The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – Of Glorious Uncertainties

Jeff Cumberbatch - New Chairman of the FTC

Jeff Cumberbatch – New Chairman of the FTC

It has always been my view that the closeness of the outcome of the 2013 general elections in Barbados spoke more to a popular perception that there is very little to choose from between the two major parties with regard to policy and general conservatism, and to a shared wonderment whether the solution to our current social and economic malaise is the traditionally political than to any overwhelming or underwhelming preference for one group over the other.

A similarly, though not identically, close electoral outcome in last week’s elections in Jamaica serves only to confirm this assessment in my mind, as does the farce being played out currently in the US where, among the Republican party candidates, the frontrunner in the primaries and likely nominee is one who eschews the traditional political solution, refuses to give an intelligible answer to any policy issue and, either wittingly or unwittingly, manages literally to insult the intelligence of his audience to their wild acclamation and applause.

“We won with the poorly educated. I love the poorly educated”, he proclaims to raucous approving cheers. And as to how he will bring back the American dream that many of the electorate wishes for, he is in earnest- “Look. We can bring the American dream back. That I will tell you. We’re bringing it back. Okay? And I understand what you’re saying… “Is the American dream dead? And the American dream is in trouble…but we’re going to get it back and do some real jobs…”, before he abruptly breaks off to acknowledge a man in a “beautiful red hat”. “Stand up! Stand up!” he urges, “What a hat!”

The surprising success of this absence of specifics and the appeal to trivia causes one to wonder at the relevance of traditional poll questions about the issues that ought to be considered. Do people really give serious consideration to the party’s or an individual candidate’s position on them, should these ever be articulated? Or is it that these do matter, but not so much as the populist perception of where a party stands on a particular question of policy? Might it not be that elections are not won [or lost] so much on the basis of what you do or do not say but rather on what it is people believe you to be saying (or not saying) and whether this resonates with the volksgeist – the spirit of the people – at that critical moment? If so, our local inquiry would be more usefully directed to determining this factor rather than in spending time analyzing, in a context where all are supported by a minority of those polled only, who is likely to prove most (or more) popular. As a wise commentator once observed, in politics the truth matters less than perceptions.

Nevertheless, the expression that forms the basis of today’s caption is usually employed, not so much in the realm of electoral politics but in one that equally serves as fodder for popular discourse in the region –that of cricket. And in recent times, that conversation has focused mainly on the alleged maladministration of the game, although our playing fortunes should have received an infrequent boost with the victory of the regional squad at the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh earlier this month. Indeed, those in opposition to the regime of the current [West Indian Cricket] Board [WICB] were quick to forestall any claim to a contribution to this achievement by the Board.

Writing in a column in Wisden India, former WI cricketer and now cricket commentator, Mr Michael Holding, asserts; “For all the well-deserved praise of the young side…it is ridiculous that the victory is being used by some at the [WICB] to portray the image that everything is fine in the Caribbean (sic). The same claim was being made when the senior team won the Twenty20 World Cup in 2012, but where has our cricket gone since then?”

Mr Holding echoes a seeming general disgruntlement with the current Board that has been voiced by many regarded as influential within the region. In an earlier column in the same publication, Dr Rudi Webster intoned, “It would be a tragedy if administrators who have contributed little or nothing to the administration of West Indies cricket could knowingly and intentionally destroy everything that our great stars achieved on and off the cricket field. And indeed, everything that past administrators fought for since 1928…”

Further, the immediate dissolution of the Board has been recommended by a CARICOM Cricket Review Panel that, bizarrely, included a member nominated by the Board itself and, more recently, the heads of regional governments in caucus accused the WICB of “undermining the integrity of West Indies Cricket”, whatever that phrase might mean, and described the Board’s corporate governance standards as “undesirable”. Other similar instances abound.

In the face of this apparently universal assault on its governance from leaders, players, commentators and, as my late mother would have said, “Nesha, Kaya and Bobby Fray” [?], the Board has managed to subsist with an equal measure of obstinate claims to constitutional legitimacy and dogged confrontation. It bears reminder somehow of the poem, “Casabianca”, by Felicia Hemans –

“The boy stood on the burning deck

Whence all but he had fled;

The flame that lit the battle’s wreck

Shone round him o’er the dead…

The flames roll’d on… he would not go…

For my part, I am inclined to be wary of criticism that seems a tad too popular and eerily reminiscent of the mass hysteria of the late 17th century Salem witch hunts. Not that I am overly partial to defending the Board itself, but that I am also of the opinion that much of the current carping criticism is owed to an admixture of frustration with the woeful performances of our senior team, the impatience of the critics with a seeming inability to get their own way and a general regional sentiment that our players are among the, if not the, world’s most talented exponents of the game and if we are nowhere near the top of the ICC rankings, then it must be owed to some other factor -Others abide our question, you players are free.

Might it be the selectors? Nah! The coaches? At all! The management? Scarcely! Then it must be the Board! Are we not all on the same page?

Election Paraphernalia in the Post-General Election Period

Submitted by Flag Watcher (formerly Check-That-Out)
Attorney General's Constituency Office in St. Philip South

Attorney General’s Constituency Office in St. Philip South

Not being a Bajan I am not familiar with laws governing the removal of or election posters and other paraphernalia after the big event; but from what I have read they must be removed when it is over.

In a drive through St. Philip South on March 7, I came across a sign at a Constituency Branch Office the Attorney General. I am sure signs identifying constituency offices are quite legitimate; but expect the “Dems Now – Dems Again” flags/banners would be considered election material.

While a specialist in corporate and international law, it seems Chief Law Officer of the Executive Council may not be familiar with Barbados election laws, or may not have visited his Constituency Office since February 21.

I think that now dat Dems in again, someone shud tell he (in the words of Ronald Reagan) tek dat flag down.

2013 General Election Media Campaign

The 2013 General Election is behind us and the analysis is  being processed by those interested to determine the factors which led to the final result. There is surprise that the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) ran a media campaign which was more effective in persuading voters. One DLP TV Ad capitalized on the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) blunder of introducing the privatization issue to the campaign. BLP supporters have accused the DLP that the Ad misrepresented their position.

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Sights and Scenes From DLP Party Headquarters on Election Night

Prime Minster Fruendel Stuart being congratulated on election ight at party headquarters

Prime Minster Stuart being congratulated after the DLP was the declared the winner

There are some things the BU household has surrendered to by saying, we just do not understand.

Stuart Winning the Leadership Race as E-Day Looms

Fruendel Stuart leads Arthur in latest CADRES Poll!

Click image to read Nation newspaper report – photo credit: Nation Newspaper

Based on the most recent CADRES poll Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart is winning the leadership race. What must be of concern is that the Wickham poll was conducted before Minister of Agriculture David Estwick delivered one of the most powerful presentations of the campaign so far at the NCF on Friday night.

How will this translate in the individual constituencies with a 3.4% swing in play makes it a very interesting general election.

Say NO to the Return of the Barbados Labour Party

Submitted by Wolsley Grannum , Atlanta  GA
Stuart and Arthur, political leaders of the DLP and BLP

Stuart and Arthur, political leaders of the DLP and BLP

In 1992 independent Presidential candidate Ross Perot dropped out of the presidential race, citing dirty tricks and scare tactics by the Republican Party, as the reason for his decision. Twenty years later, the Republican Party continues to practice dirty tricks and scare tactics on the American People. The just concluded Presidential elections here in America clearly showed up the Republicans for who they truly are. This once great party of Abraham Lincoln has lost its way.  This Republican Party did everything in its power to defeat President Barrak Obama. From voter suppression to smear campaigns, personal attacks, media manipulation and negative campaigning, all supported by billionaires who had one agenda. That agenda was to defeat the President. In spite of all they did Barrak Obama won re-election with 52% of the vote.

In Barbados the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) has come to the end of its first term in office and general elections have been called for February 21, 2013. Weeks ago in anticipation of the pending announcement, the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) like the Republican Party had already resorted to dirty tricks and scare tactics to defeat the DLP. This once great party of Grantley Adams has lost its way. It has been taken over by right- wing conservatives who will lie, cheat, manipulate the media through negative campaign advertising, and through bogus manoeuvrings (like boycotting parliament) intended to scare Barbadians into voting for them.

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