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ALL AH WE IS ONE: Letter to Sinckler

Tennyson Joseph

ALL AH WE IS ONE: Letter to Sinckler

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Dear Minister Sinckler,
I hope my readers can forgive the personal tone of this public letter, but your recent belligerent and universally-condemned response to the Leader of the Opposition’s decision to formally move a motion of no confidence in your economic stewardship, requires a response of urgency and sincerity captured best in personal tones. Since you represent my generation’s early exposure to ministerial power, my historical responsibility compels me to advise you publicly if only for absolution from future condemnation.
Following so closely upon your unnecessary “bald pooch cat” reference to the representative of the CLICO policyholders’ body whose only sin was to represent the interests of her membership, your suggestion that the Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley should strip off her clothes and run down Broad Street for attention, is indicative of a particular style of politics which is beginning to define you. I am recommending an alternative approach.
Whilst some may deny that you are “representative” of an entire generation, this era of materialism and self-centredness is resulting in the glorification of what is decadent and backward. Today, cynicism, opportunism and Machiavellian one-upmanship are seen as the essence of politics. Indeed, I teach a class of political science students whose role model is the mercenary political consultant rather than the Walter Rodney sacrificial types. Image-making rather than transformation is their guide. 
I had hoped that those of our generation pursuing politics would have striven to discard, rather than glorify the negative.  If we inherited a politics in which past generations had been, despite their developmental focus, authoritarian and anti-democratic, our more formal political education should have motivated us to transcend their limitations. Sadly, we are failing both at development and democratization.
It is in this context of obvious developmental failure that I empathize with your predicament. However, as compensation, you should be developing habits of political decency. Instead, you practise the reverse.
You have too readily sacrificed ideas and principle at the altar of political expediency. As a member of Caribbean Policy Development Centre, you opposed the Economic Partnership Agreement, only to champion it as minister. Following the public concerns over certain “worrying practices” during election 2013, you were one of the few public figures who professed to have had no concerns, missing an opportunity to contribute to advancing our electoral practice. Similarly, a more developmentalist and less belligerent spirit would have avoided personal attacks against the University of the West Indies’ personnel during the 2013 Budget debate. Perhaps now, an opportunity exists for a change in direction.
Seek first development and everything else shall be added unto you. Develop skill rather than image, pursue work rather than office. Criticism is inevitable. However, public office demands magnanimity of spirit. Your village-type quarrels aimed at crushing your perceived enemies diminish your stature.
Finally, always be guided by the fact that politics is a revolving door.
• Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, specializing in regional affairs.