For a significant slice of the Barbadian population the Crop-Over Festival is a necessary diversion. For two months many focus on our culture — whatever we conceive it to be — and for that period everyday cares that we are normally unable to avoid take second place.
But Crop-Over is also a period of serious business for many, since it is that time of year when they are able to push commercial activity to help “tide them over” until Independence, Christmas and the winter tourist season kick in.
We are also reasonably sure that Crop-Over is also embraced with both arms by politician in any ruling party since while Bajans are partying they pay considerably less attention to the words and actions, or lack thereof, of politicians. As a matter of fact, with so many calypsonians stuck in the “wave yuh rag” more, our politicians don’t even have to bother too much about biting calypso shifting the focus back on them.
But sadly, or happily, depending on where you sit, Crop-Over 2012 is over and its back to business as usual. Many employees, and employers, will sit out tomorrow after the exertion of yesterday’s Grand Kadooment, but by Wednesday the reality of life’s daily grind in Bim.
However, we suspect that few things will shift into focus in the post-Crop-Over period like general elections. While the speculation of when Prime Minister Freundel Stuart will call elections never really ended during the period of festivities, there was a lull. Now, however, whether or not he and the Democratic Labour Party wishes, it is reasonable to expect that Owen Arthur and the Barbados Labour Party will do everything in their power to set the political agenda.
Stuart may have the final words in when Barbadians go to the polls, but the Constitution at this point allows him a maximum nine-months window right now and his capacity to surprise the Opposition has all but dried up. It is virtually impossible to spring a surprise as the Opposition has been in election mode, it would appear, for several months.
And unless there is something magical happening about which we are unaware, we suspect there is not going to be any massive election war chest available to the Government with which to outspend the Opposition. So as far as we are concerned, it looks like, on the face of it, the comparative advantage usually available to a ruling party will be missing in the election campaign.
What we are also expecting is that given the state of the economy and the acute awareness of Barbadians of that state, the ruling party cannot easily engage in the kind of election spending that some Governments have been known to invoke at this time. And in any event the party has already vowed that it will be fiscally responsible with public funds — although that does not account for the injection that will come from those who believe their interests are better served by having a DLP team in power.
For the record we note that this is not unique to the Dems, since there are those in the business community who will also fatten the BLP’s election purse on the premise that Arthur and his team will better serve their agenda.
In the midst of all this, nearly one half of the population, those who have the right to vote, will be bombarded with messages about who they should or should not vote for — and of course the usual menu of promises that perhaps never will be fulfilled.
It’s back to normal in Barbados from tomorrow — after a Grand Kadooment.