The matter covered by Barbados Underground for more than a decade between Sir Richard ‘Johnny’ Cheltenham versus Everton Cumberbatch continues to play on the civic minded among us- see BU Archives. The blogmaster has a problem with a very senior lawyer AND elder of the governing Barbados Labour Party (BLP) continuing to be selected for important national appointments while a serious complaint is pending with the Disciplinary Committee (DC). It is instructive to note the DC is blocked from doing its work- if it had any intention of doing so- because Cheltenham has been granted an injunction pending the completion of an application of a judicial review as reported in the Nation as follows:Continue reading
Category Archives: Barbados Labour Party
A poor choice: A do nothing group or a walk back group?
Submitted by Observing
Between 2013 and 2018 the accusation was correctly leveled at the then government that they were not doing enough, not saying enough, not taking decisive action. We felt the impact and the results of the 2018 election sent the message loud and clear.
Fast forward to 2023, with two 30-0’s behind us and what do we have?
Apparently a “walk back” and “kite flying” government instead. Take a moment to look at some of the “bold policies” that had to be put on pause, “walked back” or caused confusion.
1. Breathalyser Test (still outstanding)
2. Child Protection Act (More input now needed according to the Minister)
3. Two Deputy Commissioners of police (law had to be changed)
4. Education reform (nobody knows!)
5. National Republic Day (the people spoke)
6. Integrity Legislation (where is it?)
7. Speightstown traffic changes (common sense prevailed)
8. Public Service Contracts (we now have a Hollywood civil service)
9. Covd-era restrictions
and the list can go on.
Politicians Doing what they do best – Liaison Officers to be hired for Government Backbenchers
The gap in our system of governance which resulted in the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) winning two consecutive general elections continues to expose inadequacies. More and more important pieces of legislation and information contained in Bills is being discussed in a relevant manner from the Upper Chamber. The latest is Senator Monique Taitt sharing concerns about the plan by government to appoint liaison officers for backbenchers.
The reason for the liaison officers explained by deputy Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw is to address the high demand from constituents – to quote Bradshaw, “It’s necessary because we have 30 MOs and the ministers are entitled to personal assistants and constituency assistants…when you have 16 or 18 seats, the volume of work is not the same, but in an environment with 30 seats, everyone is coming for them and they don’t have any support system. This will allow them to function better”.
In today’s (29/03/2023) Nation newspaper MP Marsha Caddle was allowed a 1-page spread to defend the decision to create the post of liaison officer for backbenchers. It was a very well articulated defense of government’s decision the blogmaster admits and under normal circumstances would command the support of the blogmaster.Continue reading
Just beyond your imagination?
Submitted by Paula Sealy
In his column in the 14 April 2017 edition of the Daily Nation column, Clyde Mascoll begins paragraph 6 as follows: “The tax policy of the Government is a perfect example of arbitrariness.”
The fiscal policy decision to raise VAT from 15% to 17.5% has been maintained despite the BLP 2018 manifesto ‘pledge’ on page to return VAT to 15% within 18 months. The 25% withholding tax on Registered Retirement Saving Plans (RRSP) has been retained and Mascoll has also been retained in a prominent role as an economic advisor in the Mottley administration.
See Related: VAT Online Transactions
Now Barbadians feel the weight of the fuel tax at the pump, the Garbage and Sewage Contribution (GSC) whether or not their homes are connected to the sewage system, the Amazon tax and the online tax on foreign currency transactions. Is there any difference between being assaulted by thugs in red or thugs in blue?
Assault is assault even if you are colour blind.
After Mia, who?
The late Errol Walton Barrow died in 1987, 36 years later the political party he founded, one of two main parties that have dominated the political landscape- the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), continues the struggle to ‘find’ itself. On the other side of the political fence the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is led by the personage of Mia Mottley whose style has endeared her to the local and international community.
There is the suggestion Prime Minister Mia Mottley will elect not to offer herself as a candidate in the next general election. Political pundits again suggest that were this to occur the BLP will likely find itself in a similar state to compare to the DLP. From where the blogmaster is perched there is no obvious successor to Mottley. Some say Santia Bradshaw is being groomed, others are of the mind leaders emerge, a lazy premise if the blogmaster were to opine.
Who is the BLP leader in waiting?
MIA what is this about?
I Forgive You
I normally take my best advice. Therefore, I wish to publicly forgive those whom I have publicly criticised for doing me harm.
I forgive the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration for confiscating part of my retirement savings and pension, changing the laws of Barbados to make that theft legal, and not allowing me to access all the remainder of my retirement savings until the year 2033.
I forgive the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration for what the BLP called “the lost decade”. During seven years of that decade, I was not allowed to tender on construction projects in Barbados because of their corrupting procurement policy.
I forgive our politically partisan professionals. They include: economists, accountants, lawyers, journalists, and political scientists who criticised behaviour when it was done by the political party they did not support, and praised the same behaviour when it was done by their preferred political party.
I forgive our established media, who work with their political party to suppress the voices of credible Barbadians, so that the media’s audience is mainly informed about the views of the media’s political party.Continue reading
Minister of Education McConney Survives Cabinet Reshuffle
The latest in the world of local politics has been the announcement by Prime Minister Mottley of a Cabinet reshuffle that includes the deployment of MP for the City Corey Layne to the Attorney General’s office. Minister of Education Kay McConney continues to enjoy the confidence of the Prime Minister at a time there is public dissatisfaction directed at the Ministry of Education over the IDB Survey.
Before the news of the reshuffle the blogmaster intended to share a thought about the political chaos unfolding in the UK. Particularly the fact members of the cabinet and prime ministers have been routinely resigning. The UK will have 5 prime ministers in a 6 year period with the recent resignation of the Prime Minister Liz Truss holding that office for 44 days.Continue reading
Politicians Make Promises and Tell Lies
From time to time the blogmaster retrieves the various manifestos shared over the years by the two main political parties in Barbados and it makes for interesting reflection. It is obvious the objective by the BLP and DLP is to baffle a gullible electorate. Have a read if you are a doubting Thomas – http://www.caribbeanelections.com/eDocs/manifestos/bb/blp_manifesto_2018.pdf.
The blogmaster was drawn page 30 of the BLP manifesto titled Rebuilding the Economy, Financing National transformation. Notwithstanding the country had to battle the Covid 19 pandemic for the last 3 years there is a view that with an unprecedented large Cabinet the government should have made more progress implementing several of the promises made in the 2018 manifesto.
Last week the government received a donation of personal equipment supplies and Minister of Health (former chairman of the controversial NIS) took the opportunity to remind Barbadians so far, fighting the pandemic has costed government about 100 million dollars. The ministry of health should be congratulated for being transparent and efficient to share the cost with the public. We will wait to have the number validated by the Auditor General.
While congratulating the Minister of Health for being able to share the cost to fight the pandemic so far – why should we be congratulating for this anyway – the public has seen roadblocks to ascertain the cost of the Barbados Digital ID Project. It is ironic that Minister of Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology Davidson Ishmael has been unable to share projected and or actual cost given the type of ministry he is responsible. It is too much of a big pill for the public to swallow he has no idea the cost of the project. He was quoted in the press as saying – “I am going to provide the public with the costs related to this project very soon. The thing is, we have the information relative to the cost [but] that information is spread across many financial years, many different components, many different agencies, departments and ministries”.
The blogmaster understands the ID project has had several iterations across financial years straddling BOTH administrations. Is Minister Ishmael saying that at minimum he is unable to share cost incurred under his BLP government with the caveat information will come at a later date regarding prior years expense? It is the height of arrogance by the minister and flies in the face of this government’s pledge to be transparent. Is this another case of public servants messing up the bookkeeping by being complicit with politicians in the award of contracts to private sector players?
In today’s Nation the editor in chief Carol Martindale calls out government ministers for not returning calls to journalists pursuing information in the public’s interest. Again a read of the 2018 BLP Manifesto promised a government committed to being transparent. In reality, it is about making promises to win votes from a gullible public, or shall we say damn lies. Is the proclamation of Integrity and Freedom of Information legislation still a promise?
We have a Ministry of Health quick to toss around a 100 million dollar price tag for propaganda purposes, BUT, in a another ministry there is a veil of confusion about how tax payers dollars have been allocated to the Barbados ID project. Why do we have annual Estimates debates and Appropriations Bills? Surely Minister Ismael can tell the public he serves monies allocated to the project under his term? Is this a case for the Auditor General to unravel in a special audit? This maybe the case based on what the blogmaster was been made aware. If only public servants would do the damn job and stop politicians from interfering ways.
Mottley Cabinet is Bloated
One of the more interesting decisions made in 2018 by the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) government led by Mia Mottley was to appoint the largest ever Cabinet in our history. Her justification for the ‘relatively large’ Cabinet was because of the overwhelming mandate received from the electorate. From 2018 until the present – with a cosmetic tweak in 2022 – the Cabinet has remained large.
Enough time has elapsed to fairly judge if a large Cabinet adds value to how the country has been governed since 2018. It has been a government led by the larger than life and seemingly indefatigable Prime Minister Mottley. Her style of delivery and oratory skill has endeared her to the international community. It is worth a reminder she inherited an economy with a GDP north of 150 with junk status credit rating. There was a feeling of renewed hope in the nation post 2018 general election.
Out of the gate the Mottley government committed the country to a debt restructure on domestic and local holdings which right sided the debt to GDP indicator BUT immediately shot the confidence of local and foreign investors. The lack of confidence to invest persists four years later. To be expected economists are divided on whether it was the right strategy, these decisions are never easy we must admit.
In Mottley’s defense she will postulate that the COVID 19 pandemic, Hurricane Elsa and La Soufriere volcano ash fall combined to derail government’s rebuild effort and in fact caused the economy to significantly contract. To reasonable onlookers she has a good defense. However hungry mouths well not be as sympathetic. The debate will continue about the BLP’s performance since 2018 until the next bell is rung.
Political pundits are already surveying a barren political landscape for alternative voting options. The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) under rookie leader Dr. Ronnie Yearwood is in the early stage of a rebuild and the many political parties that presented at the polls in 2018 and 2022 have done the usual vanishing act of which Houdini would have been proud.
What is the blogmaster trying to say in too many words?
Prime Minister Mottley has taken the reins of government at a challenging time in our history there can be no doubt. This is precisely why decisions taken by Mottley must be fit for purpose for the extraordinary times to guide a 166 square mile open economy island through the economic tempest and other challenges. There is no good reason the country should have to suffer a bloated Cabinet not to mention a bevy of financial consultants in 2022. Mottley must stop pandering to political inclinations and instead send clear signals to the population she and her government are prepared to make the sacrifice and walk with the people at a difficult time in our history.
What the blogmaster fears most is – when the next general election is called the electorate may have no choice to abstain or vote anyone posing as an opposition, a default position. The level of apathy and cynicism in the country is already low. Whither our democratic system?
60 Love Can Lose
It would be remiss of the blogmaster if the yesterday’s 2022 Grenada general election was not highlighted in this space. Keith Mitchell’s New National Party (NNP) won consecutive general elections in 2013 and 2018. The Mia Mottley led Barbados Labour Party (BLP) won consecutive general elections in 2018 and 2022. Today the Prime Minister of Grenada is 44 year old Dikcon Mitchell who led the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to office based on preliminary reporting 9 seats to 6. To his credit 75 year old Keith Mitchell won his seat.
Another example of the people expressing its will in a democracy. Time will tell if the NDC is able to satisfy people expectation or another case of shuffling chairs on the deck of the Titanic. It exposes Mia Mottley and the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) should NOT take its unprecedented mandate for granted. Less than a year into a second term and there is growing discontentment from Barbadians largely because of increasing harsh economic conditions brought on by negative movements in the external market. The main political opposition Democratic Labour Party (DLP) – not dissimilar to the NDC – is led by a new young Dr. Ronnie Yearwood. In fact Dickon Mitchell was invited to speak at the DLP’s Extraordinary Conference on 1 May 2022. The win should help to inspire Yearwood and his team to what is possible.
Some of us recognise the winning of a general election does not translate to manna from heaven, although it relieves concerns about a threat to ‘democracy’ by becoming a de facto one party state. Grenada like Barbados is a small island developing state which makes the job of governing for any government a challenge.
In the case of Mottley and Barbados one suspects if Yearwood is able to present a set of believable plans for Barbados and surround himself with a tean that is perceived as credible, who knows what is possible next election round. The recent decision by the Barbados government to borrow $256 million is not resonating well with the public. In theory many Barbados may understand we need to fix roads and attend to physical infrastructure BUT at what price. The debt stock of Barbados is north of 13 billion!
The blogmaster will continue to retreat to a position some do not accept. Citizens must continue find ways to agitate against our governments – to hold feet to fire. Politicians are in the business of popularity even if it comes at the expense of the people who elected them.
Crisis of Governance – No Damn Labour Party (NDLP)
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) was founded in 1938 and the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in 1955. For many the BLP and DLP dubbed the Duopoly are the only political parties we know. In recent years both political parties have been criticized for not being sufficiently progressive to sustain a quality life for the majority of Barbadians, present and future generations. Noticeable has been the inability of alternative parties to establish themselves as credible alternatives in a ready environment.
In 2018 and 2022 the BLP won both general elections with an unprecedented consecutive 30 to zero result. While political supporters of the duopoly have understandably contrasting feelings about the results, the more independent minded continue to be very concerned.
A strong democracy depends on quality political parties. Strong political parties depend on quality members. In recent years both DLP and BLP have been unable to attract quality individuals to stem rising voter apathy and cynicism. No need to listen to the taking heads who try to justify declining voter turnout with statistical speak. Unbiased political pundits agree that today’s voter across the globe “appear to be turning away from traditional political organizations”. It forces the question – can the democracy practiced in Barbados survive without fit for purpose political parties?
The Barbados system of government which is a parody of the Westminster system is predicated on the “public’s trust in the integrity of government”, one that embodies “a framework of ethics, professionalism and transparency”. It has become obvious EXCEPT for rabid partisan supporters our political system has been hijacked- whether it is because of a less than meritorious selection of candidates or anonymous sources of funding for political parties that flavour how decisions are made when politicians ascend to government. There is a growing bloc of disenchanted citizens- here and elsewhere- who represent a view the time has come to usher in a more direct participation by citizens to how we govern. Find ways to diminish the role of political parties and the professional political class. The days of the ‘grassroot’ politician whose sole objective was to selflessly serve the public is a faded ideal.
Barbados presents a good case study to prove the notion of a system of government failing because of a declining political party system. There is the BLP with its charismatic maximum leader- remove Mottley from the BLP leadership and there is a good chance the party will flounder to mimic the death throes being exhibited by the DLP. In the meantime and in between time the people are left with no option than to vote for twiddledee or twiddledum.
The majority of Barbadians despite our boast of being an educated people hesitate to discuss governance issues in a meaningful way. That is unless cloaked in a salacious, adversarial and contentious theme. There is the saying, a people always get the government it deserves. Across the globe this is being witnessed.
Sound of Silence
Freundel Stuart was the prime minister of Barbados in the period 2010 to 2018 after assuming the caretaker role from David Thompson who became sick on the job soon after the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) was voted to office in 2008. The legacy of Stuart’s stewardship is still being written although some pundits at this early stage are happy to label it worse than the Sandiford administration. The tactic engineered by the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) – the other member of the duopoly – has enjoyed success with branding of the Glorious Years as The Lost Decade.
The failure of a third party movement to gain traction in Barbados means the health of our democracy is nexus to well managed DLP and BLP political parties. A strident dissenting voice is a feature of the Westminster system we try to model – the lacuna created by the recent general election and ensuing legal challenge regarding how the Senate is constituted is a case in point. A good argument can therefore be made that the business of political parties is the public’s business although classified private entities. In fact the unwillingness of quality citizens to offer themselves to join political parties who aspire to selflessly serve the public is at the heart of the type of governments we are saddled.
Some of us who comment on political matters are not surprised at the dysfunctional state of the DLP. It was not difficult to forecast. Barbadians except for the rabidly partisan are turned off by the quality of politics and governments we have been getting since the Tom Adams era which ended in the mid 80s. The blogmaster opines both DLP and BLP political parties have been rotated to govern the country based on the level of voter apathy and lack of credible alternatives and little to do with substance. The unprecedented 30-0 victories at the polls by the BLP in 2018 and 2022 should give Barbadians reason to pause. The BLP despite making several mistakes in a brief tenure of just over three years the political opposition was unable to gain the public’s trust. The quality of our system of government whether we like it or not is tied to the quality of individuals attracted to serve in political parties. There is that symbiotic relationship only a fool would deny.
Today makes 32 days since the last general election and except for a public position in response to a contentious offer from Prime Minister Mottley to participate in a discussion about accepting two Senate seats, the DLP has been silent and irrelevant in the public space. Sensible observers appreciate it will take the DLP time to assess, reorganize and mobilize BUT there is a reality to be considered by the DLP and onlookers. The silence coming out of George Street is consistent with the ‘glorious years’ of the Stuart administration and the longer it persists, the more difficult it will be for that party to be perceived as a credible alternative. The blogmaster is aware the DLP has skin in the game based on the matter that is before the court brought by AG Brathwaite – who we know is acting de facto for the DLP. Some of us are not so stupid to believe otherwise.
This is a cry for a different type of citizen with a passion and body of work for serving the public to join the two main political parties. An organization assumes the character of its members. If we want our governments to change how business is done, it must begin with the quality of personnel attracted to political parties. Today it is the DLP in crisis, it is not inconceivable the BLP may find itself in a similar position when Mia Mottley demits office whether for a forced or unforced reason. If that happens all of us will be adversely impacted.
The type of government we get starts with YOU!
Another Abracadabra Moment
In 2018 the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) won all 30 seats in parliament. It created what pundits described as a political dilemma for the government because the Barbados Constitution recognizes the role of the Leader of the Opposition.
At the eleventh hour Reverend Joseph Atherley who was elected to the House of Assembly on a BLP ticket decided to cross the floor and like magic the constitutional crisis was averted. Before Atherley saved the day there was a move afoot to amend the Constitution to provision for two senators to be appointed by the Governor General from the losing political party winning the most votes. The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) would have been the beneficiary of the amendment. However, we recall campaign manager Robert ‘Bobby’ Morris criticized the move to manufacturer an opposition presence in the Upper House. His reason – a political opposition should earn its place in parliament.
In hindsight given the outcome of last week’s general election the government should have amended the Barbados Constitution to address the lacuna in the improbable event a political party again won all the seats. A discussion being had across Barbados is whether there will be another convenient crossing of the floor by a ‘disgruntled’ BLP member days after campaigning successfully on a BLP ticket in the mold of Atherley or if the shelved 2018 amendment to the Constitution will be dusted off.
Whether there is the convenient crossing of the floor by a member of parliament to create a leader of the opposition in the Lower House or amendment to the Barbados Constitution to create same in the Upper House, it is unfortunate a dissenting voice has to be created arising from the first past the post system we practice. In this regard the blogmaster does not agree with Morris that the DLP should refuse to participate in the Upper House if the opportunity is created to do so. There are commentators like Dr.Kristina Hinds who posit a view there are avenues outside of parliament to make ones voice heard.
The blogmaster’s view is that parliament provides a prominent space for an opposition voice in our system of government. It gives the opposition earned exposure that helps to create a national profile for the political party given the credibility it adds through participation from in the bowels of the parliamentary system. The country witnessed how former Senator Caswell Franklyn did it with good effect. We should not trivialize the optics of opposition participation in parliament by the public.
There is concern two unprecedented 30 to 0 mandates pave the opportunity for the Mottley led government to run roughshod over the views of members in civil society. Especially given her rambunctious leadership style. Decisions taken by the government of Barbados in the coming days have deep implications for our way of life to come.
God Bless Bim!
BLP Win 30-0, Again
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in a surprising result won all 30 seats again in a snap election called 18 months before constitutionally due by Mia Mottley.
In the coming weeks there will be robust debate about how our democracy optimally serves Barbadians with a muted dissenting voice. One may argue a healthy democracy requires a strident dissenting voice. Barbados is traveling an uncharted path given the 2018 and 2022 general election results and BELOW 50% turnout (anecdotal). In the coming weeks our attention will turn to government’s management of COVID 19, the economy, the health of political opposition and a few other key issues.
Whither the political opposition?
The blogmaster congratulates the BLP on the win and offers the advice – to whom much is given, much is expected.