referendum

The Anomaly of Referenda

 An interesting perspective about the implication of the referendum. Extracted from today’s Barbados Editorial.

yes-noWhen, ten or so years ago, after the expression of some degree of initial enthusiasm for the idea by a substantial number of Barbadians, then Prime Minister Owen Arthur seemed suddenly to abandon the notion of a referendum for transforming Barbados into a “republic” as the project was popularly termed, there were, naturally, expressions of regret and shock. In hindsight, some prescience for this abandonment must be credited to Mr Arthur, if we are to judge from the anomalous outcomes of other referenda since.

In St Vincent & the Grenadines in 2009, electors chose by a majority to vote No to such anodyne matters as the selection of a native head of state to replace the Queen of Great Britain, her heirs and assigns and the country’s accession to the appellate jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice in place of the Judicial Committee of Her Majesty’s Privy Council. This was in spite of the fact that the same electorate had only recently re-elected the proponent Gonsalves administration to office, albeit with a slim majority.

As Mr Arthur might have rightly feared, there seems to be in referenda a slavish adherence to Sod’s Law –“if things can go wrong, they will!” Not only does an administration have to cope with a populist antipathy to officialdom, but it also has to contend with a political opposition eager to prove its electoral worth by proposing a contrary stance to that advanced by the government. More significantly, it has to counter the forces of misinformation and purveyors urban legend that would seek to persuade voters that the government’s intentions are anything but honourable and that there is some latent nefarious scheme being hatched to ensure the concentration of power in the hands of the governing administration to the detriment of the populace. As may have been observed, this strategy appears to be limited neither to opposition parties nor to referenda alone.

Thus instead of the referendum being a genuine exercise of informed civic choice, it is transmuted into a combination of a litmus test against the proponent government, a blind adherence to gossip and innuendo and, frequently, in consequence, an uninformed and hence, undemocratic, descent into civic irresponsibility.

Nevertheless, the process manages to maintain the hallmark of democracy and this factor may be used thereafter as a justification for the most outrageous decisions. Hence, the surprising result of a recent plebiscite in The Bahamas where proposed amendments to the Constitution that would be ordinarily taken for granted elsewhere in most regional jurisdictions were nevertheless rejected.

Amazingly, one proposition that there should be no discrimination on the basis of sex was voted against because of an obviously persuasive but ill-founded assertion by a coalition, ironically titled “Save the Bahamas”, that this could have opened the door for same-sex marriages in The Bahamas. In fact, there is express legislative provision in the Bahamas that a legal marriage may be concluded between a man and a woman so determined at birth only. The surprising result in the UK referendum on its EU membership last week forms part of the same analysis.

It might have been precisely such a scenario that Mr Arthur feared. Indeed, it had already begun, with some antagonists claiming that the necessary proposed question –Should the head of State be a native Barbadian? –was an insult to their intelligence. If this were so, one can hypothesize only as to what such persons would have made of their suggested question –Should Barbados become a republic? – and as to the likely response to it in a referendum after the appropriate nightmare scenarios had been painted.

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35 Comments on “The Anomaly of Referenda”

  1. chad99999 July 1, 2016 at 11:39 PM #

    This editorial is one more example of the arrogance and haughty condescension we now have to put up with from the puffed-up elites who lost the Brexit vote and are now enraged at the possibility of de-globalization.
    You people are sore losers. Referendums are an excellent tool of democracy, and if they weren’t so costly, I’d want to see many more of them. The Brits made the right choice. They were tired of obnoxious, penniless immigrants overrunning their country and stealing their jobs. And they were tired of European judges and bureaucrats bossing them around in their own country. Good for them.
    West Indians should wake up. The only clear winners in this globalization phenomenon are China, India, Mexico, parts of eastern Europe, Malaysia, South Korea, and the Philippines. The rest of the world is suffering, including the US and much of western Europe.

    Like

  2. Sargeant July 2, 2016 at 1:23 AM #

    There were “puffed up elites” on both sides judging by one of the leading proponents of the “leave” campaign viz. Boris the over ambitious mayor who had his icarian moment at the pinnacle of his success with “Brutus” Cove applying the coup de grâce.

    If referenda where 50% plus one determines victory or defeat are considered “excellent tools” of democracy, where does proportional representation rate on the democratic scale?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. David July 2, 2016 at 1:34 AM #

    Referenda maybe a goto tool in a democracy to determine a ruling on a contentious issue but it is surely not the ideal way to determine a contentious and complicated issue. Refer to #brexit.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. HappyToLeave July 2, 2016 at 5:01 AM #

    Why does everyone appear so down on Brexit in Barbados? A fair, points based UK immigration system is going to tremendous for Bajan nurses, doctors, and Bajan young people looking for opportunities in the UK – people who were once a mainstay of the UK public services and were cast off in favour of unskilled EU citizens. It’s going to be tremendous for Bajan tourism and trade now that Britain can finally negotiate directly with Caricom on its own terms. Brexit is not about Britain turning its back on the world – it is about the re-establishment of Britain’s trade and other ties with the Commonwealth, Asia, the anglosphere. It’s about reclaiming national sovereignty and democracy and being as proud to be British as Bajans are to be Bajan. It’s about Britain setting its own path in the world again, NOT about a lot of dumb people ticking a box out of ignorance of the consequences.

    Like

  5. pieceuhderockyeahright July 2, 2016 at 6:08 AM #

    @ Happy to Leave

    I often find it amusing to read an article and see the various interpretations that ensue from an incident.

    So for example you state thusly,

    “…Why does everyone appear so down on Brexit in Barbados? A fair, points based UK immigration system is going to tremendous for Bajan nurses, doctors, and Bajan young people looking for opportunities in the UK – people who were once a mainstay of the UK public services and were cast off in favour of unskilled EU citizens…”

    Contrary to this fairy tale opinion that EU immigrants out means Bajan doctors in, the referendum was run on a Britian for the (white) British which to my simple understanding, excludes Bajans.

    You then incredulously continue “… It’s going to be tremendous for Bajan tourism and trade now that Britain can finally negotiate directly with Caricom on its own terms…” how do you arrive there is anyone’s guess.

    Tourism? Negotiate? What do the two have to do with each other? Brexit does not mean that white people visiting white peeple in Causocoid Europe will, post Brexit, come to Barbados! Wow! How simplistic can one get!

    Brexit is not about Britain turning its back on the world – it is about the re-establishment of Britain’s trade and other ties with the Commonwealth Asia and the anglosphere…”

    This indeed the most horrendous of your misconceptions, almost a reconfirmation of “by their words ye shall know them”

    You are British and white and possibly among the expat community living in Barbados.

    And how does the old man know this?

    One defining word “anglosphere” where this Freudian slip reveals a mindset that in examining the definition of that word one sees the purposed exclusion of the rest of the non anglophone world

    Rule Britannia Britannia rules the waves, Briton never ever shall be slaves…I too grew up stupid under the Union Jack but I have learnt to see you all in your suit of all inclusion with similar cultures, Bless Your Dear Souls!

    Like

  6. Well Well & Consequences July 2, 2016 at 6:17 AM #

    HapptoLeave is spouting pie in the sky…the world does not need the UK…the UK needs the world…that is how they were able to build their now dead empire to begin with…everyone now has to be vigilant and see what explotative tactics the UK employs with regard to the Caribbean people, in an effort to build anither empire..,.ya can only put shit in some people’s mouth and tell them it’s chocolate.

    Only black politicians tend to believe that crap, the politicians will have to be watched very carefully by the people…going forward, they already cannot be trusted.

    Like

  7. HappyToLeave July 2, 2016 at 6:19 AM #

    @piece

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglosphere

    Not sure how using the word “Anglosphere” in its correct context can constitute a “Freudian slip.” Also don’t remember writing anything about “the purposed exclusion of the rest of the.. world.”

    The referendum was certainly not about a “white Britain.” http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/653057/Black-Asian-voters-key-winning-Brexit-EU-referendum
    and you have no idea what colour I am or where I live.

    I am inured to the fact here are an awful lot of whinging, bitter Remainers and incredibly ill-informed overseas commentators that are misinterpreting why the majority of people voted for Leave.

    Like

  8. Well Well & Consequences July 2, 2016 at 6:25 AM #

    Not for nothing, but the british expats on the island are a bunch of drunken, racists a**holes, nothing they say is credible, they lied to black people in the 1400s and they are lying now in 2016, they are born liars and savages….not to be entertained at any time.

    Exclaimer…do not tell me how much I hate the british, I don’t hate….continue telling us how the politicians in Barbados are frauds and screw ups, not to be listened to or trusted because they eould sell their people out to anyone, particularly to the british….particularly now…with Brexit, doing so would continue your credibility on BU.

    Like

  9. Well Well & Consequences July 2, 2016 at 6:27 AM #

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/michael-goves-new-vision-for-britain-a-30-year-plan-he-cannot-see-a7114496.html

    Did I mention the british expats on the island are liars.

    Like

  10. pieceuhderockyeahright July 2, 2016 at 6:31 AM #

    Referendum Rather referenda as Brexit confirms, ARE NOT RUN BY THE PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE BUT FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DAY TO GET AN AZIMUTH ON THE PEOPLE’s leaning and like of them.

    It is like an interim political survey to gauge their popularity.

    There must be a careful balance between the topic chosen and how popular it is

    You, the government in power, do not want to have a dud referendum where nobody comes out to vote about if lawyers in Barbados should wear a white man’s wig to high court but, at the same time, if your topic is going to be ” a proposal for the legalization of same sex marriages” in Jamaica say, that will, when the time comes, topple the government that floated the idea as did Brexit.

    An online Survey could, if properly run, have accomplished, the same results of gauging the people’s choice without the same results for the Cameron stint.

    Poorly thought out by Cameron and he no will experience the fallout from his actions

    Like

  11. Well Well & Consequences July 2, 2016 at 6:32 AM #

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-eu-referendum-protest-march-london-saturday-2-july-anti-result-live-a7111581.html

    Did I mention that the world does not need the UK, the UK needs the world….particularly now, particularly post-Brexit, as Obama warned them months ago and the called him a monkey.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/brexit-eu-referendum-michael-dougan-leave-campaign-latest-a7115316.html

    HappytoLeave…go look for other idiots, ya will find very few on this forum, well maybe the pimps ACs and Alvin, ya can engage them those retards are up for anything…lol

    Like

  12. pieceuhderockyeahright July 2, 2016 at 6:51 AM #

    @ Happy to Leave

    I am not a bitter remainer as you have stated.

    I am a person whose focus tends to the primal – war

    “The United Kingdom’s vote to leave the E.U. is a severe blow to the E.U.’s long-standing interest in building a common foreign and defense policy and could pose questions for NATO. Yet the impact of “Brexit” on practical cooperation – both between the U.K. and Europe and the U.K. and the United States – should be more limited, at least in the near term.

    Brexit has no direct effect on NATO, but news of the referendum undoubtedly buoyed spirits in the Kremlin today, where leaders will view it as confirmation that Europe is weak and disunited. This could encourage a more aggressive Russian stance against NATO in the future.”

    The Asian community in England is like the Afro American community in the United States, a minority.

    The Brekit Leave campaign was not won on economic considerations it was won on “Britain for the British” and, with the white majority interpreting that under the pseudo acceptance creed of white Brits, the outcome was obvious.

    I don’t look at these red herring, or if I look I see them as they are, much like Mia’s March where hundreds of people turn out in white, I see past the Covenant of hope to the point of implications as to what this means to counter military encounter in the already frail arena of the EU.

    In short de ole man dun understand de white man mentality but I seeing forward towards the potential implication in the more pertinent arena

    Like

  13. Well Well & Consequences July 2, 2016 at 6:52 AM #

    This is what the british do to each other in the UK…..

    “Now one in public life thinks Brittain is in more need of public reform than Michael Gove and now we know why.

    For thirty years he has worked with Boris Johnson. They’ve written rival newspaper columns together, lied about the NHS together, knifed their friends together, that sort of thing. And yet it was only at midnight on Wednesday, he said, that he “came to realise that Boris was not the person for the task” of being Prime Minister.

    How tough life must be if it takes a full three decades working so closely alongside someone to realise with seconds to spare that they’re not up to the task you’ve been machinating to make sure they get.”

    And if that is how savage they are to each other, remember what thry did to ya ancestors, go grab a slave triangle book, any book on the slave trade and it’s aftermath, if ya forgot or the politicians try to smooth it over.

    …people on the island can attest to the nasty, racist attitudes to the black citizens. Imagine what they are capable of now they are left to clutch at straws.

    Remember what they were quite capable and still are of doing to black people for over 400 years….to build an empire off the blood, sweat and tears of others.

    According to Marie Antoinette. …”let them eat cake”, unless the stupid politicians want to continue being their slaves…by themselves.

    Like

  14. David July 2, 2016 at 7:23 AM #

    It would be useful before posting to comprehend the thrust of the article.

    Here is an extract:

    As Mr Arthur might have rightly feared, there seems to be in referenda a slavish adherence to Sod’s Law –“if things can go wrong, they will!” Not only does an administration have to cope with a populist antipathy to officialdom, but it also has to contend with a political opposition eager to prove its electoral worth by proposing a contrary stance to that advanced by the government. More significantly, it has to counter the forces of misinformation and purveyors urban legend that would seek to persuade voters that the government’s intentions are anything but honourable and that there is some latent nefarious scheme being hatched to ensure the concentration of power in the hands of the governing administration to the detriment of the populace. As may have been observed, this strategy appears to be limited neither to opposition parties nor to referenda alone.

    Like

  15. David July 2, 2016 at 7:25 AM #

    The author has attacked the underlying assumptions of referenda and found them wanting.

    Thus instead of the referendum being a genuine exercise of informed civic choice, it is transmuted into a combination of a litmus test against the proponent government, a blind adherence to gossip and innuendo and, frequently, in consequence, an uninformed and hence, undemocratic, descent into civic irresponsibility.

    Like

  16. David July 2, 2016 at 7:27 AM #

    The author exposes their view by citing an example:

    Nevertheless, the process manages to maintain the hallmark of democracy and this factor may be used thereafter as a justification for the most outrageous decisions. Hence, the surprising result of a recent plebiscite in The Bahamas where proposed amendments to the Constitution that would be ordinarily taken for granted elsewhere in most regional jurisdictions were nevertheless rejected.

    Like

  17. pieceuhderockyeahrightPiece July 2, 2016 at 7:47 AM #

    Which only goes to reinforce the points that referenda, as tools of so called plebiscite inclusion, have to be chosen wisely lest public opinion and opposition interest carve it into your gravestones

    Like

  18. Bush Tea July 2, 2016 at 7:58 AM #

    @ David
    What the author is missing, is that – in the hands of idiots and / or greedy, albino-centric bandits, ANY TOOL becomes a means to social destruction….including normal elections.
    The problem therefore lies not in referenda, but in the animals seeking to utilise that tool to get support for their own selfish desires.

    The problem then comes right back to individual brass-bowlery.
    Same as the discussion with socialism and democracy.

    Like

  19. David July 2, 2016 at 8:00 AM #

    @Bush Tea

    The discussion circles back to the reality we have to accept our system of democracy warts and all or…?

    Like

  20. Well Well & Consequences July 2, 2016 at 8:11 AM #

    Referenda is a good thing..if it’s not based strictly on racism, xenophobia, superiority complex and the main course…greed. it could have gone better for the british, if they had not been lied to by Boris, Gove et al…they may have been able to make better arrangements while leaving.

    I must say, when Gove as education head made the large pronouncements that he thinks the slave trade truths should be rewritten to fit his fantasies and another clown like himself in Texas swore that was the way to go….I knew there was a serious problem brewing…that breed of scum spawned Trump and his ideas 2-3 years ago.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with referenda. ..if organized properly…minus the lies and deceptons by politicians.

    Like

  21. lawson July 2, 2016 at 8:18 AM #

    Well Well of course the expats are liars but in their defense saying I wont come in your mouth is a guy thing not a british thing. Is what happened not exactly what you wanted the smug white elites were given a bloody nose by the regular joe white black yellow or whatever.

    Like

  22. Bush Tea July 2, 2016 at 8:22 AM #

    @ David
    The discussion circles back to the reality we have to accept our system of democracy warts and all
    +++++++++++++++++++++
    Only if we lack the intelligence and commitment to get to the root cause and deal with THAT…. (which brass bowls lack…)

    That approach is called doing the same thing ..and expecting different results. Somewhat like the typical Bajan diabetic measuring his blood sugar levels four times daily – and eating shiite fast food twice in the same day…. and can’t understand why his foot needs to be cut off…

    Like

  23. David July 2, 2016 at 8:25 AM #

    @Bush Tea

    The wart is that referenda is a polarizing tool, yes or no. It does not address the grey of the issue. It also allows the so called elite to manipulate the vulnerable and gullible. But what can replace it?

    Like

  24. Well Well & Consequences July 2, 2016 at 8:33 AM #

    Lawson…you are enjoying this way too much..lol

    But…no one in their right minds will enable or condone the british, tricks, scams, lies or savagery in 2016 and beyond…their shit has ran it’s course.

    Let them find another way to get rich…hint, hint..sell each others ass, just like they love to do to others.

    Like

  25. David July 2, 2016 at 9:13 AM #

    @Bush Tea

    People fed up by surrendering and succumbing to rumour; an educated population – are two entirely different things. If they are fedup tell them to getup off their fat lazy asses and march, to come out and participate in our democracy. Give up a fete or two, tear their eyes away from the mobile device. You get the drift. It is time to do!

    Like

  26. Bush Tea July 2, 2016 at 9:18 AM #

    @ David
    …..But what can replace it?
    ++++++++++++++++++++++
    Have you considered that replacing something that is NOT THE PROBLEM is nonsense?

    Not one shiite is wrong with referenda per se.
    Nothing is wrong with money per se
    Nothing is wrong with politics per se
    Nothing is wrong with power per se
    (although Bushie must confess that some shiite is wrong with both the DLP and BLP ..per se)

    So OBVIOUSLY, what IS WRONG, is something that is common to all these things and it lies at a more FUNDAMENTAL level.

    The PROBLEM is within the MINDS of the people involved…. all of us…(brass bowlery)
    The ROOT is selfishness and greed (albino-centricity) which leads to spitefulness and hatred, and vindictiveness, …and which CONTAMINATES every shiite that we touch….

    This contamination occurs to the extent that we can have allegedly intelligent bloggers extolling the virtues of Niccolò Machiavelli in a serious discussion on how we can address political blight in Barbados….fighting fire with fire…

    When we are prepared to look at methodologies of reforming the MINDS of people (eradicating brass bowlery) …THEN, we can have a serious discussion on social reform.

    Like

  27. David July 2, 2016 at 9:29 AM #

    @Bush Tea

    Perhaps you have simplified the question – what to replace it?

    Replace meaning what adjustments do we have to make how we manage ourselves.

    Like

  28. chad99999 July 2, 2016 at 10:14 AM #

    I notice a lot of uninformed people in Barbados are repeatedly describing Michael Gove and Donald Trump as “racists”. They seem to have bought into the dogma of the liberal plantation.
    Well, if you take a close look at the academic literature in social psychology, a solid two-thirds of North American whites (and a similar percentage in the UK) have attitudes that can be described as “racist”, but many of these people have done a lot to help black people, precisely because they feel superior. They have volunteered for medical and missionary work in Africa, financed the education of impoverished African students in the US, etc., etc.
    Michael Gove has kept a picture of Martin Luther King in his office. He is not the one-dimensional conservative some Barbadians seem to think he is. Donald Trump has more black friends and employees than Hillary Clinton . It’s time you folks stop demonizing white guys.

    Like

  29. lawson July 2, 2016 at 10:19 AM #

    Some people are just meant to be led, some people are comfortable being led

    Like

  30. pieceuhderockyeahrightPiece July 2, 2016 at 11:21 AM #

    @chad 100,000 -1

    I too have a picture in my “office” of David Duke of the Klu Klux Klan so the if de ole man walkin one night late in Murica and see him with other white men, I need to run.

    Putting the picture of Martin Luther King in your office don’t mean didly-it could mean “this is one coon we done did in, and so I don’t forget that thar is more” or it could be “when more of dem thar coons come in my office this should appease them, and hiring blacks under equal opportunity laws of the United States does not mean “love wunna”

    Do not confuse actions with intent lest you end up a casualty of misunderstanding the signs of “enough is enough” like David Cameron

    Like

  31. chad99999 July 2, 2016 at 12:03 PM #

    @Reallysmallpieceuhderock
    As any competent professor of logic will tell you, “proving” that anyone is NOT a racist is impossible. But if you apply the same cynicism to liberals and feminists that you apply to conservative white males, you would end up having to denounce each and every one of them.
    Barbados needs all the friends.it can get. It is foolish and arbitrary to denounce millions of white men and their leaders. Those “liberal” feminists you prefer are no better than the folks you are rejecting.

    Like

  32. Well Well & Consequences July 2, 2016 at 2:01 PM #

    Chadx9. ..Michael Gove has proved himself to be a fraud, so has Trump or they both would not now be scrambling, having a picture of King means nothing…I sm married to a white dude who has 2 perfectly good hands and can bake and cook for himself.

    The whites you are extolling have to reprogram themselves to understand that they cannot be parasites on the earth foreverforever, they need to stop leaching off others with their fantasies and self-riching ambitions….unless like you and other idiots like youself volunteer to be used, which you obviously dont mind from your nonsense, not everyone, who is informed likes to follow or be used….ya hear that Lawson..lol

    Who cares about liberal feminists anyway, just parasites of a different hue, but with maternal and more caring instincts than their males counterparts of conservative swamp rats..

    Like

  33. Well Well & Consequences July 2, 2016 at 2:11 PM #

    And Barbados need to start using their high level of education that they have, according to them, to support themselves, what’s the use of all that high standard of education and government ministers cannot think outside their little box….cannot agree on anything…have to depend on an unsavory businessman to implement breathalyzer testing because they themselves cannot agree on implementing legislation…but now the unsavory businessman implements it, that will cause it to be pushed through parliament, bunch of idiots..the people gotta be careful that those friends Chad wants for the island dont turn out to be their biggest enemies. It’s okay to want friends, but not if you are the one going to be used, abused and end up in poverty.

    Like

  34. Alvin Cummins July 4, 2016 at 6:46 PM #

    Chad,
    We don’t have a West Indies Federation because of a referendum, Ask Jamaica about that and subtract one from ten and let me know the result, and it is not nine.

    Like

  35. TheGazer July 4, 2016 at 7:38 PM #

    @Alvin Cummins
    Decided to google your name today. I see that your claim to being an author of books and plays is factual.

    Politics aside ‘Way to Go’. I will put my hands on some of your material….

    Hopefully, it is better than your politics 🙂

    Like

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