Government Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

The following is an unabridged version of the article which appeared in the Nation newspaper today (17 January 2013)

As far as I am aware, this is the longest interval between general elections since Barbados had democratically elected governments. Some have disingenuously proffered the view that Government was elected for five years; and is fully entitled to serve out that time, plus a maximum additional ninety days which allows for the return of election writs, in accordance with section 62 of the Constitution.

While there is a person occupying the office of Prime Minister, he is the only person that can advise the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament and call elections before an automatic dissolution. Section 61 (3) of the Constitution states:

Subject to the provisions of subsection (4), Parliament, unless sooner dissolved, shall continue for five years from the date of its first sitting after any dissolution and shall then stand dissolved.

However, it does not appear that the incumbent has any immediate plans to bring about a dissolution of Parliament unless it is absolutely necessary. But that time is almost upon us, the first sitting was convened on February 12, 2008 and Parliament would therefore stand dissolved on the fifth anniversary, (February 12, 2013).

There are probably many reasons for the Prime Minister’s reluctance to set a date for the elections. In my opinion, the major one is that he is scared: scared of losing to the Barbados Labour Party; but more particularly, he is scared of winning. If his party wins, despite the DLP’s public declarations of unity and loyalty to the Prime Minister, he is not assured that his colleagues would support him to retain that office. Only last year, there was some evidence that a significant number of his colleagues had difficulty with his leadership, to the point where there was speculation that there was an attempt to remove Mr. Stuart from office. He must be a most uncomfortable man, and to paraphrase Solon of Athens, he must put himself on guard at every side and turn among his colleagues like a wolf inside a pack of dogs. He is therefore enjoying every last possible minute of his swansong prime ministership.

Ordinarily, when Parliament is dissolved there is a maximum period of ninety days to call the general elections. In the current circumstances, Parliament must be dissolved on or before February 12th. Unfortunately for the PM, unless the Estimates and the Appropriation Bill are passed before that date, he would not be allowed to enjoy the luxury of three more months in office. Those two pieces of legislation must be in place before the beginning of Government’s new financial year on April 1, 2013. Failing that Government would run out of money and would be unable to pay its bills if it honours the Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House of Assembly.

As a result of the Opposition’s ill-advised boycott of Parliament, Government can now lay the Estimates in the House, amend the Standing Orders and pass everything in one day. That is tidier than the alternative where Government could allow Parliament to automatically dissolve and then re-summon it under section 61 (5) of the Constitution, which states:

If, between a dissolution of Parliament and the next ensuing general election of members to the House of Assembly, an emergency arises of such a nature that, in the opinion of the Prime Minister, it is necessary for the two Houses or either of them to be summoned before that general election can be held, the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister, may summon the two Houses of the preceding Parliament, and that Parliament shall thereupon be deemed (except for the purposes of section 62) not to have been dissolved but shall be deemed (except as aforesaid) to be dissolved on the date on which the polls are held in the next ensuing general election.

For completeness section 62 states, in part:

62 (1) After every dissolution of Parliament the Governor-General shall issue writs for a general election of members of the House of Assembly returnable within ninety days from that dissolution.

To my mind the prospect of Government running out of money and being unable to pay its bills would qualify as an emergency where the PM would be entitled to advise the Governor-General to summon Parliament.

In 2007, the then Opposition boycotted Parliament to force the Government to call elections. As a result, at least one horrendous piece of legislation, (the Public Service Act) managed to find its way on the books which is still wreaking havoc in the lives of hundreds of public officers. The Opposition must not desert the country at this time and allow this bungling administration to further sully Barbados’ reputation for good governance. Get back to the House and stop this nonsense. Your jobs are not over until Election Day.

0 thoughts on “Government Between a Rock and a Hard Place

  1. “As a result of the Opposition’s ill-advised boycott of Parliament, Government can now lay the Estimates in the House, amend the Standing Orders and pass everything in one day”.

    We shall see if we have another Mugabe in the making.

    Why not call the Opposition bluff by announcing immediately and holding elections with the minimum stipulated time allowed, obtain a fresh and decisive mandate from the people thereby putting the BLP opposition to rout. This would allow for sufficient time to debate and pass the Estimates thereby strengthening our democratic process and silencing and wounding the BLP for another 2 or 3 years.

    By doing this Freundel Stuart would indeed be one of the best and powerful PM Barbados ever had. He can then sing with great aplomb:
    ‘The tougher and hotter the battle the sweeter the victory after crossing many political rivers in Babylon Barbados.’

    He can then relax and smile and genuinely say to himself: from ‘helping clean the white man plantation great house to Ilaro Court where all is democratically elected mine’.

  2. miller,
    Maybe this is a ploy of Fumble, who knows? He said last week that nobody in the BLP can read his mind but he can get up at midnight and be able to read all the BLPites.

    But as far I know, the Estimates are far from ready. Good luck to them, I am sick and tired of this PM engaging in childish games like engaged in last night in the Pine. I dont think he would ever achieve the “greatness” label, though!

  3. Miller

    You are missing one salient point and that is Freundel is not assured that, if elected, he would end up as Prime Minister.

    The Eager 11 attempted to remove the PM when they had no legal authority to do so. Election night presents the only time that a prime minister is vulnerable. At that point, the MPs who have won a majority of the seats decide who will lead them and advise the GG of their choice. All are equal then. Can you imagine, the Eager 11, Freundel Stuart and at least four others meeting to decide who would be PM? Do you really believe that they would pick Stuart?

    This is not unprecedented in DLP History: In 1961, Barrow was not the leader of the DLP going into the election but he emerged as leader and Premier after the victory. The elected MPs selected Barrow to lead and advised the Governor of their choice. If the DEMS win the next election, History would repeat itself.

  4. It is also possible that the majority of BLP representatives that win their seats can support Mia Mottley and Arthur would be dealt the same lethal blow he gave Mia Mottley to remove her. Payne is expected to lose his seat to Irene, Edmund Hinkson who is expected to win is a Mia supporter so both leaders will be walking on egg shells on election night.

  5. @ Caswell

    You are very sound grounding with this potential danger for the PM. In addition the PM has left Sinckler untouched an Minister of Finance whereby he has and continues to build for himself a massive war chest.

    The Prime Minister is also clearly distancing himself from the legacy of David Thompson given he probably knows that the BLP has a copy of his Will and the alleged $37 million said to be contained in Families First Charity.

    How many times can you remember FS speaking the name David Thompson?

  6. Caswell,
    When Freundel claimed to have won the vote on the morning after DT’s passing, did the then GG invite all of the DLP MPs to Government House to ascertain that he did indeed command their support? Did Dennis Kellman who voted for himself tell the GG that Freundel would only get his support if he is promised a ministry?

    So my take is that if perchance the Dems win,God forbid, if Freundel dont get up to Government House quickly, they will outsmart him. But there again with all due respects, this GG is Freundel’s creature, so he would wait for Freundel.

  7. “But there again with all due respects, this GG is Freundel’s creature, so he would wait for Freundel.”

    this is the best move Stuart played so far. lets see how the rest work out for him.

  8. @ Prodigal Son | January 17, 2013 at 8:29 PM |
    “But as far I know, the Estimates are far from ready. Good luck to them, I am sick and tired of this PM engaging in childish games like engaged in last night in the Pine. I dont think he would ever achieve the “greatness” label, though!”

    Come on Prodigal my son, the miller is just taking the mickey out of the Fumbler. The man is totally out of his depth to be an effective far less “one of the best’ PMs of Bim. A country that only exists as a well-known modern-day socio-political entity because of its past strong, dynamic and effective leaders from Grantley Adams to Owen Arthur. Even Sir Lloyd was more effective than the Fumbler since he used to make decisions even if forced to because of economic circumstances.

    The indecisive man is a waste of space and only hanging on playing cat and mouse childish silly petty games with the electorate because of his ineptness and lack of confidence in his political skills and acumen. It is not the BLP that will determine his political fate but the electorate. So, ‘let’s get it on’.

    That silly gaffe about holding the election date close to his chest since March 2011 takes the biscuit and really shows what kind of man we are dealing with. Mr. Absolute Procrastinator and Bold-faced Liar himself.

  9. I agree with you, miller!

    The Dems are priceless. I heard one George Pilgrim this evening saying that the people of Barbados have not forgotten why they voted out the BLP in 2008.

    Hey George, newsflash……. the last five years are still fresh in their minds, they are living through the horror movie everyday. Neither have their forgotten why they voted out the DLP in 1994!

  10. Caswell;

    I think you’ve established that the BLP’s boycott of Parliament has essentially made the possibility of a fiscal cliff emerging out of this debacle a very unlikely event. In addition, with the BLP’s gift of a fast tracked estimates process, FS could now easily have the estimates and the appropriation bill passed before 12th February and would now have no good reason for extending the dissolution of parliament to the full allowable 90 days.

    I still think that the only sensible option that FS now has is to have the Estimates and Appproriations bill laid and passed by both houses asap but no later than next week; call the Elections as soon as possible thereafter and set an election date on whatever is the closest date to feb 11 as determined by Electoral Office imperatives.

    Stretching out the election date to later, even though he could legally do so, would be counterproductive since even he and his team must recognize that each day’s delay in calling the elections after 12th February would most likely mean more seat lost by them in the general elections.

    On another matter. Does anyone believe that FS had really determined and concretized the forthcoming election day in his mind as long ago as march last year? Were all his numerous last minute decisions carefully planned to misdirect people into thinking that he is indecisive and a fumbler when he really is the most astute, forward looking and intelligent Prime Minister to have ever walked the halls of the Barbados Parliament?

    • If the Prime Minister had the date in mind since March last year it questions whether the Prime Minister appreciates the strategic advantage of calling the general election on the date which gives the DLP the advantage. One would have thought the date called is driven by current events. The rising debate about whether the government will have time to lay and debate the Estimates would be funny if it were not so serious.

    • @Caswell

      Now that we are discussion between a rock and a hard place, any word on the 2.30PM meeting yesterday between the CPO and the BSTU?

  11. it must be hard trying to outsmart ! outmaneuver ! and outhink the PM. it seems to be costing many people sleepness night. Here is a man who says that he had planned over 2years ago the date of the election,yet! some here are trying to unravel the PM thought process something which many have failed to do since must be very hard. Good luck! in five years the BLP yardflows including the top brass and leadership of the BLP has failed but yet the BU BLP yardflows keep knocking their brains out , The PM must be laughing all the meanwhile losing no sleep .

  12. ac,
    The day after the elections, he will have so much time on his hands that he can finally go into a deep, deep sleep and wake up in ten years time! Sleeping giant, my backside!

  13. BLPites do not fear nor sweat.

    PM Stuart is just awaiting one more shred of evidence from Interpol on Owen Seymour Arthur – as soon as that bit of evidence comes in – Bajans will SEE MORE of the muck that now passes as the legacy of OSA !

    Any day now !!!

  14. One thing that I noticed from checking the BLP propaganda pages on Facebook is the amount of direct quotes and references to the Nation newspaper articles and columnists.It is therefore obvious that the BLP finds a lot of their views and talking points in the Nation newspaper so much so that they can reproduce whole articles from the Nation newspaper on their website.
    The most popular newspaper in Barbados has found itself as a mouthpiece for a political party.You have a BLP opposition leader that has basically boycotted Parliament for 5 years while drawing a fat salary and the Nation newspaper cannot produce one story on that issue.
    We had to read about that on BU but the Nation will try to make an issue of the cost of the PM’s trip to Australia. How many times did Arthur fly around the world in 14 years and not one reporter dared to write anything negative?

    The Nation newspaper like a good prostitute cannot attack its pimp. Where are your balls Sanka Price, Albert Brandford ? Are you men or BLP mice?

  15. Fractured BLP@ We cant wait to see some thing on all of them.

    NationBLPnewspaper@ nation paper is good for back up in the bath room, nothing to read but lies.

  16. I met Freundel Stuart in 1985, and in all those years leading up to this period, I have never considered him to be an idiot. As a matter of fact, I admired him and held him high in my estimation. It is therefore troubling to me to see how he is behaving of late. All the time I keep trying to come up with an explanation for his behaviour; and I keeps coming to me that he is a man of his word. He promised that heads would roll for the act of treachery against him by the Eager 11, but he never said when.

    I can only conclude that his behaviour suggest that his behaviour is a ploy to make all those heads roll on Election Night. Nothing else makes sense. Freundel is far too intelligent to be reduced to a blithering idiot in such a short space of time. I have heard no reports of head trauma. Mark my word, all signs point to one thing: he will get his revenge on election night. Mark my word.

  17. DAVID

    You are in full effect, all pretense of being impartial have now been abandon. Every anti DLP article, including this one which you mistakenly believe will not help the DLP, is being given prominence.

    Too little too late.

  18. There is no difference now between BARBADOS UNDERGROUND and the Nation newspaper.

    Including the writers!!!

  19. @ Carson
    Why don’t you do the DLP a favour and stop posting nuh? You making yourself, and by association the party, sound like immature, pathetic jokers.

    @ Caswell
    Has it ever crossed your mind that Freundel never really wanted to be PM; still does not want to be PM; and has no intention of continuing as PM after elections?
    Perhaps he always knew the election date because he always intended to “serve out the term” and done wid Dat….!
    …why you think he did not call elections right after Thompson’s death? …..perhaps he really ain’t bout that stress.

    Bushie feels that Fruendel studied law because it is easy, the work is easy, the money is good, and maybe he heard that there was easy access to free land (PLANTATION DEEDS)
    He then moved to politics because THAT was even easier, the money was even better and land was even more accessible…(prior to DEEDS coming on the blogs.)

    Becoming PM was unexpected, unwanted and stressful.
    …problems with CLICO, the Economy, the Tourism people, the Schools, the Eager 11, the Opposition, the Press, Energy, Agriculture, the Police Force, ….and lord knows what else that we don’t know about yet.

    Freundel looks or sounds like a man that want that kind of a job….?

    If you (Caswell) had gone ahead with the BUP and we were interviewing someone for the position of Prime Minister, we would not even short list FS (or for that matter O$A , or Mia, or most of the jokers currently in the runnings)
    Our current elections process would be good for choosing a pic-o-the -crop King or queen, but for selecting a National LEADER and manager IT IS A TOTAL AND PATHETIC JOKE….
    ………..Wunna can see now why nothing works….?

    The PM is behaving like a man that “dun wid Dat!”…

  20. @ NationBLPnewspaper | January 18, 2013 at 1:23 AM |
    “The Nation newspaper like a good prostitute cannot attack its pimp. Where are your balls Sanka Price, Albert Brandford ? Are you men or BLP mice?”

    We shall remember the above comment when the campaign for general elections get into full swing. We shall see if the same Nation newspaper will be used to peddle and broadcast via its sister company VOB any of the DLP propaganda for any financial gain to this “good prostitute” just to feed the lying habits of its anti-DLP columnists.

    Now tell us, NationBLPnewspaper, who at VOB (other than Peter Wickham) are anti-DLP? Carol Roberts? Man you are really seriously afflicted by an acute case of delusional disorder.

  21. Caswell and Bushtea;
    Thanks for your posts above that provides a character reference for FS. I have never met him and do not know the man other than by the reports of his utterances, etc., on the media. I do however have friends or former friends who swear to his above average abilities as a lawyer and his honesty etc. He is the lawyer of a family member of mine and she swears by him. He is the lawyer of a friend of mine who also swears by him, so on balance the references suggest that he is a sensible thoughtful man, an outlier on the good side of the distribution of the lawyer-politician population, who should have done an excellent job as acting PM and PM. But the overwhelming evidence of his performance in that job suggests that we are probably dealing with 2 different people inhabiting the castle of FS’ skin. Imho, his record as PM suggests that there might be something in both of your analyses about the man.

    Imho also. It would be catastrophic for Barbados if he and his party were returned to power in the upcoming elections.

  22. REMINDER – Lunch Time Lecture
    TODAY Friday 18th January 2013
    By Hon. Donville Inniss, M.P., Minister of Health
    Topic: “Beyond Errol Barrow – The 2013 Elections”

    George Street
    DLP HQ.

  23. I could not believe my ears a little while ago listening to the lady commonly referred to on Brasstacks as the “Trini lady”. This woman has some nerve though. Here she was lambasting people for being so critical of this government.

    Hello? Ms Trini, you forgot how during the BLP years you bombarded the programme weekly criticising and pulling down everything the Arthur administration did. What happen now? Do so dont like like so? I well remember one day she even said that Barbadians are too timid, they need to rise up against this government. Then David Ellis tried to say she aint say so when the “Senator” called in taking issue with a non Barbadian inciting Barbadians to rise up against a lawfully elected government.

    What now, Ms Trini? The shoe is on the other foot now? Are you like CCC afraid now that the days of feasting on the fatted calf are nearly over?? Your days as a board member of the Medical Council and all the government consultation contracts are in danger?? Has the end come too soon???

    Have you ever heard about KARMA??

  24. Government Between a Rock and a Hard Place @ IS TRUE


  25. David

    There is now sufficient evidence to conclude that Freundel has no intentions of being Prime Minister after the next General Election. He is therefore enjoying his last days in office and he has no desire to demit office a day earlier than he is constitutionally required.

    It also appears to me that there is no love among the DLP parliamentarians, and Freundel could not give two hoots what happens to them. It looks like he is taking the house down around him. But we have seen this behaviour in the DLP before: it is straight from Erskine Sandiford’s play book. You should remember that Sandiford collapsed his Government, rather than hand over to Philip Greaves when he felt betrayed by some of his colleagues. The Eager 11 hurt Freundel and he is getting back at them. The unfortunate thing is that none of them has the guts or rather balls to speak out.

    • @Caswell

      There is no obvious political strategy by prolonging the election date unless Stuart wants to push through some legislation to create a body of work he can own. But if this is the case it is like doing something for doing it sake which makes it a mockery. It is hard to accept your position given that Stuart is a student of history. Why would he want to become mired in Sandiford’s legacy?

    • David

      Stuart might be a student of history but he did not learn anything or it was not Barbados History. Every time I hear Stuart quoting Barbados History he has gotten it wrong. Sometime ago he delivered a speech outside of the country where he credited the Rt. Excellent Errol Barrow as the person who abolished bastardy. Students of History know that was part of the legacy of Henry Forde. Again, he got it wrong when he recounted the reasons for the teachers’ strike in 1969. Unfortunately for Irene Sandiford-Garner, she went to the Christ Church Foundation School and regurgitated the History according to Freundel to the student body, and had to be corrected by the General Secretary of BSTU who was present.

      Student of History my red seam!

      Sent from my iPad

  26. Caswell;

    I regret to say that I think you are most likely right. I had hoped and expected that it would not come to this pass where a PM would appear to be knowingly placing the country on a knife edge where its near future could be in jeopardy for the sake of making a constitutional point, nothing more, as the time likely to be gained will be counterproductive to what should be the normal overall objective of his party winning the elections. Your point about punishing the Eager 11 seems more and more plausible with each passing day. But if that is the case the personality it will unmask has a serious problem and needs help. Heaven forfends that he wins the election and retains the PM position for if so the consequences would be unimaginable.

    Today looks like the beginning of different nights for Barbados all because of a PM who marches to the beat of a different drummer and a Cabinet that appears to have no individual or individuals with sufficient intestinal fortitude and foresight to say “enough no more”. At least with Sandiford there were several Men with Guts and Balls, With FS, it looks at least for the present, as if that stock of DLP patriots have all died out leaving mere shells in their place.

    I do not understand why most of the posters here cannot seem to grasp that this could be the most important issue of these times for Barbados and its place re. good governance in the Caribbean, not the constitutionality of FS’ actions or those of the BLP’s meager reactions, but what this series of events could portend for the stability of our Island in the short and long run.

    Just a few questions;
    Do you think this series of well telegraphed and choreographed steps would be allowed to happen in Jamaica? in Trinidad? in Guyana? in Grenada? anywhere else in the Caribbean?
    Are our people any different to the citizens of any of the countries above?
    Yes, we’re docile, but why test the extent of that fabled docility?

    If Freundel does’nt step back from the cliff tonight and he has read our vaunted docility correctly, look for even weirder situations in the next term if he wins the elections.

  27. David;
    There is no obvious political strategy in anything that FS has done since taking up the mantle of Acting and later real real PM.

    Just look back at:-

    The St John bye-elections and the tight wire choice of a candidate
    Refusal to call full elections soon after DT died when he would have been assured of victory and his own mandate.
    Refusal to call elections at other points when the BLP was at its lowest ebb and would certainly have been wiped out
    His championing of Leroy Parris, not a leper
    The Eager 11 affair
    The many missteps in the AX matter
    The refusal to realign seats in St Philip to give an advantage to the DLP
    The total strangeness of deciding on a general election date almost 2 years ago and not varying it according to circumstances.
    And now stringing out the election based on constitutional niceties. Remember that he had the date nearly 2 years ago so he had planned to do exactly what he is doing, going to the very brink at this time, if we are to believe him.

    Hello! Do you see a pattern of strangeness here?
    What student of history what?

    The reason is staring us all in the face.

    • The following was extracted from Deputy Leader of the BLP’s Facebook page.

      Dale MarshallBLP ST.JOSEPH
      Information reaching us is that today is the last sitting of the House of Assembly and the Senate will meet for the final time on Friday. This strongly suggests that the PM will dissolve parliament and call the election immediately thereafter.
      The battle will then be truly joined but it will NOT be a battle to see which political party will win the election. That is too simplistic a view. The battle will be a battle between good governance and poor governance; a battle between right and wrong, wrong being where two DLP parliamentarians have pitched their tents firmly in the camp of local drug lords. It will Be a battle between prosperity offered by us, and an impoverished nation offered by the DLP. It will be a battle over whether we should ensure the survival of the University of the West Indies, or whether like the DEMs, we should bring it to its knees and shatter the dreams and aspirations of a new generation if our people. It will be a battle between lofty ideals of self-sufficiency, promoted by us, and the creation if a mendicant society relying on government hand-outs. We don’t need to dream of a better Barbados… We have lived it under the BLP.
      Let us rally Barbadians of every creed and class, from every walk of life, from every height and hamlet, to bring a sense of pride to our nation and its people.
      This is not for ourselves, but for generations yet unborn.

  28. @check it out
    These days are indeed funny nights. Brandy has now replaced my popcorn from 2 weeks ago as we wait….yet again.

    Uh gine off tangent hey!!! David ban muh effin ya dares.

    You could imagine if Freundel was dating a woman?? But she would gots ta be waiting pun evating! He wud:
    Tek long to call
    Tek long to dress.
    Tek long to drive.
    Tek long to order d food.
    Tek long in d restroom
    Tek long ta pay d bill
    Tek long to call back after d first date
    Tek long to come(to the house that is)

    I tell ya! Nuh wonder he ain’t marrid!

    Just Observing

  29. Election date will soon be announced. It’s coming, the election, that and a disasterous storm that will fall on the BLP. Maybe.

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