The following is a response to the blogmaster’s observation posted on the April 26, 2018 11:30 PM directed at Walter Blackman: – “What will be interesting in the days and few weeks ahead is how the various political parties craft their messages to the public”.
If you start me up
If you start me up I’ll never stop
–The Rolling Stones
In my humble opinion, pragmatic though ye maybe, you are thinking “old school”.
I find it more interesting to wait and see how the various political parties craft their response to the messages that have been sent by the public.
Please forgive me for being prolix, but I will offer three low-hanging examples to give you an example of how I am thinking.
Firstly, from the standpoint of governance, Mara Thompson continued to be a natural face of the CLICO debacle. CLICO policyholders were given a deadline to confirm all of the information related to their policies which were to be transferred to the new insurance company established by the government. If I remember correctly, the very next day after that deadline, Mara Thompson announced to Gercine Carter of the Nation that her life in parliament was now coming to an end. Politically, she had “false-started” and obviously was advised to claw back the announcement.
The government of Barbados officially transferred the assets and liabilities of CLICO to a politically contrived new insurance company. If my memory serves me correctly, immediately after that event, Mara Thompson announced her retirement from politics and handpicked George Pilgrim as her “successor”. She had decided to “take the money” and not run. The deal had been sealed. No need for any clawback this time. As a former Office Manager of Thompson & Associates, and Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mara Thompson now saw how easy it was for the political class to callously transform the wicked actions of evildoers into a financial burden of billions of dollars, and then to deftly place that burden upon the back of docile Barbadian taxpayers.
The CLICO scandal is extremely nasty business. It represents a large crimson stain on the white table cloth of our national psyche. Not too long ago, I submitted a poem to BU entitled “The Walrus and the Carpenter”. Hopefully, discerning BU readers can now see the similarity in the roles being played by the oysters in that poem, and by CLICO policyholders in real life.
The public’s message that has been sent to the political class is that we want the wrongdoers in the CLICO scandal to be punished, and that we want our regulatory system to be tightened and strengthened so that politicians, civil servants, and the whole range of a company’s management team cannot band together and collude to raid and destroy a corporation again.
It should be easy to see, which party crafts a response to this public demand.
Secondly, the Land Registry and the Town & Country Planning Dept. have a database of all politicians and civil servants who own and have developed property in Barbados. Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) has a database of the income which these people have claimed to receive over the past decades.
I am sure that Balaam’s most prized possession, his female ass, is intelligent enough to line up the public salaries of civil servants and politicians with the properties they own and have developed. If an ass can do it, why can’t we? All sensible Barbadians are now calling for those civil servants and politicians who have misappropriated public funds, or who have laundered money, to be identified and punished as criminals.
Have you heard any major political party promising to take these elementary steps to deal with the corrosive influence of corrupt public officials in Barbados? Why not?
Thirdly, Tom Adams, arguably the most brilliant (despite his recklessness) Finance Minister that Barbados has produced to date, possessed enough confidence and political maturity to seek out and attract the talented Owen Arthur, who eventually became PM of Barbados.
On the other hand, the “Cammie Tudor installed PM” Erskine Sandiford, lacking training and expertise in the areas of economics and finance, had to get rid of Dr.Richie Haynes from his cabinet because the electorate had already begun to show some confidence in the Doc’s ability. In a similar vein, David Thompson, all style and no substance when it came to matters of economics and finance, had to get rid of Clyde Mascoll.
Having joined forces with others to rob CLICO policyholders, despite being Prime Minister of Barbados and Minister of Finance, David Thompson then had to push Dr. David Estwick, his former shadow Minister of Finance, to the perceived outer peripheral ring of his cabinet. Through his last-minute pronouncements, it became crystal clear that all of David Thompson’s preoccupations, in life and death, had now morphed into one concentrated goal: to make sure that details of the CLICO grand robbery never reached the eyes and ears of the Barbadian public. He and his co-conspirators, not to mention the Financial Standards Commission (FSC), failed miserably in that regard. God does not like ugly. All we can do now is to fervently pray, that one of these days, millions of years from now, the tormented soul of David Thompson will be finally released from purgatory.
Ryan Straughn, not recognizing that he has a bull’s eye on his political back because of his training in economics, attempted to give Barbadians a comprehensive and analytical view of the various options open to us a country when it came to making a decision on the Transport Board. Of course, privatization of the Transport Board is an option that merits discussion, and the young economist correctly included it in his analysis. With an eye towards destroying Ryan’s stature in the political arena as an economist, before he even got a chance to build it, political agents and his own colleagues immediately jumped into the press and advised members of the electorate not to pay any attention to the mouthings of Ryan Straughn. “This is a subject our party has decided to hide from the public. Ryan is a political rookie, an educated fool, a naïve ‘wet-behind-the –ears’ candidate who has now broken the rules of engagement with the public which the BLP has secretly established”, they effectively declared.
Given the fact that, in the absence of “divine” intervention, the Barbadian economy is about to crash (with thousands upon thousands of resulting fatalities), the Barbadian electorate wanted every serious-minded political party to invite decent, honest-minded Barbadians with backgrounds, training, and expertise in the areas of business and finance, to run for public office. These criteria effectively disqualify 99.9% of lawyers.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that Barbadians have lost their trust and confidence in lawyers, and are now clamouring to see corrupt practices eradicated from public life, the major political parties still persist in foisting lawyers upon the electorate?
We shall wait and see what excuses the major political parties are able to come up with for disregarding this public demand.
I haven’t even mentioned FATCA and the opportunity that that imposed legislation creates for us to produce a list of politicians and civil servants with hefty unjustified and indefensible foreign accounts. Such a list should be read out in parliament.
Have you heard this message being preached by our political parties?
I can go on and on……
Hopefully, we shall reconnect after the General Elections are over.