The Impact of Owen Arthur’s Politics Of Inclusion On The Political Landscape Of Barbados~A Personal Success But Has It Been A National Disaster?
There are the partisan political Joes’ in Barbados who would have us believe that when politicians cross the floor of parliament, it should be accepted as business as usual. By “crossing the floor” BU is refering to members elected under one party banner decides for personal and other reasons to join the party on the other side; in our case, the opposition party. There is the other meaning where some party members from time to time may choose to vote with the opposition on matters in our parliament which require a vote. This is something which very rarely happens in Barbados.
It seems that we have a group of highly educated members of parliament who all prefer to think and vote alike!
Although the prolific crossing of the floor is usually associated with countries which have more than two political parties, there is enough to suggest that it could happen in a country like Barbados, despite our strong two-party system, which in our opinion would eventually lead to instability. This is very true when we factor the politics of inclusion which has been practiced expertly by Prime Minister Arthur. Did we say expertly? We say expertly referring to its execution; but at BU we feel that it has had a damning effect on the kind of democracy which Barbados has enjoyed over the years and will perpetuate for years to come.
The ability of Arthur to exploit those times when the Democratic Labour Party has been unsettled in recent years, and to wave the prospects of dollar bills along with access to the prestige of performing in a sitting government, has seen many a barefoot DLP politician crossing the floor or joining the Barbados Labour Party during the last 10 years.
What it has done is provide short term success to Arthur and the Barbados Labour Party; however, if we examine what has happen more closely we see the cracks in our beloved democracy starting to appear because of it. Remember what we said in our opening: crossing of the floor minimally occurs in strong two-party systems which have been entrenched for a long time. Defections from parties happen within new parties and governments made-up of fickle coalitions. Italy and Israel come to mind. In Barbados, we have seen Arthur in the last decade of his stewardship used the politics of inclusion to infuse his party with new blood. It is not a novel concept; the idea of refreshing “people” in his party to ensure that it remains “hungry”, which untimely should lead to the BLP being able to sustain its popular support__has worked! What it also shows is the BLP’s inability to attract quality men and women to create the pool of talent which Arthur needs to run his government in a new and demanding global economy.
Who will pick-up the pieces?
Now that the politics of inclusion has ensured Arthur’s short term success but by each passing day continues to destabilize our two-party system, what next? We have bad news. Our educated population continues to be hung-up on a polarized relationship where we are still seeing too much of “I is a Bee or Dem” approach. Regrettably, this behavior is not limited to the uneducated or illiterate which makes the prognosis for our future all the more challenging. We think the more important observation is the impact which a “new breed” of politician continues to have on our political landscape. We know them too well: Clyde Mascoll, Kerri Symmonds, Trevor Prescod, Hamilton Lashley, Johnny Tudor and the lot! It is not about being loyal to a philosophy which is symbolized through the party, it is more about doing a job for a salary. If this thinking is allowed to take further root, then the confidence in our two-party system will dissipate rapidly; in fact it has started. The apathy and cynicism felt for politicians are evident in our society, and is well supported by scientific evidence. We need not remind readers that it runs counter to the model of government which we have borrowed from Little England, the beloved Westminster system.
Read our article entitled- Barbados~A Falling Star which addresses the result of our shallow approach to governance and politics in Barbados in recent times and the fall-out we anticipate from it.
The big dilemma for David Thompson is he now finds himself in a position where there is a dearth of talent from which he can choose. We know that DLP faithfuls will start to spout the academic credentials of each DLP candidate who has been declared. The BU reality is, while they have an abundance of academic knowledge, we do not see the charisma or excitement emanating from the DLP’s slate of candidates which will capture the minds of the Barbadian public that is crying out for change.
The big question is__has Arthur’s politics of inclusion eliminated the threat forever of a DLP? We hope that somewhere down the road David Thompson will reveal the ace up his sleeve, but for now we are very doubtful. Thompson is currently trapped in a corner where his strategy of delivering weekly sound bites which tap-in to the controversial issues of the day makes for a next election defeat. It is not enough to say that the government has an open door policy to immigration, land etc. He has to declare a DLP approach which convinces Barbadians that there is a viable option to sustain our high living standards enjoyed over the years.
The DLP’s short term hope is for Thompson to practice a “do fuh do” strategy. Is it conceivable that Thompson could attract 2 or 3 calibre BLP politicians and give Arthur a dose of his own medicine?
Barbados Free Press Story: