Let them serve
A suggestion that former prime ministers should be given an opportunity to serve in the Senate is getting the backing of one of this country’s former leaders.
Former prime minister Sir Lloyd Sandiford told Barbados TODAY he fully supports the reintegration of former leaders into the political process.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, political strategist Reudon Eversley said they should not be allowed to languish in the wilderness.
“It is my view that former Prime Ministers should retire after losing an election and once they retire and give up their seat in the Lower House they should automatically qualify for a seat in the Senate where they would serve for the rest of their lives at no expense to the state,” he said, adding that they still had a contribution to make to shaping public policy, drawing from their wealth of experience.
“They may not want to attend Parliament every week, but if there is a particular issue on the agenda and they are interested in participating, I think that is the ideal forum where they can go and make their contribution. They would be serving in the Senate not as a representative of their party, but in an independent capacity. As an independent person they would be able to speak their mind freely without having to worry about partisan restrictions. Their status would allow them to function in a statesman like manner.”
Eversley pointed to Sir Lloyd, one of only two surviving former prime ministers, the other being Owen Arthur, as one such leader.
“It would be wonderful to have someone like Sir Lloyd in the Senate where he can speak at length on various aspects of economic policy. He should be able to speak on the current economic circumstances. I think Barbados would be the better for it. We have a tendency to discard people,” he said, as he also suggested that a formal structure be implemented for former parliamentarians who may want to contribute to public discussion to do so at no expense to the state. Responding to Eversley’s call for ex-leaders to be given a voice, Sir Lloyd said the concept is “a very useful one”.
“Basically it is allied to the idea of mentoring. Mentoring in the sense of giving support, encouragement or putting ideas out there to be used or not to be used, but to be taken into account in the planning or policy making. That is true not only in dealing with a recession, but in other areas as well,” he said.
“I am supporting the idea that every society should draw as much as possible on the knowledge and experience of those who have passed that way before.” Meantime, Eversley was also critical of the size of Cabinet. He suggested that “allocation of Cabinet positions is just a way of giving jobs to the boys”. “We believe in large Cabinets in this region because it is a way of rewarding people who, in many instances, do not understand Government. We need a more effective reconfiguration of Government,” the political strategist said.
He further recommended that a new type of politics be created in Barbados. While maintaining that adversarial politics cannot be eliminated from the Westminster system of Government, Eversley said: “We need a politics where we will argue strongly on issues and keep out the personalities. Fight at the level of ideas, fight at the level of issues.”