WILD COOT: You now want change
IT IS NOT AS EASY as you think. There was a time, probably in the 1950s, when Barbados was not as corrupt as it seems to be now that it might have been possible, but not now. I am referring to talk of a third party.
I tend to agree with pollster Peter Wickham. To be a candidate for a third party now, one has to have a stomach of steel in order to deal with the varying situations. Buying and selling votes! Errol Barrow succeeded although we are now destroying many of the landmarks that he set up. Education, health, national insurance, the central bank.
First there must be a charismatic leader who can attract people of all walks of life. He/she must be eloquent and credible. He must have a sufficiency of money and be of independent means; also able to bankroll the weaker candidates of his team.
With sufficient funds from himself and or some entity, he must be able to carry forward the messages of his party strongly through the length and breath of Barbados by pamphlets, meetings (private, community and political), rain or sun. He will have to deal with the begging element. This element can sink you or propel you into success.
But there is a catch. It tells you that you need to help the household with gas, electricity, baby pampers, a job and a swarf of other things too numerous to be described. Then there is the silent element that will not face the campaigner. A knock on the door will elicit the answer from inside through the louvres, “Well, I cooking now, come back later”. Or “My father was a “D” and his father was a “D” and I is a “D”, I can’t change”.
Sometimes you are hearkened by a favourable reception. “Come in dear and have a seat while I finish these bakes”. You may be sitting in silence for an hour not knowing that the invitation is meant to slow down your campaigning strategy as long as possible.
Then there is the hanger-on element, those who would swear support for you on the cross, even accept a “smalls” for helping you campaign but would vote for the opposition on voting day. These are but a few of the problems that a new boy on the block can face. Mark you, the Wild Coot is speaking from experience garnered over not one, but two campaigns.
While the National Democratic Party (NDP) was a failed experience, out of it came a wealth of good. Whereas meetings of other parties had a disparate order of business, the NDP platform started with the National Anthem and boasted “no vulgarity”. It produced a range of educational topics. No wonder despite the lack of success, most of its proposals saw daylight in the future programmes adopted by the mainstream parties. There was the 100 per cent mortgage for which Mr Blackman took the Wild Coot to task in 1991. There was the conversion of rent into equity in the housing developments. There was the security bond (still to be adopted instead of the foolish guarantee scheme offered by the central bank). We proposed constitutional and governmental reform, we addressed the question of law and order – vexing situation today; we proposed Member of Parliament recall, a remand centre for first-timers.
Do you realise that the NDP tried in 1991 and again in 1994, each time proposing candidates who were already parliamentarians, a senator, trade unionists, university professors, diplomats, lawyers and even a banker, just to name a few? Both times, in 1991 and 1994, we failed and did not even get back our deposits.
We drew the largest crowds to our political meetings, but we failed. Barbados will never accept a third party. Why? Perhaps it is myopic. So let’s hear no more about a third party foolishness. They say “a country gets the government it deserves”. That seems to be true.
To quote Lowdown from last Friday’s WEEKEND NATION: “So that a white man from the EU and a white woman from Britain can dictate to us how we should discipline children, punish murderers; whether we allow our young men to be legally buggered. All the while boasting about ‘independence’.
“I go with Errol Barrow’s vision ‘that the people of Barbados would be able to run their affairs, to pay the cost of running their own country’. It grinds me to hear people saying we must cave in to whatever tourists want. In Havana before Castro, they could request a nine-year-old boy, an 11-year-old girl. Do we copy?”
Never a truer word spoken. Our central bank even kowtows to foreign economic experts!
• Harry Russell is a banker. Email [email protected]