DLP should not relax
The Democratic Labour Party has been returned to office by the slenderest of margins and while the parliamentarians, members and supporters of the party should rightly celebrate and be happy, they should by no means feel that they have finished the job and that they have bragging rights and that they should relax for the next five years.
The truth is that while the Dems have managed to retain the Government, they have actually lost five seats and are substantially weakened. In fact when a final analysis if done, the political scientists and thinkers will agree that they perhaps owe their somewhat shock victory to the most unlikely of candidates — James Paul and to a lesser extent, Michael Carrington.
After perhaps riding David Thompson’s coat-tails into Parliament with a narrow 25 vote margin in 2008, Paul would have been expected to be among the sure losers if Peter Wickham’s predictions of a seven-plus per cent swing to the BLP was accurate. There was hardly anyone I knew or spoke to who felt Carrington would have retained St. Michael West, as his victory margin of 315 votes in 2008 too fell well within the swing foretold.
It also must be noted that Paul was a back-bencher and one of only three government MPs not holding a post within the administration, the others being Mara Thompson and Hamilton Lashley.
Carrington was the Speaker of the House of Assembly, but also not in Cabinet and hence unable to provide “largess” to his constituents as a minister would be able to. This would have also been the situation with Kenny Best, the former deputy speaker, who was unable to retain his seat.
It will now be very interesting to see how Prime Minister Stuart responds to strong message sent by the electorate and how he rewards these two, two-time winners, when he names his new Cabinet next week.
As his title suggests, Paul, as the CEO of the Barbados Agriculture Society, is a professional and expert in agriculture and is an obvious choice to head this ministry.
Like most of the politicians in Barbados, Carrington is an attorney-at-law, which makes him likely for practically any of the other ministries.
Tourism is one area that Stuart may want to consider. As Speaker, Carrington proved to be a good listener and ruled the House firmly and fairly. We need a good listener in the vital tourism sector, who can then use the information provided to the betterment of the country.
While these gentlemen should be rewarded, there are a few who should be, well, punished. Richard Sealy and Ronald Jones top this list.
Under Sealy tourism has gone backward with no restructuring, no white paper or master plan, no improvement in sports or heritage tourism and most of all, no increased arrivals!
In fact, with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation reporting growth across the region, Barbados is the only tourists dependent destination with a decrease over five per cent. St. Lucia’s was negligible at under minus one per cent.
Jones made a mockery of the Alexander/Jeff Broomes situation and embarrassed himself, Barbados and our education system across the world. He should be surely reassigned.
It is clear that while Sealy and Jones failed on a national level, they did enough in their respective constituencies to hold their seats.
With a full slate of 16 parliamentarians, that is now smaller than his entire Cabinet of 19 in the last government, meaning that the PM must be very creative. In the past he has gone the route of appointing senators and then naming them as ministers, but this time around he has should revisit this trend.
How would or should Paul or Carrington feel to once again be passed over for a ministerial position and a two-time loser like Haynesley Benn be once again granted a seat at the Cabinet table, or worse yet someone like Maxine McClean who has never yet faced the polls!
Again with a smaller pool of just 16 MPs than he inherited in 2010, and a whole lot of ministries that were created, it will be very interesting to see the final mix Stuart finally comes up with, not only in perhaps combining ministries and their functions, but also those who will head them.
In our system each ministry not only had a minister, but also a permanent secretary, if it is decided to reduce the size of the Cabinet due to the reduced number of MPs, what happens to these professionals.
Only time will tell.
Over to you Mr. Prime Minister.
— Roseanne Gill