It has been said so often, and proven with such regularity, that there can’t be many people around who don’t understand what is meant by — a week in politics is a long time.
Many a politician, or political hopeful, has discovered to his own detriment the truth of this statement; and at the same time they are just as many who must still smile at their good fortune when they recall their rise to some position of power or great influence.
Barbados is now in the middle of what will, without doubt, turn out to be a do or die election for at least one of its political leaders. One does not have to extrapolate too much to conclude that should Prime Minister Freundel Stuart lose this election the probability of him leading the Democratic Labour Party afterward is slim to zero.
Similarly, should Owen Arthur fail to take the bacon on this his comeback attempt it is all but certain that he too will be at the end of his days as party leader.
The problem here is that only one can win!
Which bring us to the main thrust of our utterances. All the rabble rousing from the platform aside, a key tool for winning the votes of persons who don’t see themselves as committed to either the BLP or the DLP will be the election manifestos.
And here’s where the week in politics comes in. While DLP spokesman Chris Sinckler has been quoted in the press as saying his party will release its election manifesto next week, we have had no public declaration of a release date from the Bees. However, we don’t anticipate that either party will retain the secrecy of the document beyond next weekend.
Assuming that manifestos are released next Sunday night at the latest, that leaves Barbadians with three days to read and digest what is promised, since voting will begin promptly at 6 a.m. Thursday. Under no circumstances can that be considered reasonable, particularly given what became of the DLP’s from last election, and the circumstances that are likely to confront whoever takes the reins of power.
We readily accept that neither party wants such a vital document in the public domain so early that its opponents can effectively rubbish its contents. But Barbados is a well educated society and its people are not incapable of seeing beyond the rhetoric that is offered just for the sake of partisan political gain.
Additionally, nationally we have invested too much in our academic community for us not to put them on the spot when it comes to offering critical, non-partisan analysis of what is offered in an effort to help the less savvy or aware make up their minds.
One only needs to take a glance back at the last United States presidential election to see how the proposals of both Barak Obama and Mitt Romney were held up to intense scrutiny, forcing them to offer much more than broad outlines.
Unlike the 2008 election when there was some disputing and uncertainty about where the global economy, and by extension the Barbados economy, was heading, this time around we have had five years of depression and the benefit of a much more enlightened world media to help put things in perspective.
No Government at this stage should be able to get way with a “we did not know” statement because each voter should be able to say ahead of polling that he or she will not rubber-stamp a flawed plan.
One week, is not enough to subject a manifesto to the intense scrutiny it deserves and it is about time our two major parties start acting in a manner that respects this position. Take your licks and let truly enlightened people vote.