as the means to solve the problem. It is not that constituting it is was not well intentioned however the perception of Barbadians is that the matter requires the urgency of now. Whatever the level of the political stock Stuart and his government enjoyed before the press conference it has significantly fallen since.
Perhaps what this issue will do is to revisit the issue whether Stuart is the best man to lead the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) into the next general election which beacons. Truth be told the Eager 11 matter remains outstanding in the minds of many and is perceived as yet another matter which Stuart has not adequately addressed. Barbados is a small place and the underground buzz on that issue remains. If Stuart is the one who will lead the party into the next election he needs a political strategist onboard tomorrow. He is simply making too many errors which have devastating political implications for the party managing in a difficult time. In the meantime Arthur and the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) hardly needs to address any of the important issues.
On the question of leadership in DLP, if we subtract Stuart, there is not much left to chose from. Sinckler is a neophyte and his role in the Eager 11 matter would make his elevation too polarizing for the party. Also the perception by many that he is/was too close to Leroy Parris is not an asset. Kellman is too grassroots with a maverick approach to be able to garner the support he needs. The fact that he believes he can be leader is irrelevant. Estwick is perceived and many times has supported the belief that he is a loose cannon. Sealy has a passive public image and at this late stage in the game it is hard to imagine he has what it takes to carry the party on his back at a difficult time. Innis has been quietly grooming his image, greasing the media and working the Who is Who Class since the death of Thompson. Incredibly he seems to be the one who stands out from a weak pack. The saying that in the land of the blind a one eye man is king is most apt. Of course the x-factor is who has the coattail to bring home the bacon going into an a general election which will require swimming against a strong current flowing from the other direction.
For many Barbadians, should they chose to exercise their civic duty by voting in the next election, it will require the ability to hold the nose to avoid the permeating stench currently emanating from our political system.