When silence is not golden, but suspect
It is not so much a tangled web being weaved in Christ Church West, but more of an unnecessary one.
Elements, not yet publicly identified, have suggested that MP Maria Agard is not pulling her weight in the constituency. It is a charge which the dentist by profession has strenuously denied. She has publicly given examples of a number of initiatives undertaken under her watch, to counter those allegations. Interestingly, no one has come forward to dispute anything which she has said with respect to her work in the community.
Some have pointed to health issues as if tacitly suggesting that this translates into an inability to service her constituents. Balderdash! Miss Agard has been very visible within the precincts of Parliament as captured by both electronic and print media. Her presence at public meetings held by the Barbados Labour Party within recent times has also been captured by the media. We daresay that we all have health issues, some more severe than others, and if this is the situation with the first-time parliamentary representative, we should all be praying for her swift resolution of any problem while respecting her right to privacy.
There have also been suggestions that shenanigans are afoot in Christ Church West, specifically with the purpose of facilitating a move from Christ Church South by Senator Jerome Walcott to that riding. Dr Walcott has stoutly denied this and has indicated he has no interest in Miss Agard’s seat, furthermore replacing her. We do not doubt the sincerity of Dr Walcott’s denial, nor do we believe he would orchestrate or be part of any mischief directed against his political colleague.
Then, why this sense of intrigue? Why the rumblings in the constituency branch? Who are the identities of those allegedly stoking discontent? Why hasn’t Miss Agard’s parliamentary colleagues, to a man and woman, publicly voiced their support for her and confidence in her stewardship of the Christ Church West constituency?
Supporters of the Barbados Labour Party will watch the goings-on in the constituency with great interest, having earlier witnessed the sordid happenings in the St James North constituency when some colleagues of former parliamentarian Rawle Eastmond had concluded that his shelf life had expired. Then, somewhat more vociferous and vehement than Miss Agard, Mr Eastmond had complained bitterly about operatives in his own party plotting against him.
Surely, party supporters would not like to see any internal political bloodletting at a time when the Barbados Labour Party is on a mission to present itself as a serious alternative Government-in-waiting.
The rumblings in the Christ Church West constituency also once again throw into focus the functioning, or somnolence, of the women’s branch of the Barbados Labour Party.
We recall that during the political savaging of Opposition Leader Mia Mottley by the Firing Five in the pre-2013 period, the Women’s League offered no public comfort, support or solace to Miss Mottley. We are not aware of any that was offered in private. Once more, as Miss Agard seeks to defend her stewardship, it seems a severe strain of laryngitis has once again afflicted the goodly women of the league.
Opposition politics is no bed of roses, and having the responsibility for a constituency under such circumstances, especially in areas heavily populated by lower and middle-income earners, adds another critical element to the dynamics of political representation. We have had one St Michael MP publicly speak to the headaches of not only representing, but living in such a constituency, while in Opposition. Party support, not intrigue, proves much more helpful in these instances.
Perhaps it is time that both politicians and constituents move away from the idea of representation equating to being seen in the village rum shop, at the funerals of constituents, smiling sheepishly in newspapers while handing out Christmas hampers, or wrapping hands gratuitously around the arms of the families of victims of house fires and the like. There is a tendency of some in our midst to see politicians as their saviour, some earthly messiah, whose elevation to the House of Assembly means the end of their troubles. Simpletons believe this nonsense.
Politicians should be seen as policymakers and facilitators; not saviours; with the onus still heavily on the constituents to make their own way in the world. Christmas hampers do not last past Christmas. Houses burn because they are houses, and people die because they ought to. Politicians performing perfunctory tasks, for all the feel-good effect it brings to some, does nothing for the quality of life for those caught up in the battle between red and blue.
At his juncture in our history with the economy in the mire, confidence flagging and the ruling Democratic Labour Party still very much under the microscope over its leadership, or lack thereof, any Opposition party that becomes entangled in internal bickering and stealthy manoeuvring, does not deserve to be taken seriously as an alternative.
We hope, that for our political process to continue to be at its most vibrant, Miss Mottley nips this folly in the bud; that Miss Agard finds the support among her colleagues which is deserving within the context of party politics; and that the Christ Church West constituents are made to feel satisfied with what they voted for on February 21, 2013.
Time will tell.