Nation e-Edition

EVERYTHING BUT: Follow the leader

EVERYTHING BUT: Follow the leader

By Ridley Greene | Wed, October 17, 2012 - 12:00 AM

. . . As I have said over and over again, politics is not a spectator sport. The stakes in politics are much too high. The unemployed, the disabled, single parents, the homeless . . . depend on what politicians do. And if we do the wrong thing, people’s lives are adversely affected. – Prime Minister Freundel Stuart earlier this year on the topic Barrow, Charisma And National Development.

If we didn't know better, we might have latched onto the notion that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart had at last found on Sunday night a meaty policy issue, as rich in nutrient as was his memorable declaration that for him politics was no spectator sport.

We Barbadians know that Mr Stuart has before sunk his teeth into more profound issues and burgeoning challenges than the perceived worry about or wrong of a platform ostensibly Barbados Labour Party-esque. It could only have remotely appeared that way by the absence – by choice – from the NATION Talkback forum by members of Mr Stuart’s Government.

We Barbadians also know the erudite Prime Minister to be capable of rising far above last Sunday night’s partisan tirades against THE NATION. But maybe Mr Stuart has come to an understanding that politics after all is a blood sport fought in an arena where an excitable electorate is ready to give a thumbs up or thumbs down.

Even those minds filled to intellectual capacity learn something new every day – if they will.

Here is another for the grasping. One consequence of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP)/NATION imbroglio has been the grousing about the Dems’ bungling with the people’s forum by the “undecided”, “don’t know” and “won’t say”, who could be quite sympathetic towards the Government.

Speaking from a people’s platform to the people is a whole lot different from barking at the populace from a politician’s podium. And every opportunity an astute political leader gets to lay out what his party has already done successfully and will do differently in time to come he takes. Don’t make bloody sport!

Attacking the media, in particular THE NATION, a spectator sport over the years for politicians – the now very dead and the energetically alive – is inherently flawed. The simpleness is a belief that a politician can do without the medium he curses.

The matter of the fact is the politician requires the said medium to carry his tirade, so the world may know of his feelings, however out of character and grossly mistaken.

As a man studied in practical and theoretical political history, Mr Stuart must know this, and thus the kind of simplistic messaging he got himself into on Sunday is unworthy of him. The decent and focused gentleman I know him to be I missed.

On quiet reflection and introspection – interrupted only by the soft strains of Johann Strauss or Joseph Haydn – the Prime Minister will be the better for it.

I sincerely wished he hadn’t sworn never to participate in any NATION Talkback forums, and I trust he will make amends – for the sake of the people he governs – for flubbing an opportunity that cannot really be revisited.

It is not too late for the Prime Minister to cure this lapse in judgement, and he may rest assured that any attempt he makes will be met with a good dollop of forgiveness.

In or out of Government, Barbados needs the placidity, known temperance, measuredness and patience of a Freundel Stuart. What he articulates – outside of beating up on THE NATION – can be an exercise in intellectual massaging and upliftment.

Sadly, we have been sinking into a rah-rah, quick-fix, look-pretty, all-for-short-cuts hole of self-destruction. I thought we might have put such degradation on hold these past few years. Alas!

It is not by chance that Barbados Labour Party star Mia Mottley has been positioning herself as an enemy of this shallow thinking and instant coffee mindset, taking the high road on many a national issue as she engages Barbadians and takes seriously the role of the Press in sustaining the rights of citizens.

Right-thinking people know we need the means towards substance and reality to survive this global challenge that is going nowhere in a hurry. Fluff and poppycock won’t cut it!

• Ridley Greene is a Caribbean multi-award-winning journalist.

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