WHAT MATTERS MOST: Fair game?
It had to happen! The circumstances surrounding the choice of Mara Thompson had to become part of the politics of the St John by-election. The several dimensions of her candidature offer opportunities for exciting debate which politicians would find difficult to resist.
These several dimensions include the nature of the seat itself, the family issues and the timing coming so soon after the death of her husband. Another less personal issue is that the country is at a stage where the political cupboard is not as full with the ingredients that we had grown accustomed to in the halcyon days. This reality will be at the heart of a rational discussion of the candidature for one of the safest political seats in Barbados.
Any safe investment carries a higher real rate of return and must be accompanied by greater scrutiny and due diligence; and in every sense, Mara’s move is an investment.
St John is simply the best seat for any Democratic Labour Party politician to covet. It has been represented by two Prime Ministers, of whom the first has a clear legacy. He was named Barbados’ Man Of The Century, is considered the Father of Independence, and is an inspiration for the post-World War II generation of Barbadians, among others.
The two most defining moments of modern Barbados may be described within the context of free secondary education and the attainment of Independence. The former prepared us for industry and the latter pride. This is the essence of “Barbadiana”!
The children who took the Common Entrance Exam in 1961 were born around 1950 and are today around the age of 60. Those who were born in 1966 are about 44. Give or take a few years, the age cohort between 40 and 70 is perhaps best placed to understand the sacrifice required for success in this country.
This group is now the heads of households who know what it is to aspire, inspire and achieve through hard work and dedication. Several of them would have fought against odds that were built into the system, and succeeded. The females took slightly longer to emerge but are now out in their numbers and they, especially those in the middle class, are finding it more difficult to understand the inheritance of Mara Thompson.
Strangely enough, it is the timing of the political opportunity that is most difficult to digest. In an odd way, Barbados’ road to success has not been paved with privilege for all; rather the journey has attracted its fair share of deprivation and in some instances lack of opportunity for some.
A simple inheritance of the St John seat is not permissible as it is going to have far-reaching implications for the politics of the Democratic Labour Party and by extension the country.
Furthermore, the Democratic Labour Party recently fought against regional integration while the Barbados Labour Party fought for it. The symbolic implication of Mara Thompson becoming a Member of Parliament is huge, with the possibility of becoming a leader of the party and the country.
Perhaps the most trying inconsistency is the one with which females especially have difficulty. If politics is such a troubling endeavour, why would it attract a lady, with a family of daughters and one especially young one, so soon after the passing of her husband whose life was dedicated to the trouble?
This question is based on their observations over the years and the perception of the females’ challenges in what has been to date a male-dominated environment. Perhaps the reasoning females are not fully appreciative of the nature of the opportunity that presents itself to Mara.
If as the political scientists believe that a political leader ought to have a safe seat, then such an aspiration by Mara would not be unrealistic. This is where logic is not always reasonable!
For some it may not be unreasonable to treat Barbados like a private company.
• Clyde Mascoll is a professional economist and Opposition Barbados Labour Party spokesman on the economy.