THE LOWDOWN: Who goin’ rule this country?
Like the Barbados Constitution, I would prefer to steer clear of political parties. However, there are times when one feels obliged to put in a word for the forces of unity in the face of the persistent agenda of those who seek to divide us.
Following a Wickham poll which showed former PM Arthur way ahead and current PM Stuart lagging, David Comissiong summed it up thus: “A mere four years after the Barbadian people decisively rid themselves of a 14-year-old BLP political administration that was taking the country down a path of national betrayal and indignity, they are being forced to flee from the ineptitude and indifference of the succeeding DLP administration.”
A bit strong but more or less on the money. And he lambastes the Bees on grounds which are difficult to refute. See the PEP column of June 1.
To date I have seen no apologies from the Bees for their policies (code named STIBIA – sell the island, bring in aliens) which so infuriated Bajans. Nor any promise to change direction if elected in the future.
The Bees seem not to understand that short-term economic prosperity does not translate into a happy or contented populace. And they act as if we, the Bajan electorate, were guilty of voting out a blameless party.
The Dems inherited the aftermath of these policies and the infuriation continues because they have been unable to stem the take-over and exploitation of our businesses, agricultural lands, utilities and banks by foreign entities. Mr Stuart faces an uphill battle.
Columnist Adrian Clarke is daily “reminded of the anger and frustration Barbadians are going through”. At times he wonders if “some of what is happening in the Middle East will spill over to us”. And he fears that if the political leaderships do not change direction and start delivering, “one day we will see the updated version of 1937”. Let’s hope not.
What a sorry admission that, after 46 years of Independence and running our own affairs, our political systems have so dismally failed us.
The problem is that our leaders sign on to concepts which come back to enslave us, concepts like CARICOM (literally “carry our commercial activity elsewhere); “globalization” (pronounced “glow-bull-ization” – the outside controllers get the “glow” and what do we get? Exactly!); and, worst of all, democracy (de mockery of de people).
Democracy is an adversarial system of one-upmanship: you give free education, I give free school meals, you give free computers, I give free bus fares, on and on until we reach the point, like now, where we can’t pay the university bill.
Democracy creates the myth that the people run the country. But since the masses tend to vote for whichever party promises the most handouts (a sure recipe for disaster) and since political parties depend heavily on business tycoons for financial support, you can figure who ultimately calls the shots.
Some reckon that under democracy leaders have the first 100 days to make meaningful changes. After that, they’re focused on spreading (and receiving) largess to win the next election.
Harold K. Nicholls of bakery fame used to stop by to chat. After the Grenada revolution he went down to assist and was amazed at what a unified people working together could achieve.
This was no democracy. The elected government had been overthrown, the constitution suspended.
And from all reports, it worked wonders until some members got too power-hungry.
The political future isn’t boding well for Barbados. The word on the street is that elections will be in October; the Minister of Agriculture’s recent outburst could be a sign that he is crossing over; if the Dems go into the election with Mr Stuart as leader, it will not go down well if they ditch him after winning; and the outcome of the Mia/Owen saga is anybody’s guess.
This is not the first crisis we Bajans have faced and we can ride it out if we stick together. We must reject those who seek to divide us into Euro-Caribbeans, Afro-Caribbeans, Indo-Caribbeans and whatever or on religious differences.
Every day world headlines scream the pointless suffering and senseless killings in countries where history and ethnic divisions have been exploited to turn citizens against each other.
In the end, disillusioned, they go home to find that no real change has been effected.
May calm Bajan common sense ever prevail.
• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.