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THE MOORE THINGS CHANGE – The party’s over

Carl Moore

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FOR THE PAST TWO YEARS of writing this fortnightly essay, I have deliberately avoided political commentary. Not that I am afraid or loath to jump in and express an opinion – I wrote my first newspaper column sometime back in 1962.Although the society often calls for more political analysis, the moment anyone steps forward to express an opinion, his or her political pedigree is called into question and that becomes the subject of the analysis. It wastes time.Long ago, I had decided that party politics was not for me. There were two basic obstacles in my way: first, I ask questions . . . of everyone, and therefore disagree often; second, as a journalist, I couldn’t see how I could become a member of a political party and retain my independence. Since 1961, I’ve voted BLP, DLP and NPD, all depending on the programmes offered at election time. I withdrew my BLP vote on January 15, 2008, and gave it to the DLP, mainly for two reasons: first, no political party need occupy office for four consecutive terms – they become dictatorial and fat, and need to do some time refreshing on the Opposition benches. Second, I took great offence in the way a Barbadian citizen for whom I had the highest respect became Chief Justice of Barbados. The only way to register my disappointment was to withhold my X when I entered the polling booth.Now, after two and a half years in office, the Democratic Labour Party administration, without the leadership of Prime Minister David Thompson, is a ship with its rudder disabled.I am not so easily sidetracked by sarcastic bunker rhetoric and the noisy rantings of court jepters who exercise fiscally and think physically. A debate has already begun over the “constitutional right” of a senator to explain financial issues to the country. I am not competent to comment.Now that the annual wuk-up season is over (or is it?), the country must face up to the challenges ahead. But I doubt we will – entertainment has become an industry in its own right.Various entertainment packages and non-stop partying will provide enough material to keep the “cultural industries” busy all year round. If the late, prickly Professor Gordon Lewis could see Barbados in 2010 I am sure he would adjust an observation he made almost 50 years ago. He wrote that the Barbadian was “. . . bereft of the capacity for fiesta by his Cromwellian-Puritan background”. Not any more, Gordon. If only we could bring you back and place you on the road to Spring Garden last Monday afternoon!The Prime Minister’s unfortunate health setback is also a setback for the country. Even before his withdrawal to recuperate, I had had the impression that his administration did not quite know what to do in response to the country’s economic problems.The Member of Parliament constitutionally in line to take over the leadership of the country prefers to avoid going in to bat at this juncture of the innings. He has no choice. This is not the time for a night-watchman. What if Mr Thompson can’t continue?If Mr Freundel Stuart is reluctant to take the lead, what about the Minister of Economic Affairs Dr David Estwick? No one in Opposition took the fight to the Arthur administration with more vigour and persistence than Dr Estwick. Let him address the country. It needs leadership.The Press conference of ten days ago was clumsily designed to avoid a direct, frank address to the country. We deserved better.Certified accountant Peter Boos is accurate when he recommends: “Tell them the truth. Barbadians are smart and will respond to good, commonsense leadership.” Someone also has to tell us – if we can’t see it for ourselves – that the party’s over; that Barbados must settle down and earn its way in the world. We can’t just borrow and wuk up our way out of hard times.
•Carl Moore was the first Editor of THE NATION and is a social commentator. Email [email protected]