BLP COLUMN: Vibe and feeling legacy
BLP legacy (1999-2003): placing the highest priority on the eradication of poverty, a $10 million per year Poverty Eradication Fund was established and the UDC repaired 681 houses at a cost of $14.5 million; built 338 houses with $13.1 million; dug 507 wells costing $1.8 million; and installed 130 septic tanks for $500 000.
Barbadians are being subjected to one of the most cold-blooded acts of political manipulation ever attempted on the trusting public. For this is a time when people are feeling more uncertain about their social and economic future than they have done since the early 1990s and the scorched earth policies of the then Democartic Labour Party (DLP) Government.
Thus the DLP would be reasonably expected to seek to reassure the public traumatized by the possibility of currency devaluation through the rampant printing of money, warnings of further rising unemployment, admission of barely measureable economic growth and IMF calls for a public sector wage freeze and rising prices.
But there has been no Prime Ministerial address to the nation; no Ministerial Statement in Parliament; no media conferences; not even speeches at branch meetings. In other words, more of no accountability and no meaningful leadership.
Instead, there is a naked and cynical attempt under way by the DLP to divert the people’s attention from their pressing real-life troubles through activities that would once again stimulate the pall of sadness that covered the nation two days short of a year ago, when Prime Minister David Thompson died in his prime.
The country genuinely mourned for 11 days before his burial and thereafter.
The DLP has mounted its first annual David Thompson Memorial Week Of Activities, supported by a memorial football tournament involving some $300 000 of public funds spent through the 30 Constituency Councils, and all intended to celebrate what the DLP calls Thompson’s “legacy of commitment and dedication” to improving the national quality of life.
Already Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has sought to excuse away Thompson’s very thin to almost non-existent record of durable achievements on the grounds that his short tenure did not allow him to “erect monuments or highways or make major legislative enactments”.
Thompson was Prime Minister for two years and nine months. Between March 17, 2008, and May 24, 2010, his administration could only muster two original legislative measures of its own: the Cricket Legends of Barbados Inc. Bill and the Constituency Councils Bill.
Contrast that list with the 18 original bills the Owen Arthur Government produced over a similar period (October 19, 1994, and August 8, 1997), including such substantial measures as the Rural and Urban Development Commissions Bills, International Trust Bill, Bill Establishing a National Council on Substance Abuse, Value Added Tax Bill and National Productivity Bill.
Based on the definition of “legacy” as “something handed down by a predecessor”, Stuart’s assessment that what Thompson had left behind was really “in the hearts and minds” of people can only lead to the conclusion that Thompson’s legacy was nothing more than a “vibe and a feeling”, according to the CBCTV promo.
Nothing beyond sympathy for the DLP to piggyback on like it has been doing with late Prime Minister Errol Barrow since his death in 1987.