The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – What was the week that was…

Nelson statue on Broad Street defaced on the eve of Independence Day.

Some of my more literate readers will recognize that I have borrowed the title of today’s column from the BBC comedy show of the 1960’s that satirized the week’s developments and news stories. I do not at all possess the satirical or comedic talents of the BBC’s scriptwriters, but some events of last week do merit further exposition. Moreover, with the radio talk shows on a self-enforced break so as to take advantage of the lucrative pre-Christmas commercial offerings, I suppose that people will do a lot more reading of the newspapers and the blogs to keep themselves abreast of local current affairs.

One of the highlights of the week was the public anticipation of the decision of the Fair Trading Commission [FTC] on the legal validity of the SOL/BNTCL merger as proposed. Since I currently have the honour of chairing that institution, I paid especial attention to the populist public discourse on the matter. What struck me most about that phenomenon was the seeming consensus among those who aired their views publicly that the merger should not eventuate into approval by the FTC.

So much so that when one newspaper suggested, even before the decision was published, that the sale had been approved, it provoked comments that I consider defamatory of myself from one source, clearly without the slightest clue as to the law relating to fair competition, that “integrity needed to be returned to the Commission” while making mention of the last two years, the period that coincides precisely with my tenure as Chairman. I have accordingly referred the matter to my legal advisors and will say no more on that for now. His was clearly a purely partisan view, based wholly on the perceived sentiments of those to with which he may be politically aligned.

There seems for some reason to have been a general public anticipation that the sale would be approved or maybe it was the case that there had been some misleading leak of the Commission’s deliberations, since another section of the press, not the Barbados Advocate, also boldly suggested in its Tuesday edition that the “FTC [was] set to okay the BNTCL sale.” On the subsequent publication of the decision to the contrary, that section of the press, to my best recollection, did not even deign to concede the inaccuracy of its Tuesday item. Ah, well.

It is clear, and perhaps understandable, that some members of the public perceived the issue as a partisan political matter. If approved, a victory for the DLP, if not approved, a regrettable loss. This is indeed a pity, but par for the course in Barbados, especially at the current time when much is viewed through partisan lens. I am pleased to relate that both the technical staff involved and the members of the Board of the Commission dealt with the matter judiciously as one of applying the relevant law and economic theory of fair competition to the proposed agreement between the parties and took all relevant admissible evidence into account.

A work of art

Another divisive event that took place during the week was the re-decoration (I put it no higher or lower than that) on the eve of the observance of our 51st anniversary of Independence of the statue of Lord Nelson in Heroes’ Square in the national colours. It seems clear that the occasion was chosen with some care, to highlight no doubt, the incongruity of the substance of the next day’s celebration with the prominence of the Nelson statue in the equivalent of the national pantheon.

In this context, public reaction again varied, though not necessarily on partisan political lines this time. Rather, it lay in the unstated but nearly palpable distinction among those who wondered how we would appear to others if we were to permit the destruction of national monuments with impunity and who therefore appealed for condign punishment for the culprit(s); those who view Nelson as some totem of the whitish Barbadian and for whom his removal would be anathema; those who consider the statue to be a blot on our current national ethos undeserving of such geographical prominence; and perhaps those who do not consider the current placement of the statue to be even worthy of contemporary discussion.

Officialdom, of course acutely sensitive to the majority public opinion at this time, came down safely on the side of law and order and cowered under the promise of a national conversation on the matter; as if these ever result in anything other than an intermittent resumption of the debate every six months or more. Whither, one may ask, the “national debate” on formal constitutional republican status for Barbados? Whither the “national debate” on the execution of the death penalty? Whither the national debate on corporal punishment in schools?” All kicked down the road until the next time with a promise of an imminent national discourse. Given our cultural penchant for talking over doing however, [with of course the exception of the Nelson decorator(s)], it may be just as well.

Of course, the apt democratic mode of resolution would be to refer the matter to a plebiscite but, given the unpredictability of these and the natural fear of a governing administration to have any substantive indication of being out of step with its electorate, this seems most unlikely.

As if this were not sufficiently heady, a local historian managed to introduce another intriguing angle to the entire debate. According to Dr Karl Watson or, at least, the newspaper headline, “Nelson was not pro-slavery”, a proposition not at all proven in the text of the published article that appears to suggest rather that the Admiral acted merely as a tax collector on the island for the British government and points to no utterance of his or other evidence that might support the assertion in the headline. More debate is expected.

228 thoughts on “The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – What was the week that was…

  1. Ok, so we agree that America and Barbados were both founded on the Bible and were both experiments by Christians in the practice of Christianity.

    Let’s take Richard Drayton’s use of the term “White Supremacy” or “White Supremacist” and substitute them by Christianity and Christian because the first Christians in America and Barbados were white.

    Richard Drayton thus says

    A. “A placard headed “Nelson Will Fall” placed in front the plinth declared: “This RACIST CHRISTIAN who would rather die than see black people free stands proudly in our nation’s capital NELSON MUST GO!! Fear not Barbados the people have spoken. Politicians have failed us. HAPPY INDEPENCE [sic erat scriptum]”.

    sic erat scriptum is latin if I remember right for “The ffing idiots can’t even spell independence”!!

    B. “That is not to say that he was not politically pro-slavery, which in our translation would be that he certainly took CHRISTIANITY as a natural order to be defended”

    C. “This then produced a response from black Barbadians that this, as per some of the white United States conservative mobilisation of the idea of “Irish slaves”, involved a denial of the history of CHRISTIANITY and its impact on unequal wealth and family experience into the 20th century”

    Richard Drayton is thus reporting on what other’s say!!

    Let’s see now what Hilary Beckles says and do the same substitutions!!

  2. RE No one has to believe anything anyone posts anymore…they are free to check the information point out inaccuracies and outright lies AND THEY CAN SUBSTITUTE WHAT EVER THEY WANT TO ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN BIAS, AS WHEN ONE LOOK AT THOSE ILLUSORY PICTURES.

  3. Hilary Beckles in his article of 12th September 2017 uses the term.

    If substituted here is what he is saying:

    “The facts speak for themselves. Nelson, the naval warlord of the British empire by his political decisions, military actions and public speeches, was a vile, racist, CHRISTIAN;”

    His basic premise is fatally flawed!!

    Here it is:

    “GENERALLY, NATIONS SUCH as Barbados that claim ideological roots in the democratic struggles of the working class have opposed publicly revering persons known to have committed crimes against humanity, and those who have assisted them.”

    Barbados, like America, has its idealogical roots in the BIBLE.

    Simple historical fact which even he can’t dispute!!

  4. GP…the days of brainwashing and mindwashing people are over, everyone is free to access the FACTS and TRUTH…..or believe whatever rubbish someone else is spewing.

    I go for facts and truth, to each his own…frredom of choice.

  5. “Make America great again”

    This slogan earned Trump the Presidency.

    Let’s put it another way:

    “Return to core values”

    What are the core values of America, and Barbados?

    They are essentially based on the Bible!!

    White Supremacist/White Supremacy are terms which gained recent currency in America.

    They are directed at Trump and his supporters.

    But, there are very few white supremacists, with no power whatsoever.

    Can’t elect a president.

    However, Christians can!!

    They have immense power and numbers.

    So, they become a target.

    But …. they can take it, no sweat!!

    … and they won’t respond in kind!!

  6. I could never understand why some people put so much faith in a book of myth, lies and fairy tales, as well as using it to justify the evil deeds of their ancestors which they now seek to perpetuate.

  7. Can you imagine that the people who want to use Independence by vandalizing a public monument can’t even spell INDEPENDENCE?

    I predict soon we will hear that it was a bunch of white boys trying to make black people look foolish!!

  8. Still working on brainwashing the masses of asses,, of which there are plenty, no shortage of those.

    But…the scam is dying.,, the young people are not interested in rubbish, they live in the 21st century world of reality.

  9. Barbados, like America, has its idealogical roots in the BIBLE.
    What an idiotic statement.

    The ONLY thing that these two countries have in common WRT idealogical roots is that those roots were planted by inhuman white people who enslaved and basically exterminated the Indians in America, and ONLY failed to do likewise in Barbados (and South Africa) because Blacks are so resilient that we would probably survive in Hell itself – and some of us would come to sing praises to Satan… Vincent for sure… 🙂

    Just because some idiot MISuses the Bible to justify his WICKED inhumanity does NOT make the bible any root of any shiite society….
    The demons ALSO misused the whips, the chains, the military, the act of rape, the trees – for lynchings etc…. Were THEY also part of our ‘idealogical roots’…?

    Bushie still trying to find out exactly what KIND of scholar John was…..

  10. Barbados, like America, has its idealogical roots in the BIBLE.

    Utter garbage, but Barbados and America do have the same ideological roots, and they was crafted right here on the rock: the Barbados Slave Code of 1651.

  11. Scholar my ass, why am I not surprised is John uttered those lies…ah bet he had the numbnuts who agreed with him too…lol

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