Barbados Trini style

It is not uncommon when journalists get together in less demanding circumstances than those presented by daily newsroom routines, to talk politics. And in the case of journalists whose duties more heavily involve business and/or regional matters, these discussions quite often involve a heavy dose of comparisons.

For instances, there is always that discussion about how a Trinidad government ever achieves anything developmental when almost every day it appears much of its time is spent outing fires that are quite frankly distractions from the task of national management.

Just a cursory glance at the Trinidad newspapers over the past six months, for example, would show how the People’s Partnership government daily stumbles from one crisis to another, many of its own making — or at least the result of less than prudent thinking, talking or acting by its individual members.

Fortunately for us in Barbados, where traditionally we keep quiet about everything — injustice and good favour alike — crises at the governmental or national level tend to be few and far between. If anything, it would appear that our biggest crisis is in conformity — we don’t raise our voice, temperature or blood pressure for any reason, even when doing so would appear to be the appropriate thing.

So what has happened of late? Is there a change taking place or are we just witnessing some aberration that has been provoked by the inevitable anxiety that accompanies a general election — or the fact that one is due?

We have moved from the apparently never-dying Alexandra School situation to the Barbados Workers Union/LIME impasse that seems set to bring economic activity to a halt; now to a threat by the Barbados Labour Party to boycott Parliament, a move that could help to further raise national passions as Barbadians begin to stake out their political positions ahead of the approaching poll.

In the case of Alexandra, the Barbadian “passion” for solving everything quickly so as not to hurt our reputation as the region’s most “ordered” people seems to have eluded this matter now for well over a year. It has moved from a dispute between teachers and their principal, to one between teachers, their union and the principal; and the twists since then have been many. The Ministry of Education fell out of favour with some and the Prime Minister became the darling there, then he too apparently fell out of favour; the unshakable bond between unions turned to apparent bad blood and suspicion and a relatively small and simple matter by Barbadian standards drags on.

In the case of the BWU/LIME affair, two “partners” that have for decades viewed each other with suspicion are now openly at war, with a national shutdown looming, again in circumstances that are not traditional to Barbados. What’s so peculiar about the current dispute that has caused it to escalate from stalled talks to national strike in a matter of hours?

Also peculiar for “orderly” Barbados is the fact that while a dispute between two entities is about to, potentially, cause significant hardship and dislocation for a significant number of Barbadians on a matter that is at best “parochial”, the person with the national muscle to do something opens not his mouth.

Then there is the matter of the BLP’s planned boycott of Parliament from tomorrow. On the face of it, this is not a course of action that should cause anyone to suffer insomnia, except that in the normal course of things Bajan politics tends to be much more mundane.

Except for a “poor-rakey comment” here, “he pulled a gun on me” accusation there and a “he cussed my mother” flare-up for added measure, Parliament in Barbados is the very bastion of conservatism. Practices that have long outlived their usefulness we would not even consider changing or dispensing with.

So are we changing? Are we becoming a little more Trinidadian in our approach? Or, will we have a general election and return to the status quo?

This week seems set to be a most interesting one in the affairs of Barbados!

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