Our Opposition between a rock and hard place?
In war, you can only be killed once, but in politics, many times.
–– Winston Churchill
St George South MP Dwight Sutherland certainly gave new meaning to the term “caught between a rock and a hard place” last week, appearing as he did on the “wrong” side of residents, and at least two of his Opposition Barbados Labour Party colleagues, in the raging debate over a proposed new cement company to be located next to the Flour Mill.
Ironically, the name of the new company is Rock Hard Cement Limited.
But, in hindsight, maybe Mr Sutherland might have been better served to let businessman Mark Maloney et al. face the music on this one, especially given the perception that now follows him around –– being anything other than the people’s representative on this rather controversial development.
This is not to say that the new business venture is not a worthy one. Not at all!
We rather like the fact that a group of reputable Barbadian businessman have come together in support of this new venture that is expected to drive down the costs of the locally manufactured building material and hopefully make it more cost-effective for the average person to carry out construction.
Still, it was a bit odd, to say the very least, to see a representative of Her Majesty’s Opposition sitting before a gathering of concerned –– in some instances angry –– residents arguing the case of the developer, while two of his BLP cohorts (Joseph Atherley and Mark Williams) were left to carry the fight in support of the residents, who are worried about the environmental and other impacts of having a cement manufacturing plant so close to their homes.
Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place! And of all places, in Michael Carrington’s constituency at that!
We are not saying here that any member of the Opposition cannot have private interests, or that he/she does not deserve to eat. But in the wake of the ongoing brouhaha surrounding Mr Carrington, it does leave a bit of an aftertaste, considering that client and constituent interests seldom mesh, especially in small societies like ours –– where he who pays the piper ultimately calls the tune.
Furthermore, a man cannot serve two masters; therefore, he needs to steer clear of unnecessary conflict of interests.
It is no wonder that in “more developed” societies, a definite line is drawn which politicians and others in position of public trust dare not cross –– that is, if they care to remain in public office.
But sadly, the same standard does not apply in these parts. In fact, our society shamelessly makes provision for self-serving and incestuous acts, while the needs of the majority will continue to be trampled upon at the altar of the convenient but powerful minority.
This brings us right back to our current system of governance and this thing we often boast about called democracy, which really gives Governments the right to do as they please for five years, while their opponents engage in a senseless game of shadow boxing.
How else can we term the now month-long Opposition boycott of Parliament?
As noble a cause as theirs may have been initially, it does appear at this stage that their attempts to hold Speaker Carrington to account will simply fade away in the wind, like the now seemingly too-distant cries of thousands of CLICO policyholders whose hardships are certainly not of the type that former director Leroy Parris would have us believe he is now experiencing.
But who is listening when our Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Donville Inniss appear more concerned with which Opposition MP was seen sneaking into Parliament’s lunchroom than the actual issue behind the ongoing boycott?
No wonder, the entire country, it would seem, is itself caught between a rock and a hard place too!