The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – Our Darkest Hour

Jeff Cumberbatch - Chairman of the FTC and Deputy Dean, Law Faculty, UWI, Cave Hill

Jeff Cumberbatch – Chairman of the FTC and Deputy Dean, Law Faculty, UWI, Cave Hill

They say we gone down de drain,

They say no more could we see happy times again


Now is the time to show we patriotism…

We could make it if we try– Black Stalin

Some of the lyrics from the calypso, “We could (sic) make it if we try” performed by Black Stalin as long ago as 1988, have been running through my mind for most of last week, and it is not because, as some wag will be sure to observe, that there is nothing or very little there to impede its progress. Rather, it is because it is eminently possible for me to identify with the sentiments of Stalin’s effort, both as to the comparative direness of our economic situation and the optimistic but simple strategy offered in the hook line that we can make it if (only) we try.

Stalin sings –

Now we country facing its darkest hour,

So our people needs us today more than ever,

But in our fight to recover, if ever you feel to surrender,

It have one little thing I want you always remember

We could make if we try just a little harder…

Our darkest hour would have somehow become even darker still, if that were at all possible, with the news yesterday that the rating agency, Standard & Poor’s had further downgraded the island’s sovereign credit rating from a barely mediocre B- to a lowly CCC+, thereby reducing our bonds to a status below that of junk. And the Ministry of Finance has tried to take this “gentlemanly” mark in stride, attributing it to the challenges posed by our low foreign reserves levels, and declaring itself expectant of an imminent improvement in these and a concomitant diminution of the fiscal deficit. In other words, we will do better next time.

Regrettably perhaps, I am not to be listed among those who consider that the sole answer to our current predicament is to march in protest against the governing administration or even to inveigh for Prime Minister Stuart to advise the Governor General to dissolve the current Parliament and to issue a writ returnable within ninety days for a general election. While this latter initiative would doubtless please some of the contributors to the Brass Tacks talk show, some bloggerati and a growing number of others no end, the more critical mind is driven to contemplate whether this would not amount in effect in that colourful phrase, “ to shifting deck chairs on the Titanic” even as the iceberg of our midnight draws ominously closer. I digress however.

It is here that we might take comfort from Stalin’s lyrics and resolve to at least “try a t’ing”. While our problem might be economic in nature, I am not at all persuaded that the solution lies solely in that discipline, although I make haste to aver that I have no economic training of any kind. A lifetime of learning convinces me, however, that the optimal answer is rarely to be found in one perspective only. Nor, to my mind, is the most effective solution a political one, at least not as politics are traditionally practised in Barbados with a heavy reliance on partisanship; when it has for long been clear that neither side of the customary local political divide has all the answers to our current asperity.

One clear answer would seem to be for the state to engage the minds of all those committed to a soonest improvement in our fortunes; a thesis that would, however, recklessly drive a ZR van through the hoary and crowded streets of local political division. Just look at the consternation that the mere floating of a suggestion that the experienced economic counsel of former Prime Minister Owen Arthur should be resourced to assist the current governing administration in finding a solution to the contemporary morass has evoked among some Barbadians.

The attempt to engage the Cabinet, members of the Social Partnership and other officials in discussion on the matter yesterday (Friday) is of the same laudable order, although I must confess my disappointment at not noticing any members of the so-called alternative government, the Opposition, in attendance. If they were not invited, this would have been a regrettable oversight and a missed opportunity by Government to demonstrate forcefully the collective nature of the existing struggle. If they were in fact invited and failed to attend, then this is equally regrettable on their part, serves as a testament of the unhelpfulness of partisanship in the current context and, perhaps, reveals the true nature of the beast that we will first have to overcome.

Any advance towards bipartisanship or, preferably, non-partisanship in our political context will require first a massive re-education of the local electorate. Indeed, some will argue, not without some cogency, that we may need also to reform the current constitutional praxis that reduces the local formulation of public policy to be a matter for no one else save a hand-picked Cabinet and members of one political group.

I am aware as any that this reformation will require a shifting of the basic norm of our constitutional ethos. This does not come easily, especially since it would require the very authority with the power to alter the existing order to engage in an act of self-destruction. Hence, one of the more effective modes of effecting this shifting is a successful revolution or an overthrow of the constitution itself.

No sane national would seriously advocate this for Barbados at this time and the national psyche would, most assuredly, boggle at this possibility. Nevertheless, as we face our metaphorically darkest hour, traditional thinking will cut little ice. Hence, the logical necessity for a third way that will commit to a renaissance of the Barbadian socio-political compact. Alas, none of those groups that has so far raised a head above the parapet appears to want to do other than to fill the vacuum left by the traditional duopoly.

There is, however, another pertinent adage in which we may take some comfort at this time. The darkest hour, I have been told, comes always just before dawn.

160 thoughts on “The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – Our Darkest Hour

  1. Hal…that shipped has already sailed CGI and Peter Harris have been effectively dealt with in the last 3 years and not only by one or 2 individuals, several individuals did what was necessary.

  2. @ David

    “local intelligentsia to lead”

    I’m at a LOSS about whom you speak, are they political, the media, the church, the entrepreneurs, the bus drivers or the ZR drivers. It would appear these “intelligentsia” are a rare bird or is it they are extinct in Barb(n)ados.

  3. Hal can’t stand Owen.Kaymar give Owen a platform.Now Hal can’t stand Kaymar either.Bajans have been saying for years that West Indians living in England return to Barbados madasass.Just saying.

  4. @David

    “Citizens” – are you suggesting a REVOLT, UPRISING, DICTATORSHIP etc. as the present Westminster System is obviously not working and will not work with the present level’s of inefficiencies, corruption, leadership etc.

    • @Wily

      The citizens will have to rise up in some form. It is the only way the establishment will be moved.

      It must start with leadership.

  5. @ Hal AustinMarch 5, 2017 at 5:35 PM

    Hal, wasn’t it you who once said that one of your parents (from the Ivy) had an establishment on Nelson Street?

    Well, if it was not a bar (dispenser of spirits of the intoxicating kind) it would have to a whore house of the entertaining kind.

    BTW, it was Walter Blackie who confirmed that the payments made to Greenverbs as confirmed by the JM forensic report should be subject to both VAT at the Thompson Laundry end and income tax via a corporation owned by the same leper Greenverbs.

    Now you have the ‘true’ facts you can run with them to the editor of any rag sheet in the UK.
    For sure the Bajan Today functioning as OSA’s PR firm will not publish such shit as rumour.

  6. @ angela Skeete March 5, 2017 at 7:34 PM #

    “interesting times ahead”

    I doubt that Barbados would fall into this scenario because of the following requirement “The only countries that may apply are those who are actively sworn to implement and support Sustainable Development.”, this alone would rule out Barbados.

  7. The island is 2 levels away from default brought on by Fruendel and his Fools, yet they still lie to the people…..this can only be described as psychotic behavior, when they still got the neerve to believe they will be reelected even with their worried looking faces, worried only for those paychecks funded by taxpayers, that they are yet to earn.

  8. I have always thought that the millions Guyana owes Barbados from 1984?when the Caricom Multilateral Facility collapsed leaving Barbados holding the bag with over 180 million in receivables,that that debt should have been used to purchase a few million acres of land in Guyana.

  9. Is a part of this problem the fact that all these islands are dependent on trickle down economics. All expecting a few dollars to trickle down from tourists pockets. When the going get rough, the tourists disappear and the economies are all in shambles.

    A third party must have diversification of the economy as a part of its strategy.

  10. Miller,

    No. My paternal grandparents owned a rum shop and bakery in Nelson Street. Not my father. My mother owned a rum shop in the Ivy. Both are now dead, sadly.

  11. A cockup of massive proportions…Caswell

    Fruendel already planted and dedicated a pitchfork to himself, he will be remembered as the incompetent prime minister who spent millions of taxpayer’s money burying a pitchfork instead of thousands to replace diffusers on the sewage system to prevent the various shitbombs flooding the island…..that will be legendary, but him and his goats will go down in history for bringing the island to economic disaster.

    “Former minister in the Ministry of Finance in Trinidad and Tobago, Mariano Browne, said with Barbados’ credit rating now comparable to Venezuela’s, measures to correct the situation “at this stage will be slow”.

    Stressing that “this is not a five-year exercise . . . [or] a two-year exercise; this is a ten- to 15-year exercise”, the former chief executive officer of the Bank of Butterfield in Barbados said on Starcom Network’s radio call-in programme Brass Tacks Sunday: “The real problem here is a crisis of leadership. You have to toe the line and that has assured that
    the party has fewer options.” (GE)

    Please read the full story in today’s Daily Nation, or in the eNATION edition.
    – See more at:

  12. “As the Minister of Finance said; we intend to earn our foreign exchange and not borrow; even if we could, to incur more debt. This to my mind is the best option.”

    Methinks pathetic is too mild a word to describe you and your commentary.

  13. Yesterday brass stacks had a so called program about barbados economy and right out of the box are economist whose islands economic has tanked several times over having debt restucturing programs that have kept them diggng deeper holes and austerity programs that have shaken their country social economic performance and have not helped by way of adding any gains to the country growth that is Jamaica of who i referenced
    Then there is Trinidad who has a treasure troff of resources in oil wealth and whose debt surpasses barbados by 5billion dollars and whose credit rating has tanked
    Brass attacks aporoach to one of highlting barbados problems by.economist whose countries problems are in worse condition under the guise of lessons learned is laughable
    Wheel and come again David Ellis brass stacks sucks

  14. i am saying brasstacks exbibits the kind of rheteoric one would hear on fox news.instead of opting to find economist who can give a balanced view of the causes and reasons behind carribbean nation debt brasstacks reach out to a bunch of losers whose eco nomies have tanked and for various reasons some of which have factors attributed to their own failures

  15. Angela,

    That is Barbadian journalism. Missing are key concepts such as objectivity, balance, impartiality and the right of reply.
    It I the politicisation of discourse, and the people now come to expect it. Sensible people do not even see the need for balance.
    It fits the US model: which interpret balance and objectivity across titles and programmes, while in the European model is that balance, right of reply, balance, etc must be embedded in the story.
    Different media cultures.

  16. Chuckle……Govt operatives are amazing….just look at this statement….

    instead of opting to find economist who can give a balanced view of the causes and reasons behind carribbean nation debt

    I wonder if this answer from international economist will help…

    charles skeete March 6, 2017 at 5:15 AM #

    “As the Minister of Finance said; we intend to earn our foreign exchange and not borrow; even if we could, to incur more debt. This to my mind is the best option.”

    Methinks pathetic is too mild a word to describe you and your commentary.


    I wonder where such a creature can be found that is willing to endorse this govts actions on its debt crisis.

  17. Exactly Hal. With all the resources Jamaica had it is inconceivable that there lessons would be of relevance to any help to barbados coupled with elected corrupt govts over the years and civil unrest.
    Barbados problem is unique because most of its policies are driven with an inheritant desire to protect the social fringes of an entire population which it can no longer afford.
    Hence barbados debt would continue to spiral out of control until govt accept and recognize that some social programs it must give some of the burden to those who can afford and stop living in a world of pretense that these programs are sacred cows and should not be touch
    Also what is anazing is that Ellis never asked the spokesperson for Jamaica how much balance of payment they still have and how many years jamaica with the help of Imf has been trying to lower their trillion dollar debt

  18. @ angela SkeeteMarch 6, 2017 at 1:11 PM
    “Barbados problem is unique because most of its policies are driven with an inheritant desire to protect the social fringes of an entire population which it can no longer afford.”

    You mean like constructing houses that are both u occupied and unaffordable in order to make a few politicians and elections financial backers rich and richer?

    You also mean the non-functioning constituency councils and the garrison-type rotten borough taxpayers’ funded football tournaments?

    Can you see from where some of the national debt can be ‘culled’?

  19. millertheanunnaki March 6, 2017 at 1:42 PM #

    ….then we had the year long pitch fork celebrations,overseas conferences that we hear nothing about,statuatory entities that are making the nipples very sore,overseas offices that achieve nothing,etc,etc

  20. Sir real estate is not a bad investment .All the other things that you present as nonessentials plays important roles in the development of youth . These non essentials provide safety nets and are used as directives to guide the youth on positive pathways

  21. The housing problem in Barbados is one of supply, not demand. We also waste space. We use up more land on building unnecessary roads, then proper housing. Just look at the development in Parish Land, little individual box houses, when occupancy should be multiples that per acre.
    My old favourite is the rejuvenation of the City, a slum area that has not changed much since the slaves rushed from the plantations at the abolition.
    We take it as normal four generations of a family living under the same roof; that is not normal. The growing number of young, professional people (all those graduates coming out of Cave Hill) want to enjoy a middle class lifestyle, including a decent home.
    Young doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountant etc do not want to live at home with their parents and siblings in the same rooms they have been in since their teenage years.
    The property developers all want government contracts since it is the easiest way to become super-wealthy. Proper social planning is the weak spot in our policy-making.

  22. Hear OSA touting that the restructing of barbados debt will be a gain for loweing the interest rate .but does not states that the principal takes longer to be paid off
    .also added to the equation of spiking oil prices which would impact govt expenditure which will increase debt and factors attributed to another global meltdown.
    Taking OSA route means taking a high risk of govt having to do like Jamaica and stay in a fourty year IMF program trying to save face by keeping creditors of govt backs a safety valve which chips away at the poor and rewatd the big financial institutions

    • You are clueless about what you are commenting.

      Do you know this government attempted to reshedule debt by floating a bond last year and had to withdraw from the market because there were no takers?


  23. That does not mean that barbados should slide down the same rabbit trap as Jamaica who has yet to pay off the principle of their debt after years of being in an IMF program coupled with strenuous programs with no end in sight and still not having sufficient growth to stymied a path towards progress which most certainly without growth jamaica would be like a gerbal keep spinning its wheels

  24. Vincent@mar 5th 4.09p
    Where you got the story that Stuart survived palace coups to maintain his position of primus inter pares.What palace coups what! It was another example of the man responsible for the ministry of finance Chris misunderstanding the requirement enshrined in the rule which says…..the member most likely to command a majority of members of the House.Chris in his fuzzy math decided that 11 out of 16 is a majority and went up to Pilgrim House,not once,not twice but more that three times in so much that the former GG threw in the sponge and retired.Then he tried with the replacement and he talk to them in french,a language most of them are familiar with as it is the language of brassbowls and wild boys and that is when they realized that he would have had to come with 15 more rather than the 10 he had.Then to make matters worse he swore to Kaymar that he does not ever want to be primus atall,atall.

  25. Angela, this country and these politicians don’t have many options or solutions, they only pretending to so they can trick the people one more time. One day coming soon Barbados is going to miss a payment and all shite is going to break loose and people are going to realize how quickly this descend into chaos.

  26. We as black people have got to learn to trust and not be goaded and directed by other races who have set traps or us to dig our own graves and eventually fall into them
    We are where we are because we still believe in the theory of divide and conquer , let this be a lesson where we all can learn while serving a helping hand and not a lesson learned where we look to those for help whose help has been for naught

  27. @ Mr. Jeff Cumberbatch

    Mindful of the several statements in your stirring article I again revert to one of its several eye opening sentences where you state

    “…I am aware as any that this reformation will require a shifting of the basic norm of our constitutional ethos.

    This does not come easily, especially since it would require the very authority with the power to alter the existing order to engage in an act of self-destruction.”

    De ole man detects a sentiment among the people of “enough is enough”

    They are crying out for relief from these two political parties and their devils and imps.

    What is going to win this campaign for the Non Partisan THird Element is among many thing, going to be its message

    Do you think that this one below is too harsh and is it consistent with your remarks about a shifting in the basic norm of our constitutional ethos?

  28. As’ s/ACs.., dont yall get tired, the only divide and conquer is when ministers lie to the people, lie to stupid yardfowls and they are believed by stupid yardfowls…

    …..time for yall to pack up and get out the people’s parliament and stop wasting space and the couple dollars of taxpayer’s money left in the treasury…be gone, not even Arthur want to get involved anymore. See for yaself.

  29. @ Mr. Jeff Cumberbatch,

    Again the ole man shoots this volley at your bow confident that you can face the fusillade

    I would respectfully ask you sir if the Stoopid Cartoon Poster that follows meets your standards for “…commit to a renaissance of the Barbadian socio-political compact…”

    In a first for the Caribbean Region, The Third Element, Barbados’ Newest Political Party, pledged 10% of every dollar that it is able to recover from the country’s teifing Ministers of Parliament and a handsome 20% if the Ministers are Locked up post prosecution

    The Amnesty the Third Element offered is to “incentivize any party that may have inadvertently participated in the teifing” and has been extended for one month.

    Already a number of anonymous packages have been delivered to Third Element administrators which contain irrefutable confirmation of the theft.

    Copies of said documents WILL BE BROADCAST IN THE NEWS MEDIA AND CYBERSPACE, post the completion of all criminal proceedings.

    Briefs however will be prepared for the public in a manner not to “compromise the prosecution process”, but to effect transparency throughout the process leading up to the incarceration of the Criminals

  30. Violet Beckles CUP Plantation Deeds from 1926-2017 land tax bills and no Deeds,BLPand DLP Massive land Fruad and PONZI on said:

    We agree , Will need A special Master to judge these fools , we can not trust the local Judges to their Jobs they have not so far in 50 years, The CCJ needs to send a DPP, AG to Barbados and Caribbean Police need to be made up ,

  31. Notorious right wing journalist Katie Hopkins has lost a £24000 libel case for falsely claiming online another journalist has committed a criminal offence.
    Further evidence that you cannot hide on the internet. Good victory for Jack Monroe.

  32. @ Mr. Austin

    And you were doing so well all week heheheheheheheh

    Let us for a brief while entertain your posit about the Anonymice Saga, just briefly.

    (cant take up too much space since I am awaiting feedback from certain peoples for questions and comments outstanding.]

    Let me see how this Denouement of Anonymice will work.

    1.I am a known person who according to my deep “c” fish diver Hants does “posterize” people.

    I am no respecter of persons.

    2.TOmorrow I want to stop with my posterizing and come out of the shadows

    3.Do I just drop the identity of Piece Uh Cock Yeah right (Walter PPK call be dat) and start using my real name which as you might not know is [Hivester Stallone]?

    4.Is it required under your encouragement, and that of Carl Moore, for me to divest myself of my Batman cloak and mask and confirm that I am Hivester?

    5.Cause I want to know if the revelation is to be concurrent with admission of who i was r will you and Carl forget the bygones under your Cyberspace Amnesty programme?

    Now just to complicate things slightly.

    Since neither of the two of you ent got no authority to absolve a feller of his sins so to speak, when Mugabe come into power (May the Almighty Lord Forbid) and she direct her faithful sidekick Dale Teets marshall to close down Barbados Underground ammmmmmm you going come to de ole man rescue?

    dis be why de ole man like de single authentication dat de Blogmaster Insists on

    You does use Solutions Barbados Website?

    Or Naked Departure?

    Dem does demand dat you sign up with a username/email address to get on pun dem site.

    by dual authentication what happens is that the authorization to join is sent to the email that was submitted first (which may be false to begin with)

    Barbados Underground DOES NOT REQUIRE THAT, the say “email required” and that is that.

    Additionally this is not Facebook.

    Now to the right of that same box requesting BU states that the email that one uses to access the site “is never made public”

    pub·lic pəblik/ adjective 1. of or concerning the people as a whole. shared, publicized.

    Now you would be much more familiar with the nuances of this word than I as such relates to UK law where, in addition to that statement there is a clearly stated policy as to what rights obtain for a UK blogger.

    But de ole man would hazard de following

    a.Hivester is logging onto a website in a Virtual Private Network in Romania
    b.Hivester’s IP address is 123.456.78.9
    c.Hypothetically let us say that Hivester calls the Leader of the Opposition an eaterof clitorii
    d.Where has Hivester committed a crime? In his office in Jalapy? in Romania? which does not have any extradition rights with Barbados or in Barbados?

    You wid de ole man Hal?

    You have read the inept Computer Data Act for Barbados?

    But please, doan hesitate to respond cause de ole man waiting pun you ok?

  33. Pingback: The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – Day of the Double Downgrade | Barbados Underground

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