BARBADOS – A CRISIS OF ‘DEMOCRACY’, A FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP
The recent controversy about an alleged letter presumably written by the signature of eleven (11) Democratic Labour Party (DLP) members of parliament, their unwillingness to follow through after it came to light and the failure of the Leader of the Opposition to see this as an opening to repeat his political shenanigans of 1994, indicates that the hidden hand of white corporate power and the so-called party fathers who are at work to maintain the Fruendel Stuart regime. The letter and the discussion since, suggest a mere demand for a meeting with Prime Freundel Stuart, to discuss his leadership and was largely inspired by a recent poll, in four marginal constituencies, indicating that the DLP could lose the next general election. It was this type of request for a meeting that led to the ouster of Clyde Mascoll as opposition leader in 2007. Its discovery and surreptitious release to the press, in our judgment, speaks volumes about the behind-the-scenes intrigues, broad-based acceptance by a range of forces that the front men of Barbados politics can only maintain their positions with the support of the elites (especially white elites) and the naked instrumentality of all political parties in Barbados.
We have heretofore been reluctant to criticize Prime Minister Freundel Stuart for a number of reasons. These include, but are not limited to, the circumstances under which he became PM, our judgment that Stuart’s appointment was likely to generate the types of criticisms leveled at former Prime Minister,Erskine Sandiford, the persuasive argument by the editor of this blog that Stuart would be a different man when given his own mandate, and our judgment that Stuart was the most likely to make fundamental changes to the structure of capital in Barbados or at least attempt reforms in some area at the margins. It is therefore painful to concede that in just over a year we have seen no signal that Stuart intends to take a different path to that established by Owen Arthur and others. Defenders of Stuart will want to counter with the retort that it has only been a little over a year and that he should be given more time. However, the adumbration of the deepening crises likely to soon totally engulf the DLP government, by the ‘gang of eleven’ and others, require critical engagement by any party leadership worth its salt. More generally, Stuart’s prime ministerial responses to the present economic environment have been, at best, uninspiring and at worst a blatant dereliction of duty.
It is our judgment that the leader of this ‘gang of eleven’ is yet to be shown as being politically adroit. However, we do not consider him to be a political neophyte either. We are not persuaded that either Frueundel Stuart, Christopher Sinckler, Mia Mottley, Owen Arthur or Clyde Mascoll has any real responses to the economic problems faced by Barbados, nobody does. For Christopher Sinckler to allow himself to be scooped in this manner indicates to us that a ‘trusted’ insider was more loyal to the financial elites and the party fathers than to the idea of challenging what was considered as the misguided leadership of Stuart. That the ‘insider’ may have been working for the interest of the Barbados Labour Party and may have been seeking to create the political circumstances that would see the quick return of Arthur to government, cannot be discounted. The printing of the letter in The Nation newspaper also suggests a BLP link because this newspaper is known for its ties to the BLP generally and Arthur in particular. Should this leaked letter have been sent to the Advocate none of us would have been any wiser. DLP officials have shown, rightly or wrongly, a bias for the Advocate. What is more unfortunate is that Owen Arthur has, in circumstances pregnant with possibilities for another no-confidence motion (ala 1994), kept a deafening silence. He might have been waiting for his political construct to bear fruit but his plan could have been intercepted by the money men. These series of events suggests that the leading white people and black elites in Barbados have ordained that his time has not yet come – again. Our editor has suggested that for the vested interests to protect Stuart from both Sinckler and Arthur indicates a need to keep things stable in the short-term and so avoid the deepening of the political and economic turmoil that is likely in the medium-term. His is a reasonable determination but another interpretation may guide one to believe that Stuart has been granted protection in his own right and for services rendered or to be rendered to the corporate elites and establishment figures.
We contend that it is only a policy of radical transformation that has the best chance to save Freundel Stuart and the DLP government from electoral defeat - a defeat that will leave the people of Barbados in a no- better position. This represents the opposite of the perceptions of many that PM Stuart seems to be sitting back comforted in a mistaken belief that if he keep things steady Bajans