“But the weather changed abruptly, and a wind of typhoon strength burst across the island and blew us out to sea. The sailors couldn’t turn the ship into the wind, so they gave up and let it run before the gale” – Acts 27:14 -15.
This year’s theme in the 2008 calendar of CLICO International Life is “Visions of Verse – Caribbean Poetry in vivid colour”. In January the verse is “In the cacophony of this world, life is but a whisper. A trace of sound, trickling slowly, slowly, slowly along the thread of time, yet every life changes the sound”. In Barbados on 15 January 2008 each vote was but a murmur, a ballot quietly deposited throughout the day, yet every vote effected the change.
It was reported that Barbados was hit by a political tsunami, but as the dust has settled around Barbados, the reality is that the DLP has been returned to power. One of my Caribbean colleagues in Canada reported that “it was good to see a change in government, not because there are major philosophical differences between the two parties, but simply to bring some fresh new ideas into government. I have long admired the peacefulness in which Barbadians go to the polls, conduct elections, vote and accept both defeat and victory with grace. It speaks volumes to the country, its politicians and citizenry as a whole”.
Congratulations to Prime Minister David Thompson and the DLP on a convincing victory. Thanks to the BLP for their contribution to development of Barbados over the last three terms in office and special congratulations to PM Owen Arthur for being so gracious in defeat. “Well done” to the officials and the people of Barbados for effecting an incident free election process. All these things enhance the image of Barbados as a leading developing country and can only serve to promote Barbados, as an example of “democracy in action”, to the entire world. This is a major asset which we must lever to the fullest.
Previous administrations have done a good job establishing Barbados as the leader of emerging nations in the Caribbean from a holistic perspective, now we must move towards becoming one of the leaders among emerging nations in the world. This means that we must demonstrate sustainable economic growth from which will emerge poverty reduction and socio-economic well being for the populace.
The 2008 DLP administration must now mobilise its resources as quickly as possible and seek to use as much of the intellectual capital in Barbados as possible to propel us forward. There is no room for myopic political partisanship if we are serious about getting ahead. The 30 candidates and other major players behind the DLP victory must now focus on representation of the people. The management of the country is, however, another matter. We must get the governance right. Traditionally, some elected members become Ministers and occasionally Ministers are selected from appointed Government Senators. Elected and faithful party members are appointed to the many Statutory Boards and Diplomatic positions. However, the full range of expertise required to propel the country forward at a respectable clip, much faster than we have been going, is not necessarily found among elected representatives and faithful party members. There are many well equipped and experienced Barbadians, at home and in the Diaspora, who may not be party loyalists but who have the future of Barbados at heart. These resources must be mobilised as well.
Get the youth involved on statutory boards so that they can acquire experience. We may even find that they contribute significantly as well. It will bode well for seamless succession planning in years to come.
It was reported in the press on Jan 17 that “As the Democratic Labour Party takes over the reins of government in Barbados following Tuesday’s election victory, credit rating firm, Standard & Poor’s has suggested that while fiscal restraint could improve the country’s creditworthiness, these policies will be difficult for the new government to manage as the Barbadian economy slows”. Please let us be creative and innovative and expand the economy quickly so that credit worthiness considerations can be put on the back burner. I look forward to the forensic audits especially in situations where they will stop the depletion of our foreign reserves and family silver.
Congratulations to Peter Wickham and Cadres, who were commissioned by the Nation Newspaper to conduct opinion polls, and to Stephen Broome and Systems Consulting who enhanced the CBC TV coverage on the night with seat predictions as the results were revealed box by box. There was a measure of nostalgia for me as both of these activities originated during my watch at Systems Caribbean Limited over 25 years ago in collaboration with political analysts such as the late Dr. Patrick Emmanuel and Mr. Wendell McLean.
It was interesting to note the effectiveness of Peter Wickham’s swing analysis. The BLP seats, with the exception of St Joseph, got knocked over one by one as was expected once the wind force established itself. Politicians please note that polling is a science. To say that one does not believe in scientific polls is like saying that one does not believe in gravity.
Now that the wind has subsided, let us all put our shoulders to the plough, a fitting pledge for this Errol Barrow Day.