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EDITORIAL: Politics needs new vision

Barbados Nation

EDITORIAL: Politics needs new vision

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LEADER OF THE Barbados Labour Party (BLP), Miss Mia Mottley, has clearly recognised an important aspect of this island’s political landscape. The leaders of the political parties risk becoming irrelevant unless they understand and embrace the aspirations of a young, educated and less mendicant citizen.

Hence her message this past weekend to party colleagues may very well be a harbinger of a significant change in the political terrain. Given the nature of our two-party structure, what one party does the other usually mirrors. After all, there is very little difference between them, especially in public perception.

Nevertheless, Miss Mottley must be congratulated for starting what is hopefully a process of redefining the political landscape, leading to greater democracy.

But then again, in an age driven by an educated class, the impact of new technology and the widespread use of social media, politicians no longer have the upper hand on the majority of the people. The reality is that with an ever-increasing number of people willing to think for themselves rather than shout a chorus for politicians, the demand now is for different political and economic institutions. Clearly, we need a new vision.

Many people consider politicians to be tribal and venal, with self-interest as their main preoccupation. For many outside the corridors of Roebuck Street or George Street, politics is disdained if only because it is seen as contradictory and messy. This may be far from the truth, but the perception is deep-rooted and entrenched. Miss Mottley’s effort is therefore but a small step in dealing with a big issue.

Her focus on having the electoral list cleaned up speaks to the party’s preparedness for elections as is the commonsensical focus on getting some new, “noble” blood to face the polls. The big challenge in reinventing the BLP will fall, interestingly, to a team led by Dr Clyde Mascoll, former leader of the other long-standing Barbadian political institution – the Democratic Labour Party. What he comes up with and what the BLP accepts and institutes could be game-changing.

The public’s disenchantment with our politics is related to several areas, on which remedial action is required:

• The issue of party and campaign financing needs to be addressed while political parties must be more accountable to the public.

• The colonial era practice of all elected MPs not being full-time representatives must end.

• There must be better constituency representation, extending beyond an MP’s office.

• There is need for clear separation between the Executive and the Legislature.

• Parliamentary Select Committees must work, be influential and open to the public.

• Parliamentarians, especially backbenchers, must not blindly follow the party whip.

These are but a few ways to initiate the political change that people so earnestly desire. Political parties can no longer be driven by an ambitious, egotistical few. They must truly represent that public-spiritedness they loftily expound.