Could it be that some people never learn?
Has the ruling Democratic Labour Party forgotten the position they were in just prior to the February 21 general elections? Could it be that they did not get the message that Barbadians want to be engaged by those they have elected, and perhaps even more so now that it is clear that the economic stranglehold we are in apparently has no plans of easing?
Today is exactly 50 days since Barbadians voted. That means we are half-way through the supposedly “magical” 100-day honeymoon that all Governments are expected to enjoy. A time when the connection between the elected and the elector is so strong and the enthusiasm of the victors so overwhelming that the country feels as though the campaign is still on.
Not so in Barbados this time around. The country has returned to the same old quiet of the pre-campaign period and all around citizens are asking each other: “So what is going on?”
We don’t seek to subtract from the victory of Prime Minister Stuart and his team, but those who sit on his right and left when the big boys get together, if they are honest, will readily admit that many members of the team openly expressed concern that their failure to engage the people left many of them worried about a possible defeat.
Yes, there was the campaign rhetoric about “Don’t worry, we can’t lose this!”, but those who spoke privately knew otherwise. On that basis alone, we did not ever anticipate that the Dems would start their new term as they did during so much of the last. We will not gain friends by saying it, but given the shaky first quarter performance and the less-then-exciting projections for the next three quarters, this Government owes to Barbadians nothing but robust engagement.
As we have said before, we do not consider scripted, mono-focused presentations at speech days, product launches, opening of conferences and the like as substitutes for meaningful dialogue, exchanges with the people — and involving the Fourth Estate as an integral part of the process.
Yes, Ministers Michael Lashley, Stephen Lashley, John Boyce, Donville Inniss, Denis Kellman and Ronald Jones, among others, have given some speeches, but it falls short of what the country requires at this time.
Amazingly, the man who took the brunt of the beating for not talking to the population, the very Prime Minister himself, is again the most silent player in the DLP team — and he is its leader. It may please the Opposition to hear us say that he should not be in that position, but we have no intention of going there. Whoever the DLP members choose to lead them is their affair, and who the country chose to take the reins of power must be respected.
Add to that the fact that Stuart demonstrated without a hint of doubt during the campaign that he possesses the skill to take on any opponent; so he has no excuse. The Dems have no excuse. The state of our economic affairs demands that there can be no excuses.
When it was clear in the fourth quarter of the last decade that the world was heading into a deep recession and our business community, and individuals, started to cry out for action, as genuine as the cry might have been, it would have been clear that coming out of years of plenty many who said they were hurting still had some fat reserves to draw on.
Except for those who are economically obese, Barbados is to a large extent today populated by the financially lean — even if it gets no worse over the next five years many will still find themselves falling into a state of anorexia.
We will not support anyone in any attempts to undermine the Government. The people have given them a mandate, slender though it might have been, and we expect to see and hear them act like they are in charge. A fifty-day period of what can only be taken as either virtual inactivity or a failure to report on work does not send an inspiring message of what to expect in the years ahead.
Quite frankly Mr. Prime Minister, many of us are nervous.