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Infantile disorder

Tennyson Joseph

Infantile disorder

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Prior to December 2011, the narrative of the upcoming electoral battle in Barbados, from the viewpoint of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP), was clearly set.
The DLP’s central argument was that it had successfully pursued a strategy of containment in context of the most severe global economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Whilst understandably no spectacular economic growth could be pointed to and no major infrastructural projects could be touted, a policy of securing jobs in the public and private sectors was flagged as evidence of the Government’s commonsense response to the global crisis.
The public, if asked to endure pain, was at least assured that the social and economic tensions clearly visible via satellite in other parts of the world had not reached Barbados’ shores.  
In addition, the main Opposition, occupied as it was with post-election leadership tensions, was unable to insert itself sufficiently into the national dialogue to disrupt the dominant conversation between Government and the people.  
That was the essential narrative into which Barbados had been plugged since 2008. The DLP Government therefore was walking, albeit unspectacularly and ordinarily, towards the next election – but at least unified, in step and without complication.
It is a telling indicator of the level of political experience, maturity and wisdom of some of the key players within the DLP that this essentially uncomplicated path was risked for an unknown glittering road.  
Even more telling of the level of political experience is that the genesis of the DLP’s self-inflicted troubles resided in the fact that for the first time since their glorious election, many of the new Members of Parliament were beginning to experience pockets of negative feedback from their once adoring public.
For any politician worth his salt, these experiences would be par for the course. Denis Kellman’s reaction is a case in point.
There have been several public discussions in Barbados, including one led by a respected former Governor of the Central Bank, in which the adjective “inexperienced” has been used, without malice, to describe some players in the DLP. V.I. Lenin would use the phrase “infantile disorder”.
No other word or phrase can best describe the panic by politicians, who sought to use a torch to kill a roach.
Lulled by their 2008 electoral successes, they overreacted to the early signs of pre-election withdrawal from their constituents and to the electoral vibes emanating from neighbouring countries, they set the house on fire.
In their overreaction, the DLP parliamentary group has single-handedly changed the entire narrative leading to the general election.
Whereas the national conversation previously revolved around broad structural questions about the global economy and the future development alternatives for Barbados, today the debate is about the political skill of the ruling group itself.  
It is an unprovoked, self-inflicted wound. What infantile disorder!  
• Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus specializing in regional affairs. Email [email protected]