Back of the Envelope Musings about Matters of State
Some smart person is reported to have said never let a crisis go to waste. There can be no disagreement the raging COVID 19 pandemic has created a crisis of gargantuan proportion for countries everywhere. Small island states like Barbados will struggle to sustain a standard of living it has become accustomed. The 64k question facing the tiny island- what are we as a people doing to make good on the advice to not allow a good crisis go to waste?
A pillar issue of Barbados Underground from inception of the blog has been to focus on the importance of a governance system that is fit for purpose. In the opinion of this blogmaster when the former prime minister Fruendel Stuart against all advice allowed parliament to dissolve on its own- there was nothing the citizens could do about it. We were helpless has the economy suffered in a lame duck period. The May 24, 2018 election confirmed Stuart’s decision was contrary to the will of the people. He was punished for his error in judgment which some say has set the country AND Democratic Labour Party (DLP) back a millennium.
Stuart’s obstinacy gave insight to how easy it is for an errant leader to expose fault lines in a democracy. The ‘impotence’ of the people to effect change except on Election Day every five years is scary. We pay lip service to the fact Barbados is a democracy, however, the more discerning among us know there a political and professional class who do the bidding of an economic elite who occupy the space at the pointed end of society’s pyramid. It has not gone unnoticed the leader of the free world – the position of president of the USA is promoted as such – by his maverick behaviour continues to add more stress to a Covid 19 infested world.
The average Barbadian may not be aware the Constitution of Barbados gives the Prime Minister of Barbados enormous powers (primus inter pares). During the Covid 19 pandemic we have witnessed imposition of the Emergency Powers Act which adds to the authority of the prime minister to act without consulting parliament. The blogmaster does not suggest for one minute there is evidence of wanton abuse of power by Prime Minister Mottley. The suggestion is that the citizenry of Barbados needs to become more aware by shedding the disinterest it has shown up to now in matters of governance BEFORE we have to react to an unforeseen event.
The recent by-election in St. George North has given rise to a few stark realities. We have a Barbados Labour Party (BLP) led by a politically astute leader who will continue to outmaneuver her opponents until she is bored with it. While this makes for good theatre it should provoke citizens to be concerned about the robustness of our governance system. As we continue to manage our affairs in a Covid 19 period agitation for change to ensure a relevant governance system will be required.