The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – A Barbadian Miscellany II

Last Monday’s delivery of the so-called “mini-Budget” by the Honourable Prime Minister and Minister of Finance & Economic Affairs has served to shift, ever so subtly, the national discourse from the analysis and interpretation of constitutional provision to that of the optimal recourse out of the economic morass in which we have found ourselves.

Now relegated to the pages of our constitutional history are issues, some left unanswered, such as whether the Prime Minister solely possesses the constitutional authority to choose the date for a general election even if Parliament has been dissolved by the effluxion of time rather than on his or her advice; whether the Constitution contemplates a prolonged parliamentary interregnum between dissolution and the general election wherein the Cabinet is responsible to no other entity; who is empowered to nominate the two opposition senators should one party win all the seats in the Lower House; whether a single member of parliament claiming not to support the government may be validly appointed leader of the Opposition; and whether an incomplete house of Parliament may legitimately pass legislation of any kind. I have written on all of these in the past weeks.

In their stead now arise matters such as the fiscal prudence of imposing additional financial obligations on the tourist trade in a destination already rated as one of the more expensive globally; the genuineness of collective bargaining by the public sector workers’ organizations that initially proposed surreal 15 and 23 per centum wage hikes to their employer and then settled ultimately for 5 per cent only from the same employer, though comprising different personalities; the fiscal responsibility of a blanket removal of all tuition fees for Barbadian students at UWI without regard to their individual abilities to cope; and the combined effect of the removal of the national social responsibility levy [NSRL] with the varied slew of taxes freshly imposed.

Of course, any public disenchantment with these matters will be suffused by the patent popularity of the new administration during its current honeymoon period. In addition, this new administration, heirs to a degree of political capital that contrasts starkly with the low level of civic trust enjoyed by the one outgone in its latter days, has astutely availed itself of this goodwill to depict the new fiscal initiatives as an opportunity for patriotic Barbadians unselfishly to wrap themselves in the flag and proudly to perceive themselves as being fully participatory in any recovery that might inure. A veritable political masterstroke.

Hence, rather than the populace categorizing these initiatives as bothersome and trying, the Barbados Labour Party and its supporters, who appear now to control the tenor of public discourse, have succeeded in portraying them rather as merely trifling inconveniences in a creative recovery programme necessitated by the allegedly dubious infelicities of the previous Democratic Labour Party administration.

To such an extent that a press conference called by three former Cabinet Ministers and a Senator in the DLP government seems to have been greeted not with any acclaim but, rather, with popular dismay at the effrontery of the members of an administration recently rejected (to a candidate), and principally so on the basis of perceived financial mismanagement, publicly criticizing negatively an attempt by a “nationally embraced” administration to “put things right economically”. To judge from popular reaction in some quarters, this partisan analysis on their part appears to have fallen flat in a polity seemingly still resentful of their party’s mode of governance.

Of course, it is not that simple, however. The DLP, whether as a collective body, a group, or as individuals, are as entitled as any other person or persons to comment critically on matters of official economic policy. To seek to deny them this right or to impose prior restraints thereupon would scarcely comport with our accepted traditions of democracy.

I recall that immediately after the similarly categorical defeat of the party by the BLP in 2003, the then leader, the late Mr. David Thompson (as he then was), convened a group of individuals to analyze the main reasons for such a devastating rejection. It is clear that the party must eventually adopt a similar course on this occasion, even though these may be early days yet. Given the degree of electoral rejection, some inconvenient truths will no doubt have to be told. It seems to me that there must be an acceptance that the disaffection felt for the government of the day pervaded the entire party and hence caused even promising talented newcomers to suffer defeat as a result.

From the ashes of this debacle, the DLP must seek, as does the fabled phoenix, to rise again so as to be a politically relevant force in our nation. Our democracy demands no less.

A common entrance?
On an entirely different topic, I queried of some colleagues recently why the publication results of the annual Common Entrance becomes a national spectacle with Ministry officials solemnly announcing a list of the top ten performers in a test for eleven year olds in basic English, Composition and Mathematics. I mean, we recently awarded a number of first class degrees in law, a discipline aspired to by some of the younger star pupils and there was no equal publicity. It does seems somewhat incongruous for there to be such a charivari surrounding the common entrance results, where the acclaimed top ten performers are earmarked for two or three schools only, and then gravely to iterate the myth, “We need to cultivate in the minds of the people that there are no top schools or bottom schools, but that all schools are equal…” Yeah, right!

A blessed Fathers’ Day to all!

94 comments

  • Barbados must be one of the few places in the world where heads of government, well supported by the taxpayers, and with significant tax funded domestic help still choose to live apart from their own minor children.

    Like

  • Are our children important?

    Or do we still see OUR OWN CHILDREN as lil’ pickney in massa’s nigger yard?

    Like

  • Bernard Codrington

    @ Simple Simon

    @ Jeff

    I agree with both of you that the interests of parents whether single or not is the key to the academic success of children in the Common Entrance exams,. Very often the child is ready to learn but he/she gets no support from his parents. Too many of them go to school with no breakfast and no books.
    These same parents expect the teachers to work miracles.

    Like

  • Single parent here. Since I was 14, I have been parenting. In my late 20’s my own children, but from age 14 other people’s children. Ask yourself why would a 14 year old have to supervise the homework of 8, 10, 12 year olds when the parent (s) of the children are alive, well, working, but has made a decision to cease parenting?

    That is indeed a very sad question to ask, Maybe the answer will be more saddening.

    I will try to answer it this way. Humans get tired. They become fatalistic. They don’t see the outcome as being rosy. Promises made promises broken. A whole slew of things can get u down. Drugs alcohol and other addiction serve to pull u deeper into a hole that only u can pull yourself out of. But do u really want to leave the comfort of your hole?

    Mental illness is often described and diagnosed by the unprofessionals as someone being lazy and acting in anti social and and in anti-societal ways. Many out there need help; but don’t know they are ill or prefer to be called lazy etc than be seeing a medical attn; that they may or may not be able to afford. The madhouse is bajan society is not a holiday resort. No one wants to go there.

    Unfortunately; these citizens have children of all ages, and they suffer because of the parents neglect. Mental illnesses are more wide spread than we may to acknowledge. Many go undiagnosed.

    Like

  • Sir Fuzzy

    The legacy of Barbadian politics of the last 15 years (and including those now in authority) will be the widespread sad characterization of many simple Barbadians as described in your 4:57 p.m. post.

    Like

  • Fuh true?…. fuh real?

    ” But while the Chief Justice was unsure about whether the new provision in the Evidence Act had in fact been proclaimed, Pilgrim told the media on the sidelines that police were aware of the change and electronic recording was being done since December.

    He said: “The days of moving through without confession evidence being electronically recorded are now over. That is the effect of the law effective December 11.”

    Like

  • Jeff must be embarrassed that this proviso in the law was activated since last year and the CJ expressed publicly that he was blissfully unaware.

    Like

  • Why are we attacking parents? The one remarkable thing about parents of past generations is that although they themselves were of limited education, they knew instinctively that education was the way out.
    They outsourced that responsibility, a singular outstanding decision, to teachers and the teachers responded. Those were the days before parents beat up teachers.
    Parents sent their kids to ‘lessons’, teachers offering private tuition after school and at weekends. Schools also assessed their pupils. At St Giles, the best school of its kind in the country during the 40s, 50s and 60s, people such as J.O. Morris, Atherley and others offered a kind of class-room management and tuition hardly matched today.
    If parents have the skills and knowledge to help their children with their homework, that is fine, but that is not a key parental responsibility. Good parenting is to know when help is needed and getting that help.
    Santia Bradshaw, one of the outstanding young politicians in the government, has a huge task at hand. She must not hesitate in carrying out a widespread reform of the educational system.

    Like

  • pieceuhderockyeahright

    Do you think that Andrew Pilgrim QC can get the police to retroactively review their evidence concerning the interrogation and subsequent arrest of Nazzim Blackett for 6 months this past DECEMBER 2017?

    This is the same young man they held previously.

    Just in case you forgot one of their usual Mugabe style apprehensions, this the same young man, OTHER OF THE POOR BLACK BAJANS WHO WHEN YOU POOR DE RBPF does do what dem like to you.

    DEM HAD TRY TO KILL HE in 2017

    Ironically Nazzim, who is now lock up for months to mek an example of he, was Andrew Pilgrim’s client as well

    Like

  • Jeff Cumberbatch

    Jeff must be embarrassed that this proviso in the law was activated since last year and the CJ expressed publicly that he was blissfully unaware.

    David, the proclamation would have been published in the Official Gazette. Perhaps Sir Marston missed it. The media should publish these things in the public interest however.

    Like

  • Enuff (3.35)

    Spot on. But it is very difficult to get this over to some Bajans. Same thing with accounts and other vocational courses. Because you have a degree does not mean you are a historian.

    Like

  • @pieceuhderockyeahright June 19, 2018 2:36 PM “OTHER OF THE POOR BLACK BAJANS WHO WHEN YOU POOR DE RBPF does do what dem like to you.”

    But aren’t most of the police poor and black also.

    Some people, not me, might even ask if not so poor as not to have a po’ to piss in nor a window to throw it through?

    Like

  • @David June 19, 2018 1:02 PM “Jeff must be embarrassed that this proviso in the law was activated since last year and the CJ expressed publicly that he was blissfully unaware.”

    Why should Jeff be embarrassed?

    I don’t see where Jeff has done anything wrong.

    Isn’t it the Chief Justice’s responsibility to keep himself up to date?

    Jeff must do hand holding?

    Stupseee!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Media Invitation

    Official opening – Bayview Hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

    Bayview Hospital invites your media house to attend the official opening of our new Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The new two-bed ICU will support doctors to perform more complex surgeries onsite and allow for the provision of 24-hour care by an experienced intensive care doctor for any patient warded in the Bayview ICU.

    Date: Friday 29th June, 2018

    Time: 3pm

    Venue: Bayview Hospital, St. Paul’s Avenue, Beckles Road, St. Michael.

    Overview:

    The Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel, the Honorable, Jeffrey D. Bostic MVO MP will deliver the feature address to attendees and officially declare the new ICU open.

    There will be a blessing of the facility by Father Paul, as well as opening remarks by Hospital Administrator Jules Reid and a vote of thanks by Assistant Hospital Administrator Major Marilyn Patrick. Guided tours of the new ICU will also be conducted for invitees.

    More information:

    Amy Goulding, PR Consultant

    +1 (246) 820 8695, +1 (246) 844 8273

    Like

  • William Skinner

    @ Hal
    ” At St Giles, the best school of its kind in the country during the 40s, 50s and 60s, people such as J.O. Morris, Atherley and others offered a kind of class-room management and tuition hardly matched today.”

    Obviously you have never heard about Bay Street/Bay Primary. We have the distinction of producing Sir. Garry Sobers, the greatest West Indian to date. The only one, in his chosen field, whose skills have never been surpassed.

    You are forgiven for this glaring blunder. LOL.

    Like

  • I see that angry and twisted woman Cuffy-Sargeant is now calling a complainant a ‘victim’. I am sure someone can explain to this woman that the idea of a criminal trial is to find out if the complainant is really a victim. With a distorted sense of justice, I would not be surprised to hear that she sends more people to Dodds than the other magistrates combined. What are the qualifications to be a magistrate, other than a bit of paper saying you are a lawyer?

    Like

  • “iam Skinner June 21, 2018 8:23 AM

    @ Hal
    ” At St Giles, the best school of its kind in the country during the 40s, 50s and 60s, people such as J.O. Morris, Atherley and others offered a kind of class-room management and tuition hardly matched today.”

    Obviously you have never heard about Bay Street/Bay Primary. We have the distinction of producing Sir. Garry Sobers, the greatest West Indian to date. The only one, in his chosen field, whose skills have never been surpassed.

    You are forgiven for this glaring blunder. LOL.”

    I am proud to have completed my elementary schooling at Baystreet/Bay Primary and am also proud of the achievments of Sir Garry who attended Bay Street and of the greatman personally for the way he has conducted himself throughout his life having never lost the common touch despite the accolades he has received. I am also proud of those other persons of renown who attended the school such as Mr Rose (artist and musician) and his son Erskine of Selby, Rose and Mapp fame;
    Mr Maurice Drakes Artist and tailor of distinction; Mr Hubert Brathwaithe Artist and painter of distintion,;Mr Robin Garnes of Basketball fame whose contribution to the Police Girls and Boys club is unmatched. and they are many more of distinction who would have benefited from the tutelage of Headmasters Cuffley and Lorde in my time.

    Like

  • charles skeete June 29, 2018 10:49 AM

    RE Obviously you have never heard about Bay Street/Bay Primary.
    OBVIOUSLY HE HAS NOT!
    TOO YOUNG TO HAVE MET MR CUFFLEY BUT HEARD ABOUT HIM
    S O. LORDE IN 1958 PREDICTED THAT I WOULD WIN A BARBADOS SCHOLARSHIP
    UNLIKE YOU, I COMPLETED MY PRIMARY EDUCATION AT ST LAURENCE

    Like

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