A mock campaign
The Democratic Labour Party and the Barbados Labour Party – also known as Tweedledee and Tweedledum – have done it again! Just like in 2008 they have conspired to go through an entire General Election campaign without engaging in even one organised public debate!
Rather than submitting themselves to a public debate in which they would have taken serious questions from seasoned journalists and would have been obliged to publicly demonstrate their knowledge of the issues (or lack thereof), they chose – once again – to rely on the lavish spending of money and the provision of extravagant entertainment spectacles.
Gone are the days when party leaders like Dr Richie Haynes, the late David Thompson and Owen Arthur lined up against each other in the CBC television studios and engaged in robust debate that was designed to help voters gain a deeper insight into the different political programmes on offer.
It is sad to record, but it is undeniable, that the Barbadian political process has severely degenerated over the past decade, and Elections are now all about the spending of money and the bribing of voters. And where is all of this money coming from anyway? Neither one of these parties will condescend to provide any such information, such is their contempt for the ordinary Barbadian citizen.
And even if we try to extract some substance from the frivolity, noise and clamour that the two parties have inflicted on the Barbadian people over the past three weeks, all we can discern is a mock battle over two self-evident economic principles.
The BLP have spent the election campaign trying to convince the Barbadian people that in order to combat an economic recession, the government of the day has to take measures to restore the purchasing power of the masses of the people – in BLP parlance, to “put back money in the people’s pockets”. The DLP, on the other hand, have gone to great lengths to assert that in a small open economy like Barbados the government has to take measures to ensure that the country’s stock of foreign reserves is not depleted.
Well this is a false debate or a mock battle because the simple truth is that the Government has to do both! Simply put, any Barbados government worth its salt has to understand that it must restore the purchasing power of the Barbadian people while at the same time keeping a watchful eye on the foreign reserves.
The other mock battle that was engaged in during the course of the lavish and extravagant campaign was over the issue of privatisation! It is a mock battle because both the DLP and the BLP have given clear signals that they are contemplating some programme of privatisation.
Back in 2011, when Therese Turner-Jones, the IMF’s mission leader to Barbados, was demanding that the Barbados Government institute cuts and limit its social spending, the DLP’s Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Chris Sinckler, went on the public record and confirmed that his Government and the IMF were “on the same page”.
So there is really little or no divide between the DLP and the BLP on the issue of privatisation!
But what about all the “REAL” issues that have not been seriously addressed by either the DLP or the BLP? What about:-
1. The urgent need to re-establish the soundness of the finances of our Government?
2. The critical need to re-energise production in crucial industries such as Tourism, Manufacturing, and Agriculture?
3. The crisis of dysfunction, impotence and irresponsibility that is afflicting a whole range of institutions in Barbados?
4. The need for a new and effective Social Contract of fairness and justice for Barbadians at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder?
5. The need to thoroughly reform our system of education so that we can effectively release the creativity and energy of all of our people?
6. The need to forge new developmental initiatives based firmly on our young people?
7. The urgent need to root our people in a profound knowledge of their Barbadian, Caribbean and African heritage?
8. The need for Constitutional and institutional reforms designed to give more power and say to our people?
9. The urgent need to conceptualise and develop a more appropriate and self-sustaining “style of living” in Barbados?
10. The need for a new Caribbean nationhood and economy project?
11. The need to conceptualize and develop a new economic relationship with ever-expanding, resource rich Latin America?
12. The urgent need to tackle badly slipping standards of morality, ethics and personal behaviour?
Millions and millions of dollars have been spent by the DLP and BLP, but none of these critical issues have been seriously addressed if they have been addressed at all! What a shame!
* David Comissiong is president of the President of the Peoples Empowerment Party