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?


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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?

Related Stories:

Prime Minister Arthur Should Resign
Prime Minister The Master Of Spin~Does Anyone Feel Dizzy?
David Thompson Has Owen By The “Balls”~When Will He Squeeze?

Barbados Free Press Story:

Barbados Mascoll Affair Fuels Electorate Cynicism

11 thoughts on “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?

  1. I think that the BLp strategy going into the next election due to the baggage Arthur is carrying that you will see him step down for some reason or other and the BLP enter the election with a new leader promising new beginnings.

  2. Let me say that crossing the floor to join another political party as despicable as it is is perfectly “Democratic” and is practiced in many Nations of the World.

    However, those who practice it shows once again that politicians or few of them have any shame, character, loyalty or integrity. They are mainly after what their traitorous act does for them. In most cases they realize their lifetime dream of getting a major Ministerial portfolio out of it and which satisfies their pocket book very generously and their ego.

    However, I do not agree that King Arthur has been any great leader or Prime Minister because history will show that he was a “demagogue” of the influential in Barbados and a willing servant of the Foreigner. Both of who were Arthurs downfall because here we see Barbados and its economy and little resources being decimated and pillaged by Arthurs mentors for their own financial gain.

    Arthur will vacate his post as the CEO of Barbados leaving a legacy of debt, an impoverished majority populace and an island where money was spent on all of the wrong things and the wrong causes. Glitter and show is one thing but empty bellys, wallets, a bleak future and all of these things Arthur is responsible for now, has to be passed on to the youth of Barbados.

    Would someone please talk to me about this. The population of Barbados continues to grow at an alarming rate with those already there complaining about the high cost of food, no housing, schools falling apart, water shortages, industry being bought out by foreigners and in most cases these buy outs do nothing to create new and more jobs. And I am merely scratching the surface. What will the young generation coming along and those to follw do to survive? What future do they have? They will turn to crime and drugs to make a living and can we blame them when they see the other section of society not suffering the same fate as them and their mothers and fathers before them? And many of whom I speak living the good life in Bim are new to Barbados unlike the thousands of Bajans who have had to live almost in poverty from generation to generation with no help!

    Arthur had all of his priorities screwed up and the Barbadian inpoverished, poor and middleclass populace is paying the price. There are thousands of Foreigners and others in Barbados who are worth millions and not paying one damn cent in taxes excepting MAYBE some property tax. Check it out!

  3. Perhaps what we need in Barbados is some form of legislation which prohibits persons from crossing the floor without going back to the electorate.
    It may be democratic, but I think that is unethical to do so.
    The people of that constituency may have elected an individual based on party affilliation and for one to simply decide unilaterally that he/she is no longer representing party A is tantamount to betrayal if not treason.
    That person would have violated the trust which was reposed in him/her.
    This reminds me of what Lucille Baird wrote in February in 2006. Perhaps it needs repeating here:

    Lucille Baird wrote in the Barbados Advocate…

    “I’m very disappointed in the stance that Mr. Clyde Mascoll has taken in crossing the floor. Today, I want to direct this column to his attention, because it’s so easy to forget the past, as we’re confronted and overwhelmed by the present.”

    “…lest (Mascoll) forgets that it was he who warned us, the people of Barbados and the Caribbean to shun the very appearance of evil coming from the BLP in the form of the GEMS project (Hotel and Resorts Ltd $200 million) mismanagement, the Greenland Landfill $30 million error in judgement, the NHC building at Warrens that was termed as a national disgrace; and lest he forgets I want to remind him of all the ill-treatment he suffered during the pushing down of his ill-advised construction of the kiosk at Deacons Farm.”

    “I wept for him then. But, Oh! How he has forgotten!…”

  4. I think I read where within the past two years three MP in the Parliament of Canada crossed the floor and if I am not mistaken they were all handsomely rewarded for their treachery.

    As for passing Legislation to prevent it I would suggest you not hold your breath although I thoroughly and completely agree with you that when the perople of a specific party puts you in power. And you want to change party’s you should have to go back to the people!

    I think we have to look at this situation in the context that it is only one of many that politicians as a whole all over the world put in place that benefits them. The same is true with tiefing by politicians. How many do you see in jail and this includes countries with “Integrity” Legislation. What good does it do when politicians have no integrity?

    NB. The Owl please stick to using one user name!

  5. The Owl~we agree but to expect the politician to respond on their own volition we find a little unrealistic? We the people have the power and should demand certain things from our leaders politicians and other alike. We suspect the real problem resides within the bosoms of our people. What will it take to spring them to life?

  6. Sir David you have hit the nail directly on the head. Apathy is alive and well among the populace of Barbados and they deserve what they are getting from their political pundits.

    My point is Politicians hold the power and if crossing the floor to join another party is condoned in most Democratic countries obviously the people in them have had little impact on changing it. Maybe Barbados can!

    When you look at even large countries with huge populations that cannot convince more than about 50% to vote what does that tell you? I am not agreeing with it but after years of seeing nothing you vote for come to fruition you give up. Much Like is happening in Barbados!

  7. We the people of Barbados made only one mistake and that was to elect the bastards of the BLP into office had we known the extent of their corruption and stealing they would have gone some years ago.
    So you see the only problem we have with electing Mr Thopmson is how soon we can get the chance to do so and when can we vote him into office, not if, as it will happen.
    Scary as ever thoughts for you lot of BLP supporters is when the inquiry will get started into your corruption and stealing and just about each one of your elected officials get found guilty and charged accordingly and are finally humbled into submission.
    The new prison that Mottley, Arthur and Marshall concoted will be opened in style with the first inmates being the abovementioned group along with the Nicholls, Shorey, Wilkinson, Bannister group what a collection we have on our hands mulit millions in offshore bank accounts while they spend time in their new prison sounds like justice to me for the evil things that they have carried out while entrusted by the citizens of this island to govern this island.

  8. Floor crossing has a long history yet to be convincingly shown as a fundamentally destabalising factor to democracy in Barbados. Preventing it may even be argued as impeding the democratic process and encouraging political tribalism.

    It is a sin of ommission that you focus only the possibility that floor crossers have been pulled over by bribes-in-kind. Push factors abounded also and deserved some mention if only in passing.

    A cynical view has its place and certainly should be weighed in the balance. But Barbados is not as ideologically split between Bees & Dees so as to prevent an electee serving under either incumbent umbrella. And serving is what many – hopefully most – candidates put themselves forward for when opting to run. Do we really believe a life in Barbados politics is so gentle as to attract the venal in majority?

    In most of the contexts you cite the floor crossing reflects / reflected most on personal differences within the four walls of the opposition headquarters: party loyalty vs the chance to serve.

  9. LWM ~ I don’t disagree with your conclusion but our opinion was influenced by the idea that never in our history since independence has a Prime Minister of Barbados use the politics of inclusion to such a telling effect. We discounted the push factors based on the idea that if two parties are philosophically oppose then we should logically expect that a third party should be a first option e.g.David Commisong. So that it is not the crossing per se but the ease which DLP MPs have found a home in the BLP. It is also useful to consider that there will always be personal conflicts but in a mature setting such conflicts should be resolve along the way.

  10. David,

    it would take an unusually shallow defintion of ‘philisophically opposed’ to conclude that the two serious political alternatives in Barbados are such. They are both social democrats with differences therein found only at the margins.

    The distinguishing features have tended to be managerial and political expertise. As such discounting the push factors in any flor-crossing argument is brave.

  11. LWM~we are not that far apart We suspect where we separate is your willingness to connect push factors with crossing the floor. We think to do this is to disregard the perception of the voting public where there is still a big divide.

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