Difficult Conversations – Jumping Ship
Political parties are competitive organisations. They compete against each-other for the limited votes during elections. Individuals cannot join any political party they wish. They must apply for membership, and the party then decides whether to accept them or not.
Party members who become part of a party’s leadership, are trusted with the party’s confidential strategies for the next general election. For that reason, those persons owe that party their loyalty until the end of the next general election. By that time, the strategies would have been implemented.
If such trusted persons want to leave their party between general elections, then they may. However, it seems highly unethical for them to take their former party’s election strategies to a competing party, before the general election. If they want to compete, then they may do so as independent candidates until after the next general election.
There are politicians who wish that politics were an honourable profession. However, professions have ethical standards. Persons can look in vain for ethical or decent behaviour at the political platforms of the established parties, during a general election.
Politics in Barbados is not at gutter level, but sewer. After behaving in a most despicable manner during the competition of a general election, elected politicians are ironically rewarded with ceremonial titles of honourable.
This can explain why our politicians can stop people from earning for months, on penalty of fines and imprisonment. Then claim that we are all in this together, while they continue to receive their full salaries. With a ceremonial title and a full salary, there simply is no incentive for them to improve.
Once the results of a general election are known, unsuccessful candidates may decide whether they wish to: continue with the same party, join a competing political team, compete as an independent, or leave elective politics.
Political parties should develop ethical standards that refuse membership to senior members (including candidates) of competing parties between general elections. That small act may demonstrate some newfound political integrity, and an intent to climb out of the sewer.
To introduce some ethics in Barbados’ political system, political parties would need to agree not to accept politicians who ‘jump ship’ between general elections.