BLP COLUMN: Bright, but not shining
Never before in the history of Barbados had so many people waited so long to hear from their Head of Government, only to be severely disappointed by what they did eventually hear. The result was a national collective stupse and yawn of disgust and boredom that have still not disappeared nearly two weeks after Prime Minister Freundel Stuart subjected the country to that comprehensively discredited, politically incestuous interview by one of the employees of the state-controlled CBC for which he has ministerial power.
All of which has served to prove correct the old Barbadian words of wisdom that “when you start wrong, you end wrong”, and amply bore out the lessons of stubbornness, insensitivity and defiance in the biblical tale of people being given a stone when they asked for bread, and getting a serpent when they sought fish.
For over the past six months of Stuart being Prime Minister in his own right, the Barbadian public had patiently waited for, expected and finally demanded that he give them much needed and greatly deserved insights into the breadth, length and depth of his vision for our nation, and how he proposed to inspire his fellow countrymen and women in bringing it to reality.
What the public was looking for was nothing unreasonable, extraordinary or unprecedented. Indeed, it was something they had become accustomed to getting from all of their previous leaders. But rather than being provided with even an outline of such a national vision by a man who has bragged of having studied the Prime Minister’s office from the time he was a boy, instead we got a presentation from him that in no way whatsoever made him stand out as the leading political thinker one would have naturally expected by virtue of his office – and the superior academic and intellectual aura generated by his manner and use of language.
Who else these days uses words like “solicitude” to effectively communicate with ordinary Barbadians?
Far from projecting himself as the “leader” of his Government, Stuart came across as competing with his ministers in making trite, clichéd and overworked statements with great profundity, all apparently in the grossly mistaken belief that being preachy, platitudinous and moralistic can be a satisfactory substitute for the properly thought out policies and programmes that are largely yet to be presented by this Government after more than three years in office.
No wonder civil servants are sniggering about people spending time reading newspapers and philosophy while files pile up.
Except for his disclosures about cameras at the airport and seaport and Denis Kellman’s ministerial future, Stuart said nothing new. But most revealing was what qualified Kellman to continue as a minister: namely that the St Lucy MP had been a loyal Dem who had been through “thick and thin” for his party and therefore had to be “accommodated”.
No hailing of Kellman for being rumoured to be outstanding as an acting minister or Ambassador to CARICOM, especially where the still non-existent fishing agreement with Trinidad and Tobago is concerned. So in the severest economic downturn modern Barbados has ever known, is it fair for us to pay for the largest Cabinet ever?