12 Days to Go…it is the Governance Model Stupid
Twelve days before E-Day and the blogmaster anticipates the political temperature measuring the nasty will increase.
A noticeable feature of the campaign so far has been an ‘attempt’ by all the political parties to discuss issues. The DLP strategists have a right to determine the approach to win the general election. The plan to attack Mia Mottley we will see how the electorate responds. Overall the quality of debate coming from the political platforms has been poor.
As a keen observer of local affairs, it has become patently obvious the political class has been attracting individuals whose main reason for entering public life is to earn a salary and benefit from the influence and largess the political office will deliver for personal gain. Listen to the contributions being delivered by many of the candidates on the campaign trail and the intellectual capacity of many comes into question. The observation is not to suggest political candidates aspiring to public life must be MBA trained. What the blogmaster wants to see is a healthy mix of individuals who aspire to political office who are intellectually strong AND driven by by an unswerving desire to serve the public. The quality of wanting to serve the public is important because it will bring integrity to public office and ensure the political class- an important stakeholder in civil society- can lead by example.
Given the declining state of the economy, physical infrastructure, decline in the social fabric and so on the blogmaster anticipated the quality level of the political debate would be off the dial. Instead we have had to listen to a rehash of conversations past. We do not have the maturity to conduct national debates between the political candidates and parties. It is noticeable that a leading media house has created a forum for the parties to share their message with the electorate, for free, and the DLP has refused to participate. With two weeks to go the DLP has not shared its plans with the people to ensure there is a thorough discussion to inform final selection. The focus is on the politicking to inform strategy at the expense of ventilating the issues affecting the people and what is good to sustain success of a tiny island.
One useful discussion item that has emerged from the 2018 political campaign is the behaviour of political candidates. We have had to listen to David ‘pitbull’ Estwick calling the lord’s name on the platform. Steve Blackett calling Mia musty and so on. Donville Inniss and Stephen Lashley have been quick to defend the party position as groupthink in local party politics demands. Is this the political theatrics we want to encourage on the Barbados political scene? Do we not anticipate where promoting party colours will land us in the near future?
When the dust settles we have to admit the behaviour of political candidates will ultimate be determined by what the public demands. Auditor General reports, questionable decisions by the Director of Public Prosecutions, dysfunctional working committees of parliament have confirmed the inability of the public to hold the feet of pubic officials to the fire. It stands to reason we have a scenario playing out in Barbados where the tail is wagging the dog if we are to appreciate the workings of how our system of government should work.
We have had public officials refusing to attend sittings of the Public Accounts Committee and those who attended feeling no fear of discipline by giving muddy answers. There has been the case of a member of parliament brandishing a gun within the precinct of parliament, a Speaker of the House ordered by a justice of the High Court to repay a wheelchair bound septuagenarian his funds. The political class it is safe to conclude by the lack of urgency to advocate against matters mentioned and others are prepared to betray the basic tenets required of a public servant.
Another aspect of the landscape is the access to an abundance of cash by political parties to spread the ‘message’ in the silly season. It clearly points to what is known and that is all political parties have masters they must serve. We continue to fool ourselves that the bastardized model of the Westminster System inherited from a colonial past is relevant. It bears repeating, several layers within a Westminster System must cohesively function to deliver as originally designed. So far on the campaign trail we have listened to a tinkering of the issues located on the fringe, with 12 days to go who knows what the morrow will bring.