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Turn-over politics

Peter Simmons

Turn-over politics

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One of the most pleasant spin-offs of writing a weekly column is constant feedback from readers. Humankind is primarily a social being and how people respond to what I write is paramount.
In addition to readers’ reaction, it helps to measure if one is being read and who is being reached. A robust and unrepentant democrat, I always welcome communications whether praiseworthy, rabidly political, provocative or condemnatory. Additionally, writing this column has established valued new relationships across political borders.
In my September 4 column headlined Crime Gets Worse, I wrote about the worsening regional situation, pointing out it was “a major concern to all right-thinking regional citizens”. I got several telephone calls and emails, all supportive, three enlightening based on personal experiences.
Early Wednesday morning, a woman of a different political persuasion called. As rigorously polite as she is often wrong, she asked whether I had read a letter in that day’s Nation by a Charles Knighton in which he was calling for supermarkets to provide armed guards or small armoured vehicles to see/transport shoppers to their cars.
Confirming that I had read the article which made Barbados sound like Afghanistan, the woman bizarrely told me my article was to blame. I laughed loudly telling her she had bowled a long hop which I would hit out of the ground by pointing out that the same Sunday my article appeared, Mr Knighton’s letter also appeared in the other Sunday newspaper.
I also pointed out I did not know the gentleman, never spoke to him and resented being held responsible for his scary hysterics. She apologized profusely.
I do my household’s weekly supermarket shopping and in almost 50 years never felt in danger coming out of supermarkets in Barbados, New York, London or anywhere else.
Since my article, there were two more murders in 72 hours causing CBC’s Admiral Nelson to say Friday morning announcing the murder of a colleague: “The carnage of innocent human beings continues.”
All Barbadians with whom I speak are concerned and during the week the Barbados Christian Council met with the police commissioner to discuss emerging crime patterns.
Writing this column Friday morning, a background radio is reporting a United Nations representative saying violent crime is blunting development in Latin America and the Caribbean. Only those most comfortable with their heads securely buried in the sand can feel detached from the frightening and rising level of violent crime region-wide.
New Democratic model The continuing refrain from Opposition Leader Owen Arthur that he wants economist and former Barbados Labour Party (BLP) minister Clyde Mascoll, who walked away from the then Opposition straight into his Cabinet, to position himself to run for a seat in the next general election, excited several interesting comments from across the political divide.
If the leader of a political party knows a potential candidate and believes he has a contribution to make to national and party development, then I can think of no logical or legitimate reason which should stop him from saying he wants him on his ticket.
For reasons not difficult to discern, members of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) detest the idea.
Politicians, like some batsmen, often play too far across the wicket leaving their leg stump exposed.
Take Minister of Health Donville Inniss. He rushed into print denouncing Arthur, saying he is doing more harm than good to his party and accusing him of “cherry-picking” a constituency for Mascoll and ignoring other BLP candidates with legitimate aspirations.
He dismissed the process as “displaying nauseating arrogance” and “total disrespect for his party, BLP candidates and the electorate”. In his view, “playing the Mascoll card is another attempt to rid the political landscape of Mia Mottley . . . and people having differences with Arthur are being marginalized to accommodate his heir apparent”.
In Friday’s Douglas Leopold Phillips column, we were told of the DLP’s “very democratic process involving the views of the rank and file from every corner of the party’s base who are allowed to have a say. Their voice is given expression by a vote for or against a person of choice”.  
But those sentiments are at variance with what happened recently in Christ Church West and St James North which cannot be described in any way as democratic. In the former, the rank and file at a constituency meeting chose Tann Abed by 86 votes to Verla Depeiza’s five. In the latter, the rank and file elected Austin Husbands by 15 to Harry Husbands’ zero.
Shortly after, it was announced that the DLP’s executive committee had thrown out Mr Abed and cherry-picked Ms Depeiza; similarly, Harry Husbands for St James North.
What a “very democratic process”! Where was Minister Inniss when the overwhelming majority of the party’s rank and file was so crassly overturned in blatant acts of autocratic cherry-picking?
• Peter Simmons, a social scientist, is a former diplomat. Email [email protected]