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THE LOWDOWN: Almost to Mara

Richard Hoad

THE LOWDOWN: Almost to Mara

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Whaddaya know? I have just discovered, courtesy of the Saturday Sun, that young Rihanna and I have exactly the same New Year’s resolution! Maybe we’ll even get to do it together. Wow!
Anyhow, in these days a decree has gone out from Editor-in-Chief Kaymar Jordan that all Nation columnists, about 12 of us, shall meet with her at the same time, on the same day, at the same place, all together, on a “one-on-one” basis!
Already great is my admiration for our youthful Editor-in-Chief. But if she can pull off this one, I shall fall to my knees and worship her.
What does one say to an Editor-in-Chief? In 21 years of writing I have made but one request: could they tell me when changes are made to the column? Every editor and Editor-in-Chief has agreed. It has never happened. And insiders tell me “it ain’t gonna happen”. No problem. I can live with that.
On the other hand, what might an Editor-in-Chief say to me? Only once did an Editorial person advise me (1) that the Nation is majority owned by the Trinis and respect is due to one’s owners; (2) that the “Nation” supports CARICOM and Caribbean integration.
Whether these were instructions or friendly reminders, I know not. I have ignored them steadfastly. Lowdown Hoad cannot be owned. Nor would this paper be worth its salt if it doesn’t cater to dissenting views.
With that in mind, therefore, let us ruffle some feathers.
Bajans unreservedly took Mara Thompson into their hearts, especially after her husband became Prime Minister and later passed away. She came over with a natural beauty not needing jewellery and junk to set it off. And her warm, genuine personality set her above the “gutter sport” (to quote Ricky Jordan) that is partisan politics.
And what is a politician? The most commonly used adjectives are far from complimentary: lying, corrupt, t’iefing, power-hungry. This reputation is probably not justified in many cases, but a few bad apples can do a lot of spoiling.
Yet politics undoubtedly changes people. Jeff Garvey once told me he hoped to get some mileage out of a new agriculture minister (not Haynesley Benn) before he “became a politician”. Two weeks later, he phoned: “Too late, Rich, boy! Too late!”
So why would Mara Thompson want to get into local politics? We can rule out money or power. To continue her husband’s legacy? Political dynasty is not part of our culture.
To help the people of St John? That too doesn’t wash. A parish representative has no special leverage. She could achieve as much or more as a private citizen. Ask Dame Olga.
Unless, of course, she gets a Boarhog Ministry.
A “Boarhog Ministry” is one which gives its holder power unlimited. The biggest Boarhog is he (or she) who controls Transport and Works or whatever it’s called. He can give jobs, appoint suppliers, pave roads in his parish.
It is unlikely Mara will get a Boarhog Ministry.
Next, we turn to pushover parishes. I travelled St John daily when my children went to school there and it was undoubtedly a neglected “pushover”: a parish that supports the same party no matter what. St Thomas is similar.
Political parties have limited budgets. Why spend money on a parish whose votes are sure? On the other hand, the opposing party won’t waste money on a parish where it can’t win. So pushover parishes get left behind.
Contrast St Andrew. We change parties straight and regular. And we have barber-greene coming out the wazoo, Government jobs for the yutes, more street lights than the airport.
So let’s make some easy predictions. Mara will win with a massive majority. She will have a victory motorcade. She will be given a ministry.
She will then discover the facts of political life. “Collective responsibility” of Cabinet means she may often have to support what she doesn’t believe in. Roughly half of Barbados will now be against her.
But the food is good.
Wait, oops! My wife just glanced over my shoulder and pointed out that Rihanna’s new year’s resolution is “sex”, not “sax”, which is what I was hoping for.
No chance for a blow together, it seems. Oh well . . . .
• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.