Dr. George Brathwaite

The George Brathwaite Column – Talking for votes: Conspiracy?

Attorney General, Adriel Brathwaite quoted “if you, for example, can release on bail someone who names himself Lord Evil, I see no reason why you cannot release Constable Gittens on bail.”

Attorney General, Adriel Brathwaite quoted: “if you, for example, can release on bail someone who names himself Lord Evil, I see no reason why you cannot release Constable Gittens on bail.”

I begin with the assumption that all members of the political class in Barbados initially mean well. They possess an eagerness to contribute definitively to national development without reducing politics to be a ‘talk-shop’. Of course, circumstances may change sufficiently that these same political figures will, from time to time, shift their priorities.

Nowadays, a seemingly growing number of Barbadians have apparently become drawn into thinking that the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) has assumed a mode of taking care of itself. Rightly or wrongly, people are saying that DLP politicians have lapsed into self-indulgence and pursuit of self-interests at the expense of the nation. More and more, sceptical persons admonish these representatives of the people when they say and do things supposedly to educate (i.e. influence and manipulate), but ultimately do more to confuse.

Robert Shapiro suggests that this political ‘education’ intrinsically requires distinguishing what people actually want from what they ought to want with regard to both means and ends. Stephen Lukes in his seminal work – ‘Power: A Radical View’ – contends that “manipulation may be distinguished by the intent to deceive or create conditions of choice leading others to make a choice not in their interests.” Negative consequences will often be hidden by the politician’s use of innuendo or semantics. It is to those things that people begin to point fingers, with the political cynic then shouting ‘conspiracy’.

Today, this cry of conspiracy is being heard all across Barbados with increased regularity. Conspiracy theory is described as explaining an event to be the result of a plot by a government, covert group or organisation. Additionally, conspiracy theory is said to be a belief that a particular unexplained event was caused by the scheme of that group. Advancing a conspiracy theory means advancing the perception that a group of people is secretly trying to harm someone or achieve something.

A reasonable question that follows is whether secrecy, stealth, and sweet sounding statements are savoury for us suffering on the political side-lines? Without sufficient information and full disclosure by the DLP government to the general public, many persons in the society are left to speculate. Barbadians are drawing their conclusions on the barest of detail – and many times, the more accurate information is leaked into the public domain. Barbadians, in large numbers, are convinced that a new conspiracy is unravelling.

The fact that politicians may reasonably fascinate potential voters in an attempt to attract widespread acceptance is commonplace. Yet, there are some Barbadians mulling the DLP’s knack for silence and clandestine behaviour. Many persons are left with the perception that conspiracy is prime in this governance mix, particularly in which access to information is impaired and accountability and transparency are ignored.

Daniel Schorr once said that: “I have no doubt that the nation has suffered more from undue secrecy than from undue disclosure. The government takes good care of itself.” A contention in this article is that the Freundel Stuart administration and governing authorities convey the impression that ‘stealth and secrecy are our only hope’. Perhaps, it is timely for politicians to trust the people. Trust is still a virtuous and effective condition for winning in politics.

Recently in Barbados, things have been said and done, and allowed to be done by officials which have stirred great intrigue. Given the expectation that Barbados is on the cusp of campaigning for the next general election, it makes sense for us to consider the meanings of specific words and actions coming from this administration.

For instance, Minister of Education Ronald Jones is reported to have said that he agrees with the “decriminalising of ganja,” and he made specific mention of small amounts. This writer’s understanding on decriminalisation, views it as typically meaning: no arrest, prison time, or criminal record, particularly for the first-time possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal consumption. Jones opined that he did not see the need to “flood our prisons, really, for someone who is not selling … but has a small spliff.” Those that have felt the strong arm of the law and the sentencing of the courts will tend to immediately agree with Ronald Jones.

Indeed, this often controversial Minister, with parted lips and raging tongue has further asserted that: “We … have sent the signal that we would rather not incarcerate individuals for having small quantities of marijuana.” The liberal-minded would again approve, although more conventional thought may focus on the risk to the society. It must be noted that in the DLP’s 2013 Manifesto there was absolutely no mention of a policy intent to decriminalise small amounts of ‘ganja’ as a means of keeping youthful members of the Barbadian society out of jail.

Government Senator Verla De Peiza, speaking a couple years ago, had suggested that the nation considers allowing small amounts for leisure, medicinal, or religious use without users falling to abuse. This writer does not condone jailing the youth for a ‘spliff’ or ‘roach’, in an environment wherein, many opportunities for progress already have been sapped from them by miscalculating DLP.

More instructively, the Senator insisted that politicians must “recognise we’re representing people” and we have to be able “to focus on what the people want, instead of telling what they ought to have.” It is hardly a secret that there are exploiters high on the supply side who are getting away scotch-free. Allegedly, these miscreants – financiers and traffickers – are being overlooked by the authorities.

Another issue that raises eyebrows at this time, surrounds the Tourism Minister, Richard Sealy. The minister has been upbeat, as he should, on the new Sandals Barbados Resort and Spa Expansion Project, and with the $450 million transformation of Sam Lord’s Castle property into a Wyndam Grand Resort Hotel property. These are two very useful projects that, once completed, should add to the room-stock of our tourism product and employ hundreds, if not thousands of Barbadians.

Nonetheless, one well remembers the several pronouncements that came from the current government but which were either still-born or have been otherwise pushed to the back-burner. Four Seasons, the Pierhead Marina, Pickerings, the state-of-the-art sugar factory, a new hospital, and others comprise these failures. The projects are captured in official statements, the turning of the soil, and the missing dimensions of actual financing, plans for work continuation, and completion. The St. John Polyclinic that was promised for decades, is classic in that regard. Its completion and operation dates were scheduled in 2012 (months before the last general election), but the functionality came long after 2013.

Surely, the DLP’s optic strategy to throw something (anything sounding hopefully good) to the public should not be misconstrued as valid information or education, but be interpreted as vote-catching, particularly when there are few detailed plans towards project-completion.

Just over a month ago, Barbadians were sprung to attention when Prime Minister Stuart, on the matter of granting bail to murder accused in Barbados, confessed “that one hit me for six.” Stuart’s unconvincing disbelief was contextualised with words to the effect that he has “to be very careful,” since being the Prime Minister he did not want it said that he was “trying to interfere with the administration of justice or the independence of the judiciary.” This wise calculation came from a nominal leader, often accused of being out of touch with the people.

But lo and behold! The Attorney General of Barbados, the country’s principal legal officer, Adriel Brathwaite backed a call by the Barbados Police Association (BPA) for the provision of bail to be extended for Constable Everton Gittens, who is charged with murder. Brathwaite felt compelled to say that “if you, for example, can release on bail someone who names himself Lord Evil, I see no reason why you cannot release Constable Gittens on bail.”

The AG’s stroke, trespassing on the judiciary’s green, claimed he was not making a call for Gittens’ bail “because it sounds good.” One wonders why then did the AG risk the ire of several listening parties? Two days later, Constable Gittens was offered bail in the amount of $200,000, following an appearance before the fair-minded Justice Randall Worrell. Local conspiracy theorists have since had a field day.

Instructively, Pierre Trudeau once said, “the essential ingredient of politics is timing.” Furthermore, William Wordsworth poetically informed readers that: “The human mind is capable of excitement without the application of gross and violent stimulants; and he must have a very faint perception of its beauty and dignity who does not know this.” Now clearly, the Attorney General, the Prime Minister, and the political class in Barbados must recognise that in politics, timing and perception can be two useful friends or two abject enemies.

So what are we witnessing in Barbados? Is the DLP purposefully talking for votes and minimal fallout, or is the population being given the right away to continue formulating their understandings of conspiracy in an apathetic environment of mistrust?

(Dr. George C. Brathwaite is a researcher and political consultant, and up until recently, he was editor of Caribbean Times (Antigua). Email: brathwaitegc@gmail.com )

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24 Comments on “The George Brathwaite Column – Talking for votes: Conspiracy?”

  1. Pachamama July 12, 2016 at 9:24 AM #

    Dr. Brathwaite, at which juncture are things likely to change?

    You have underestimated what the decriminalization of marijuana means. It involves, centrally, treating addiction or long-term use, as an illness, needing medical as apposed to judicial intervention. Opening up for medical application.

    Maybe the Minister has as well.

    Yes, and we tend to agree, the characters you mentioned, the AG, tourism minister, have never distinguished themselves as sentient beings. But your past, present and future BLP regimes will have similar actors as well. Maybe worse!

    This is the juncture where we have failed to dare you to venture beyond. The imagine a world were there is no BLP, no DLP. LOL

    The problem we have with your conspiracy theorizing is that it does not account for when the ‘conspiracists’ were proven right. Yet this CIA concoction to dissuade people from seeking alternative explanations for the killing of JFK continues as an impure area of human existence, thinking, to be subjected to the academician’s ire.

    Indeed, academia pretends that people who have informal ways of seeing the world, in the sometimes absence of empirical methods are to have no standing. Yet it relies on oral tradition. Yet it relies on the metaphysics, the esthetic. Contradictions?

    Are you not too wedded to the reductionist viewpoint?

    Are the people to wait for 40 years when some academician does a PhD thesis to understand their current reality?

    Are we to use the past alone to under the present?

    In summary, you are likely to only be able to think about the counter-narratives when the BLP returns to power.

    Like

  2. George C. Brathwaite July 12, 2016 at 10:34 AM #

    @ Pachamama
    Quite honestly, you thrill me, but I am glad that you are reading and thinking.

    Like

  3. Pachamama July 12, 2016 at 10:47 AM #

    Dr, Brathwaite

    Stop making snide remarks and help us to see the future.

    To re-imagine

    Is that not what you education was for?

    Like

  4. Bernard Codrington. July 12, 2016 at 11:02 AM #

    Can we have some meaningful discussions on bread and butter issues that reflect the concerns of the ordinary Barbadian? I would leave this conspiracy idea in the text books or CIA wheresoever it originated.The fundamental questions in Barbadian minds are: Where do we go from here.? How best to navigate through a changing world which is a work in progress? How to rearrange our priorities so that all our countrymen can live in a fair and just society( Jeff please note that is for emphasis). As an economist the decriminalizing of small marijuana spliffs is a matter of the costs outweighing the benefits to society and the tax payers. So on the basis of utility the Minister of Education is on the right road. It is the prohibition that is driving the crime and taking up space in HM prison that should be filled by the real criminals.

    Like

  5. David July 12, 2016 at 11:10 AM #

    @Bernard

    In other words where is the vision!

    Like

  6. Bernard Codrington. July 12, 2016 at 11:10 AM #

    Concentration on the small fish appears to me to be diversionary and conspiratorial.

    Like

  7. Bernard Codrington. July 12, 2016 at 11:32 AM #

    @ David
    My vision for Barbados is for a country where the GOB concentrates on providing goods and services for its citizens that the private sector cannot produce at low costs. The private sector should concentrate on producing goods and services for profit without expectation of concessions from the public purse. If the GOB has to transfer public lands and finance to the private sector to make a project profitable then we are transferring wealth from the poor to the rich.In other words we are creating an unjust society.This will lead to social unrest sooner rather than later. There is a place for a mixed economy in Barbados. That is the model that gave us political and economic stability in the pass. With a little tweaking it can take us there into the next 20 years.
    Political parties are non issues. It is just a changing of the guards. Guards need adequate rest to be effective. It is the philosophy and morality that is important.

    Like

  8. David July 12, 2016 at 11:35 AM #

    @Bernard

    If we read you correctly you propose a vision to support economic stability to be used as a anchor to engage in social engineering?

    Like

  9. Well Well & Consequences July 12, 2016 at 11:59 AM #

    Yeah…the political class mean to fill their bank accounts well, while ignoring the voters who put them there, they pander to their new fiund friends, for 5 years, until next elections when they need the voters again..

    Like

  10. David July 12, 2016 at 12:09 PM #

    @George

    You and Walter have hitched your wagons to the two established political parties. What the independents in the crowd want to know is how do you, and Walter, plan to disrupt the establishment/status quo. Many good men and women have entered politics with all good intentions and became sucked into the monolithic party systems that have become ensconced in our way of life.

    Like

  11. Well Well & Consequences July 12, 2016 at 12:09 PM #

    Bajan politicians are liars and frauds, no different to the liars and frauds across the globe, at this juncture they are all pandering for votes, so they will now talk rubbish and after elections, ya will hear nothing more about any of those issue.

    Case in point…the lying minister of tourism Sealy, telling bajans there will be no problems for Barbados from Brexit, but low and behold, I understand the minister of finance told bajans this morning on the radio that brits who were planning to buy homes in Barbados…have canceled. ….so much for Sealy’s lie, now imagine the brits who live from paycheck to paycheck and can get a 99 pound flight to Spain on Ryanair.

    Politicians are liars and only stupid people tend to believe them.

    Like

  12. Pachamama July 12, 2016 at 12:20 PM #

    David

    You have asked the central question. And it should be taken seriously. You desire an answer!

    In spite of known difference we (Pachamama) are willing to approach that discourse with an open mind, putting aside current positions if better could be put on offer.

    We’ve seen generations of politicians come forward pretending to want to represent

    But stasis has prevailed, in spite of their interventions.

    Others may say political tricks!

    Let that engagement commence.

    We promise extreme patience, no abuse and a willingness to learn.

    Like

  13. George C. Brathwaite July 12, 2016 at 2:08 PM #

    @ David.

    Note that I suggested that all are well-meaning (at least initially), and some do become wayward or co-opted even against fluctuating priorities.
    To the question of independents or those who care for no party, I still maintain it is about people-centredness. To me, this has to be the driving force going forward. I do not believe that political parties are supposed to be monolithic in thought and ideas. Yes, the common thread should be on philosophy and principles. Hence my endorsement of ‘Our Covenant of Hope’. Independent thinkers and other entities regardless of political persuasion ought to be encouraged. I have no problem with alternative ideas and solutions to our problems. I also accept the fact, that realistically, numbers can be influential and this is precisely what gives the political parties impetus. The people need voice, and we ought to have more persons participating in and deliberating the issues of national importance. Hence, I encourage those who do not share my views or ways of examining and finding solutions for the problems we face. The more the merrier, but at the end of the day, I hope there can be consensus built around the people and their interests, and what happens to be best for Barbados.

    Like

  14. David July 12, 2016 at 2:19 PM #

    @George

    Reference to independents was about independent in thought and not cloaked to a party line. This is the important point if we assess the performance of the party system in Barbados and across the Caribbean post the bounce immediately after Independence. It is also worth noting both you and Walter although having achieved high academic achievement see difference in BLP and DLP when there is not discernible philosophy.

    Like

  15. pieceuhderockyeahright July 12, 2016 at 3:53 PM #

    @ the Honourable Blogmaster

    Mine is a strategy that is based on one simple thing “no quarter asked none given”

    We the citizens cannot seem to reason with them and they toy with us for 10 to 15 year bouts.

    Irrespective of their manifestos

    So here is a practical construct for consideration

    This “gi’ dem a second term tuh do someting” is not working!!

    THe world does not go on pause while they “learn how to run government”

    Five years!!

    Hit the ground running that was what you should have been doing while you were in the opposition, LEARNING TO DRIVE.

    You and me does get in a public bus with a learnee bus driver “to go up Horse Hill???”

    So until we can see change, we going change them.

    You do not get 10 years continuous service for any pension.

    THis way we all in potta.

    Mr. Brathwaite for your viewing pleasure

    Like

  16. Well Well & Consequences July 12, 2016 at 5:23 PM #

    http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2016/07/12/nowhere-to-go/

    At least Donville is facing reality…lol

    http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2016/07/12/mara-must-answer/

    We dont want to hear this over and over and she still says nothing, there must be something in the constitution to make her stop her disrespect of the people and tell the truth….she is arrogant and disrespectful.

    Like

  17. George C. Brathwaite July 12, 2016 at 5:27 PM #

    @ pieceuhderockyeahright

    For reasons, several of which we may share, I tend to agree with you and do hope that in large measure you are CORRECT!

    Like

  18. Well Well & Consequences July 12, 2016 at 5:32 PM #

    Nowhere to go!
    Inniss warns CARICOM not to follow UK vote

    Added by George Alleyne

    Stay in CARICOM because you are not welcome anywhere else and you have nowhere to go!

    That is the message which Minister of Industry, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss has for any Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country which may be contemplating leaving the 15-member grouping in similar fashion to the United Kingdom’s recent vote to leave the European Union in the so-called Brexit referendum.

    Inniss noted that since Brexit some regional countries have been worrying about its impact on the region and that there have been suggestions of them pulling out of CARICOM.

    However, Inniss said: “Our politicians need to stop panicking and behaving as though it’s the end of the world and making threats about leaving CARICOM.

    “Leave and go where?” he asked.

    “Nobody wants you. You need to stay in the region,” he said while delivering welcome remarks at the opening of the 28th Council Meeting and Convention of the Caribbean Association of Administrative Professionals (CAAP) at the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) headquarters.

    In a clear message to some regional leaders, he added: “I don’t care if you’re from Jamaica and feel you big, or you from Trinidad and have oil money, the bottom line about it is in the grand scheme of things, you’re a little dot in the ocean.

    “We need to stop this foolishness as politicians making veiled threats and start to find ways of working together. We have a common history, a shared destiny. There is much more that unites us than divides us,” he said.

    The minister commended the CAAP for demonstrating more Caribbean unity than could be found in other regional groups.

    “Your organization is a regional organization that has a bond, and I only wish that at the political level we have a similar bond . . . . Your organization is perhaps an example, or perhaps the one entity in the region that CARICOM can certainly learn from.”

    Inniss also dismissed the notion of any regional country joining a Northern, Central or Southern American grouping with the same membership status enjoyed in CARICOM.

    “You going to go and join Latin America and South America? They don’t want you,” he warned.

    “Or you going and join your wagon onto Donald, he doesn’t want you [either].” Inniss insisted.

    Lol it’s only the retard Moneybrain thinks Trump is the second coming….look MoneyB, with all ya fake superiority, a black man is displaying intelligence…rare though it is, and he went to Harrison College high school too…lol

    Like

  19. Colonel Buggy July 12, 2016 at 6:06 PM #

    As Barbadian sit back and are afraid to speak out or do anything about this useless government, the recent sudden deaths , could be associated with a similar happening in Guyana.
    http://www.caribbean360.com/news/guyana-seeks-us-help-chickens-drop-dead

    Like

  20. TheGazer July 12, 2016 at 6:20 PM #

    One man’s opinion..
    @WW&C
    I remember seeing a video with Doville Inniss speaking and I thought his manner of presenting himself was quite smooth. For slickness alone, he would be tough to beat. Add half a message to his slickness and he would be unbeatable.
    That is no PPK, a Gatling gun.

    Like

  21. David July 12, 2016 at 6:59 PM #

    @George and Walter

    We need to deflate the hardening of political stripes in Barbados. There is enough evidence to paint a picture of where it will eventually lead.

    UWP and SLP supporters converge outside parliament

    Like

  22. Well Well & Consequences July 12, 2016 at 7:06 PM #

    Gazer..yeah some measure of slickness from Donville…but not enough to reel me in. He still can’t be trusted.

    Like

  23. Pachamama July 12, 2016 at 8:30 PM #

    @David

    Again you have made a good point.

    The political divide only requires a few things for your fears to be realized.

    A foreign government agent provocateur, and money and materiel directed into a fake issue on both sides.

    Like

  24. Well Well & Consequences July 16, 2016 at 9:15 AM #

    Why is nothing being done about the dangerous disaster QEH has become.

    The newborn wards have exposed wires in the ceilings….broken windows among a myriad of dangerous issues..

    http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/83239/op-table-collapses

    Now this…

    Like

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