EDITORIAL: Reconnect truth and governance
“The lies in politics worry me. But that is not what worries me most. What worries most is our collective political indifference and acceptance of the lies. That is a problem for our democracy, politics and governance.” – Dr Ronnie Yearwood
AT THE OUTSET of his lecture on Governance And Truth, Dr Ronnie Yearwood, a Barbadian who lives and works in the British Virgin Islands, and who made an unsuccessful attempt to enter representative politics recently when he contested the nomination to represent the Barbados Labour Party in St James South, touched a raw nerve.
Our public debates are blemished by far too much uncertainty over the veracity of declarations given by persons in high office. These are sometimes supported by claims that are not supported by the facts.
Between inconsistencies and audacious promises are false avowals of performance. We are then served sham assurances that gloss over reality as threadbare pretence stares us in the face.
Lack of integrity in public service and disrespect for the law are two aspects that are painfully obvious to us. Although we have no money to pay for salaries and services, we continue to create unearned currency as though there is no tomorrow, no day of reckoning.
Barbados has also ransacked the funds of the National Insurance Scheme in support of loans to Government, an abuse that offends the guidelines for the fund’s investment portfolio.
Our indifference to breaches like these is clearly what alarmed the lecturer.
If our historical experience is anything to go by, as Barbados approaches its silly season of elections and as support of political entitlements burgeons, voters will be required to sift through an abundance of counterfeit information that will be on show in place of the simple honesty that voters require.
Not hamstrung by the partisanship that would have silenced his independent voice had he been chosen as a candidate, Dr Yearwood’s speech afforded thinking Barbadians a fleeting opportunity to look at ourselves in the mirror. His opinion is that the reflection is not at all flattering.
In that respect, and returning to his theme of truth and governance, he observed: “At the core of this is also the battle between truth and falsehoods, which divorce us from our government and divide us from each other.
This is a battle not only for the present, but also for history because of the ease in which lies can pass into history as truths. In this battle, let us create a new model of governance, inseparable from truth and in doing so, let us make Barbados that shinning city upon the hill.”
Those who highly regard the historical leadership role played by Barbados both at home and in regional affairs would be heartened by this suggestion of a return to the glory days of exemplary guidance in public affairs and prototypical leadership.
A new governance model is not too far-fetched a concept once we recognise that the present standard has failed us and possibly corrupted up.
What is required is a promise from our political class that there will be an abandonment of the abuse of power for personal gain and for providing undue advantage to friends in business and supporters of a particular streak.
We urge the voters of Barbados to use the opportunity of this impending election cycle to insist on a return of principle to our political life and a re-connection of truth to governance.