Maximum Leaders, Absolute Power and Democracy

Mia Mottley, Tom Adams, Errol Barrow, Grantley Adams
Submitted by Observing

Barbados has always had a trend for celebrating a “maximum leader.”

We loved Errol Barrow and his accolades. We revered Grantley Adams and then his son Tom. Now we adore Mia Amor. Over and away we have other examples such as Dominica, Grenada and St. Vincent. But, is this trend healthy for a small island democracy?

A look at how events play out under such leaders show that support is consolidated, popularity is increased and machinations are employed to retain power. Decision making goes unopposed or unfettered. Allegations of infelicities disappear into the night. Opposition voices are stifled, or stifle themselves for lack of a persona equal in stature to he/she who leads from on high.

In Barbados, we have seen this leadership reap benefits in some instances. But we have also seen it bring a sense of arrogance, entitlement and a “I can do what I want” mentality. Tinkering with the constitution is now a norm. Double standards are now more open and blatant. Ignoring the “silent majority” is now also a trend, especially when tourist dollars or the macro economic picture is at play.

Similarly and negatively, the Freundel administration also practiced this, albeit, with foolish and arrogant abandon, disregarding the public it served. They ignored advice, plodded along with errant decisions and took the approach that “I am in charge.” 2018 speaks for itself.

But what really does this “maximum leader” bring?
After Tom died Bree took over and the rest is history.
After Barrow died Sandiford took over and the rest is history
After Thompson died Freundel took over and the rest is still an ongoing history

The maximum leader philosophy, rooted in a personality rather than collective progress can be dangerous. Without organs for continuity it gives a temporary illusion of success followed by a period of decline. Without sufficient controls and dissenting voices it gives rise to the Animal Farm mindset. Without an efficient fourth estate, it leads to a false perception of democracy and inclusion, which is really driven by public relations, marketing, psychological manipulation and popularity mining.

Think about it…
Is it truly a functional democracy when a leader can call an election whenever he or she feels like no matter the circumstances?
Is it truly a functional democracy when information is not free, integrity is not legislated and our elected leaders cannot be held to account other than at the ballot box?
Is it truly a democracy when those who control government, also fully control every aspect that regulates oversight and control of that government?
Is it truly a democracy when two-thirds of an electorate stay home leading to a 30-0?

A good democracy demands that government, civil society, labour and capital work together for the good of the people. Recent events have shown that at least three of these organs work together for the good of politics. The partisan divide, the whispers on the street and the frustration and despondency of many are the inevitable result.

We have always asked in this space, will the real leaders please stand up?
If ever there was a time for them, it is now.

318 comments

  • @ DPD
    The PM has no constitutional power to offer the DLP or any party seats in the Senate.
    The PM having the constitutional power to discuss anything with the president is not the problem here.
    Obviously , the matter will be resolved only when ( a )the President makes her two additional choices or (b) the constitution is amended to get the desired change
    My position on the DLP not being given any seats , is highly personal and subjective. I honestly do not believe the taxpayers, should be underwriting its electoral failures.
    Therefore my position remains; I will only support what the constitution allows.
    I firmly believe the PM is to blame for this snafu and that will not change.
    The Constitution must always reign supreme and that’s why it takes a two third majority to change it.
    It was never meant to be taken lightly. I have been a community worker for over six decades. I have seen sports clubs and other community organizations take their constitutions more seriously,
    Peace

    Like

  • @ Donna
    “@ William,
    She needs to be kept in check. I do not dispute that.”
    Not only the PM but all of them , even the independent senators. My position is clear , once the taxpayers are paying I am going to scrutinize you. .Mottley enjoys a very stellar political career- she earned it. A remarkable politician by any measure.
    She has established herself on the global scene ; good for the country; she inherited a very dismal economy and so on and although I am not supportive of IMF, I understand why she did it.
    But, none of this matters to me , when she messes around with the Constitution.
    The struggle continues.
    Peace.

    Like

  • de pedantic Dribbler

    @Skinner, it’s fair to say that over 60% of Bajans agree with you that the DLP are not worthy of a seat in the Senate … no issues there atall.

    And of course the PM must take ultimate responsibility for the snafu… just as all leaders must when things go askew … particularly when their careless actions cause the problems.

    That said I can only perceive that you are stuck on the plain reading of the constitution. If you accept that “having the constitutional power to discuss anything with the president is not the problem here” then clearly – as you go on to suggest – your strong personal biases do not allow u to rationally decide on what is plainly written.

    Fair enough!

    Like

  • @Dee Word

    How can you validate that 60% number?

    Like

  • de pedantic Dribbler

    Well @David if I take 78% (based on 2018 BLP vote) of those who didn’t vote, plus those who actually voted BLP and add in those who could give a damn about the DLP I should be way over 60% of voting population, yah don’t think!

    The DLP got badly rejected TWICE, bro… I was being conservative 🤣🤦🏾‍♂️!

    Like

  • BLP 69% 30
    112,839 voters

    DLP 27% 0
    30,273 voterrs

    Like

  • de pedantic Dribbler

    @Hants … I pulled my numbers from caribbeanelections… the BLP got 72.8% of vote in 2018… DLP 22.1% according to that site. I expect their stats are from the EBC.

    The 78% was a generous rounding of ALL non
    DLP votes … a bit of poetic license but not egregiously so for the guesstimated purposes.

    Like

  • @ DPD
    “ However, you then completely dismiss the also clearly stated dicta in the SAME constitution when it pellucidly gives the PM the ability to do exactly what she did … WHY is that!”
    The Constitution never gave the PM the right to offer Senate seats to the DLP or any other party.
    We cannot possibly be debating the current issue. Perhaps , I have clearly misunderstood you.
    What is really the bone of your contention.?
    My personal opinion or “ biases” in relation to not giving any comfort to the DLP are totally irrelevant.
    I said that I would only support what the Constitution allows.
    The Constitution is very clear and that is why we have this situation. No doubt the issue will be resolved sooner rather than later.
    The section you quoted in reality is a mere accommodation extended by the Constitution, that in itself cannot solve anything.
    I simply don’t understand what you mean by she did what the Constitution allows. I don’t get that part because what she did was not covered by the Constitution otherwise we would not be here.
    Peace

    Like

  • 🐇/🐰
    One thing I would wager on, there will not be a second election in 2022.

    One of the strengths of Mia is that her opponents often underestimate her. Whilst they spend time conjuring up different scenarios, she executes her plan.

    Perhaps, the process for amending the constitution needs fixing as the AG often measures once and cuts twice . The kind of tool a calculating leader needs,

    Like

  • de pedantic Dribbler

    @Skinner, as I noted previously I simply attempted to execute a plain English interpretation of the relevant section of the constitution and I asked u to also simply explain your interpretation of the same section 75 a) and b) to avoid the exact issue of ‘cross talk’ u raised above.

    Thus where you say you “simply don’t understand what you mean by she did what the Constitution allows. […] because what she did was not covered by the Constitution” let me quickly revisit what I previously sought to clarify.

    Allegation: The PM unconstitutionally offered seats to an opposition party who has no current standing in Parliament.

    My reference: That’s political noise. The PM did NO such thing but rather made a recommendation along the lines legally allowed in the constitution where it says inter alia …:

    ”During any period in which there is a vacancy in the office of Leader of the Opposition […] the [President] shall” _
    _a. act in his discretion in the exercise of any function in respect of which it is provided in this Constitution that the [Pres] shall act in accordance with the advice of the Leader of the Opposition; and

    b. act on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in the exercise of any function in respect of which it is provided in this Constitution that the [Pres] shall act on the recommendation of the Prime Minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.

    1.Yes it’s merely an accommodation as you noted
    2.What the PM did was merely to effect that accommodation … she did not and cannot impose her will on the President’s discretionary power… she made a ‘recommendation’ as she is entitled to so do.

    (And everyone is pissed off she had such gall to make that pompous recommendation … still ONLY a recommendation, however)

    Just as you have strong biases she undoubtedly does as well … alas, hers are not as irrelevant as yours because of her significantly greater persuasive power but she still must be willing to abide by the laws …. as you are.

    So again please interpret the plain meaning of the section and advise: does the PM have the legal ability to herself advise or make NON BINDING recommendations to the President in circumstances where a LofO would otherwise have acted. Yes or No???

    We can leave it there because as you suggest this will be resolved and the endless noise will be quickly forgotten for its incredulity!

    Like

  • @Dee Word

    You are wasting time. Political rhetoric is par for the course in this kind of discourse. We have some here who conflate to satisfy narrow interest. Their voices have also become ‘noise’.

    Like

  • @TheOGazertsFebruary 3, 2022 4:44 AM

    Our Supreme Leader is getting the best ideas for transforming society and reshaping the so-called “constitution” on BU for free. Are we not adding fuel to the fire every day and encouraging our Supreme Leader on her way to absolute power?

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ DPD
    Respectfully, I think you are saying recommendation; I am saying offer. When the PM made her statement , she did not mention no Constitution and Atherley saved the day.
    She came back again and then independently minded lawyers ( Patterson, et al) started to question the nonsense.
    The PM never sought no recommendation via the Constitution. You are quite correct to say that she legally or Constitutionally can but the point is she never did.She thanks offered or sought to offer a gift that was not hers to give.
    A recommendation and offer are not the same thing.!
    I therefore conclude that that’s where you and I seem to be.
    Stimulating discussion , as always.
    @ David
    You seem to have a serious problem ,with me because, I refuse to come here and call people JA and RH, while engaged in robust debate. Very sorry to disappoint you and I can’t even promise you that I will try.
    Have a nice day my Brother.
    Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @William

    Relax.

    You have been posting here long enough we know the size of the chip you carry. The blogmaster as always will call it as it is being played out.

    Like

  • Hippy Hooray
    BLP V DLP
    Duopoly is Dead
    R.I.P.

    Maximum Leaders Vs Minimum Leaders
    NO CONTEST
    BLP = Champions

    Like

  • @ David
    “ Like

    David February 3, 2022 8:15 AM

    @William

    “Relax.

    You have been posting here long enough we know the size of the chip you carry. The blogmaster as always will call it as it is being played out.”

    I await full exposure of the chip, that is obviously a very well guarded secret.
    And , as always , chip or no chip, thanks for allowing me to continue contributing to your blog
    I can promise you that I will always express my opposition and support for positions , with the proper decorum;after all , my real name is always attached. That’s all I have brother.
    Peace.

    Like

  • Barbados’ much-touted Welcome Stamp initiative has been ranked number seven in the list of Best Countries to Work From in the Caribbean and South America.

    https://barbadostoday.bb/2022/02/03/welcome-stamp-programme-rated-seventh-in-caribbean-and-south-america/

    Like

  • Pingback: Rihanna BOOM, Kothdiwala BOOM | Barbados Underground

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