Barbados’s Imitation Democracy

Submitted by Caswell Franklyn

The Houses of Parliament, seen across Westminster Bridge in England - Wikipedia

At a press conference just prior to his 80th birthday in March 2011, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said of his country Russia:

“We have everything – a parliament, courts, a president, a prime minister and so on. But it’s more of an imitation… We have institutions but they don’t work. We have laws but they must be enforced”.

With the exception of the reference to a president, those sentiments are equally true for Barbados. Our country is supposed to be a democracy which operates under the Westminster System of governance as practiced in England. We have copied all the major democratic institutions from England but our copy does not work. It seems as though when they were making our copy of the Westminster System, the copier was extremely low on toner.

One of the main planks of the Westminster System is a separation of powers among the three branches of government, namely: the judiciary, parliament and the executive (cabinet). In Barbados the separation that is vital for the effective functioning of the state is virtually non-existent. What passes for governance in Barbados makes a mockery of the Westminster System and is merely a parody that should be an embarrassment for an educated people.

According to the Westminster System, the lower house of parliament has the power to dismiss the Government. In our present parliament, the cabinet forms the largest group of members in the House of Assembly, even bigger than the Opposition and the Government backbench combined. It therefore means that the Cabinet members of the House can out vote the other members, which in effect means that the House of Assembly has no control over the Cabinet. What we have can only be described as a dictatorship operating under the guise of a parliamentary democracy.

In order to dismiss a government, the House would have to pass a resolution with a two-thirds majority, but that is not realistic because in order to do so the Cabinet would have to vote against itself, effectively making them a judge in their own cause. If our Parliament is to function as part of a truly democratic system, the members of the Cabinet who are also members of the House should be restricted to a maximum of one-third of the size of the House. However, even a cabinet of ten members seems a bit much when you consider that Barbados is really a micro state with few resources. The only reason why a prime minister of this country would need such a large cabinet would be to provide jobs for his colleagues. A cabinet which contains sixteen members of the House in the context of a House of Assembly of thirty persons destroys any notion of a separation of powers between the Cabinet and the Parliament.

The non-existence of a separation of powers between the Executive and the Parliament is cause for concern, but of greater concern should be the non-existence of a separation between the Executive and the judiciary. The Governor-General appoints judges on the advice of the Prime Minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, but the Leader of the Opposition has no power to block the Prime Minister’s choice. Effectively, the Prime Minister appoints the judiciary. The unseemly spectacle that emerged surrounding the appointment of the present Chief Justice should make every right thinking person shudder, but the Prime Minister got his man.

Another cause of concern that does nothing to put a distance between the Executive and the judiciary is the fact that a high court judge could only be promoted to the Court of Appeal with the Prime Minister’s blessing. Just imagine that you have a case against the Government in the High Court and there is a vacancy in the Court of Appeal, and immediately after you lost the case, the judge who presided in your case is promoted to the Court of Appeal. Would you be able to shake the belief that the judge sold you out for the promotion? Whenever a person loses a case against the Government or the court awards small damages against the Crown, there will always be the lingering belief that something went wrong because of the non-existence of a separation of powers between the Executive and the judiciary, which takes away a judge’s independence. There is a saying that justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done: there will never be the appearance of justice being done as long as the Government maintains its control over the judiciary.

140 thoughts on “Barbados’s Imitation Democracy

  1. @ Bush Tea

    It depends on your definition of quality!! In my books, quality in the context of good governance is not solely about competence but attitude, ethics, integrity etc.

    @ Wizard
    “The PNP has been on the election trail for more than a year. It had blasted the JLP government for the handling of the economy and said it had brought shame on Jamaica with its handling of the extradition request for Coke.”
    May I also remind you that the DLP won in 1989 too and by 1991 what happened? Well history has a funny way of repeating itself, though I doubt it will this time.

  2. De hood,

    Stay right where you are i.e under the hood.

    Because if you ever raise yuh head the amount of details the DEMS have pon your boys gine blind yuh !

    By the way did not Owen Arthur admit he knew about the $750,000.00 cheque ?

    Or you pulling an Owen stunt like he did Parliament…when lied and told Barbadians he was not at Cabinet chairing over the decision with the Pierhead Marina .

    Bajans waiting on Owen.

  3. It’s Barbados’s. It’s not Barbados’.

    This is an actual fact. Can’t you dozen people in the jerk-circle get even THIS right?

  4. de hood wrote “a 3/4 million dollar campaign cheque .”

    It was only $75,000. That was just pocket change that Owing was holding for de partie.

    Can’t even buy a new Toyota camry wid dat!

  5. @ Black Man Who Reads

    Are you so sure about that?

  6. @ Wizard
    Fresh ideas from the PNP like removing general consumption tax from energy bills, whereas our MoF says he can’t ease consumers while BNOC profits?

    That $750,000/$75,000 cheque will not work this time. Unless you have to prove to us, by showing their bank accounts, that your candidates have not/do not do likewise.
    I wish ALL sitting MPs had to face a nomination, don’t you? And what happened with Verla, Hal Martin and Taan?

  7. wizard,

    Go back to spinning your web but do so truthfully.

    I thought the dead king said it was $75,000. How it get to be $750,000? Or to hide your DLP shame you are just spewing lies? Deal with the trouble in your camp and how they were plotting to get rid of FS. Tell the people how much of the CLICO policyholders monies you all squandered in 2008. It was millions, not thousands.

    Did you not see that one of the reasons the plotters gave was that there was no campaign cash available yet. They said they had campaign money since 2006 for the 2008 general election. All from the policyholders of CLICO. And by the way, let the public know from the dead king’s wife how much money is in FAMILIES FIRST account. That’s where all the CLICO and JADA monies were stashed. The DLP’s hands are dirty when it comes to campaign finance, wheel and come again.

    You all better hope the BLP does not win because the former cash cow of the DEMS will be held accountable for not only the taxpayers $10 million the dead king gave them without Parliamentary approval but also for the policyholders hard earned cash.

    You can curse me all you want!!!

  8. @Hants | December 30, 2011 at 3:51 PM |

    de hood wrote “a 3/4 million dollar campaign cheque .”

    I was only repeating what “Wizard” from de Dam Lying Party was trying to put forward. Check out the sequence of posting and you will understand to what I am referring.

  9. @ David| December 30, 2011 at 4:16 PM |

    It seems things are heating up, hmmm.

    BU will update the blog tonight on this issue of the treachery in the DLP camp.

    It’s gonna be “cat piss & peppa” this time when de bell rings whether it be February or May 2012! I hear Fruendel (or Froondelle, I can’t spell too well) looking for a new Cabinet this weekend. I suggest he check out Courts or DaCosta mannings real quick. 🙂

  10. @ de hood

    FS going for a bullet proof Cabinet, fellas who ain’t going to be inclined to toss him on his head as was the wish and plan of Sinckler, MLashley, SLashley, Inniss, Boyce, Jones, Brathwaite, Hartley, Leroy ‘Green verbs’ Parris and the JADA boys Bjerkham, Tempro and Maloney.

    Sealy will be Minister of Tourism, Housing and Deputy PM
    Estwick will be Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Water with a Minister of State in Senator Jeptor Ince
    Sinckler will be Minister of Foreign Affairs
    Maxine McClean going home
    Darcy Boyce Going home
    Michael Lashley will be a backbencher
    Brathwaite will be a backbencher
    Hal Gollop will be Attorney General

    the rest only making up numbers.

  11. @Homeopathic | December 30, 2011 at 4:53 PM.
    You sure you got the right homo in your alias? You seem to know a great deal about Dem Lying People.

  12. @ de hood

    From your alias clearly, you still in de hood. You’ve made one achievement in your boring little insignificant life tho, you managed to get electricity and a computer so congrats.

    BS$75,000 is only the tip of the iceberg for OSA, who must be a sucker for punishment and on a relentless drive to what little bit of legacy he has complete destroyed.

    These feelas going make a mess of him in the up coming elections, the blows he took in Parliament over the lie of not being in Cabinet regarding the Dodds Prison will pale in comparison for the guys going to do to him.

    They intend the politically draw and quarter him with the able assistance od MAM.

  13. @ Homeopathic
    Stupse! Wunna really think Bajans igrunt bout prison like the SMI-Marina deal was done with clean hands or the $10m to CLICO or the NIS money to BPWCCU to buy CMFC or………..

  14. @Homeopathic | December 30, 2011 at 5:11 PM |

    @ de hood

    From your alias clearly, you still in de hood
    Mr. Homo,
    I’d rather still be in de hood than where you would be found. Up somebody’s rear somewhere!

  15. Wizard
    Are you serious? The DLP seems to be following in the path of St. Lucia and Jamaica, remember it is most difficult to beat the PPP/C in Guyana but with the PNC running them so close, is also a victory. You made some statements why the Barbados situation is different, let me reply to you.
    You indicated about a $ 750,000.00 cheque, your late P.M spoke about a $75,000.00 cheque, therefore you are calling the late David Thompson a liar, by the way, where is the cheque? You idicated that the internal party voting within the BLP is frauulant, you mat be right, but so too is the DLP’s, ask Austin Husbands, Hal Marin or Taan Abed. You spoke about betraying party colleauges, have you forgotten the David Thompson/ Mascholl battle royal that almost split up the DLP? and before that the Sandiford/ Richie Haynes saga, that cause the DLP to lose its position as the official opposition? You stated Portia Simpson has brought fresh ides, were they fresher than Holness’. The Jamaican went for some-one who has a track reccord, whether by luck or otherwise the BLP was good enough to bring us out of a recession with a 8% cut in civil servants’ pay, not only was it returned but he passed legislation that it never happens again, plus the entire country stated to look up; devaluation was no longer threatening.By the way, St. John will always vote DLP whether or not there is a swing, many of the votes Mara got were sympathic votes, that’s why FS should have ran in St.John and secure his position for the general elections. Both Stuart and Sinckler, will not be able to help their colleauges come the general elections, since both of them will be fighting to keep their seats. What abour all the promises the DLP make to the voting public that caused the big swing? Integrety legislation immediately, the lowering of the cost of living, the investigations into Hardwood Housing, Highway and all the other over-runs? Now we seen almost half the money spend to improve the highway, being spent to fatten somebody’s pocket, with the Warrens disaster. Should I go on, or have you seen the similarity between the St.Lucian and Jamaican elections and what can happen in Barbados? Jamaicans have not forgiven the JLP for the Dudus Coke affair and bajans will not forgive the DLP for the Clico/ Family Guardian affiar either. Boy oh boy the DLP is between a rock and a hard place while the BLP is only slightly better. Barbados facing difficult time, take out the three-legged pot and start picking up wood , most of all start growing your own crops and keeping a few yardfowls, not the BLP or DLP type but the ones your grandparents used to keep.

  16. David and bu cabinet reshuffle Chris Sinckler to the back bench Hal Gollop as Attorney General Richard Sealy Deputy Prime Minister Ronald Jones Michael Lashley Donville Inniss shifted

  17. @Negroman

    I bet u Hall Gollop will not be AG, he is a BLP. Ronald Jones will continue to act as DP. I support CS being moved, but to agriculture and DE to Finance. I think DI will remain as Minister of Health and believe that Stephen Lashley will also be moved.

  18. Negroman
    Haven’t heard from you in a long time, PLEASE beg the DLP to awake from their slumber and take the government handling seriously or we will be sucking salt for a long time to come. You have a healthy 2012.

  19. And now to you idiots who thought it necessary to volunteer your finger prints because you “needed” to get a US visa. This country which to date has made no attempt to adjust its evidence evaluation legislation to account for the unreliability of this form of evidence, is quickly becoming a more obvious (its has always been, particularly for non-Whites) tyrannical state.

  20. To BAFBFP:
    I wholeheartedly agree with you. With the spin here one would think that one was on an Indian batting wicket. What gets me is what they expect the “audience” to think of them?

  21. @ Homeopathic | December 30, 2011 at 5:11 PM |
    “These feelas going make a mess of him in the up coming elections, the blows he took in Parliament over the lie of not being in Cabinet regarding the Dodds Prison will pale in comparison for the guys going to do to him.”

    And no body in the “deciding voters” category wants to hear. It was heard in December 2007 & Early Jan 2008. Why don’t the remaining “fellas” use the evidence they have in hand to bring charges against him? Talk about FoI and Integrity Legislation and the ‘floating’ voters might just listen, again!

    Home-made remedies of lies and deception tend to have an opposite effect of poisoning the concoctor who tastes his own medicine to establish the efficacy.

  22. enuff | December 30, 2011 at 5:46 PM |

    I does feel sweet too, particularly when I standing in front of a mirror and pretending that I bowling. De only “breaking away” you could be doing is tearing thru glass …!

    I faget ’bout this thread

  23. checkitout. it seems that mr stuart has proven those commentaors who predicted cabinet changes or executions in mr stuart’s new year’s address wrong. Matter of fact, was there an address to the public for the New year?

Leave a comment, join the discussion.