Mia Mottley out-strategized all comers to win the recent general election by inflicting another 30-0 drubbing on a hapless Democratic Labour Party (DLP). The win is all the more incredible because it was achieved after a 3-year period of unprecedented economic challenges caused primarily by the ongoing pandemic AND the brought forward state of a weak economy.
Besides the chatter about the capacity of the DLP to reinvent itself to be seen as a legitimate choice of a government in waiting, the more immediate expectation is the shape of the new Cabinet and appointments to the Senate expected to be communicated this week. Prime Minister Mottley has signaled among other priorities this second tenure will focused on continuing transformative pursuits to improve how the country does its business.
In 2018 Mottley appointed 26 ministers with several parliamentary secretaries and consultants bolted on. That decision continues to evoke robust discussion pertaining to the insensitivity of the decision given the weak state of the economy. Mottley’s justification was that the perilous state of the economy and the workload required to rebuild the economy justified her decision. Her explanation was summed up in the phrase – many hands make light work. The blogmaster admits the mandate delivered last week probably had little to do with a large cabinet and more to do with a favourable perception of Mottley as leader of government at this time by voters compared to the alternatives on show.
Political pundits argue Mottley had the difficult job of managing 30 members of parliament coupled with executing government business efficiently. It explains her contentious decision to have appointed 26 members to the 2018 Cabinet. This time around it will be interesting to observe if she repeats the decision- no doubt with the Kingmaker’s blessing- to reappoint a large Cabinet.
Political morality requires Mottley to think carefully about the optics of of another bloated Cabinet to satisfy political expediency at a time many Barbadians are suffering. Mottley is aware of the hospitality sector where employees in the thousands were sent home or suffered reduced pay, middleclass and senior citizens who had to suffer deep haircuts to nest egg investments as a result of the debt restructure and generally a workforce that continues suffer because of significant contraction in the economy are the key considerations. An important trait of a good leader is to make decisions to demonstrate empathy.