We cannot pat ourselves on the shoulder at having gone into Independence; having decolonized our politics. We cannot pat ourselves on the shoulders at having decolonized our jurisprudence by delinking from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and explain to anybody why we continue to have a monarchical system. Therefore, the Right Excellent Errol Barrow decolonized the politics; Owen Arthur decolonized the jurisprudence; and Freundel Stuart is going to complete the process.
–– Prime Minister Freundel Stuart addressing a meeting of the Democratic Labour Party’s St George South Constituency branch last night.
With the exception perhaps of our surviving Governors General and the monarchy-worshipping Julian Hunte, there are hardly any self-respecting or right-thinking Barbadians around who would differ with the Prime Minister on the need for us to stop pledging allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen.
To do so, would be to put paid to any stand against the Government’s argument that tertiary education should no longer be free.
With that said, we couldn’t help but notice that for the first time in our recollection at least our Prime Minister has said enough to suggest he actually cares how we will remember him after he has left political office.
Still, his timing does seem a bit odd and we therefore feel duty-bound to remind those who were in sounding distance of Mr Stuart’s voice this weekend that “going republic” is not taking us anywhere we have not gone already on the HMS DLP.
Were it so, the Caribbean Court of Justice, which delinked us from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, would have achieved unanimous regional acclaim by now, instead of its current “poor-rakey” membership that does not even include the country in which it is based.
Furthermore, the growing choir of discontent over decisions made by the Trinidadian-based regional court would not be led by those whom we think should know better, including certain lawyer “pals” of our very own Prime Minister, ably supported by other Government cohorts who you would think would take the path way above putting nationality before the ethos of the regional court.
It is this same mentality that stifles our enthusiasm about this latest talk of republicanism.
And coming as it has on the heels of the deafening silence by the current administration, despite the daily prodding and cajoling of the ordinary man on issues –– not least of which has been that of our Speaker of the House –– it begs the question: what would happen if all powers were indeed vested at home? Would a Government-appointed president act “inimically” to the interests of his/her own administration?
Certainly, this has not been our experience with a Governor General, who is representative of the Queen but a creature of the ruling administration. So would it be a case of jumping out of the proverbial frying pan into a fiery furnace? And would we, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, be punished by post-colonial “massas” over our refusal to bow down?
With all due respect to our Prime Minister, we feel this matter is one that should be put to a vote in a referendum. Not simply announced at a DLP branch meeting as a fait accompli to be implemented “very soon”.
It is a pity that Mr Stuart didn’t see the wisdom in using the floor of Parliament during last week’s Estimates Debate to share with us his thoughts on this republican idea –– which on any vote would require a two thirds majority for change –– instead of going on and on about “dizzying millions”, so-called “greedy” policyholders of CLICO and which Opposition MP he had given up for Lent.
Indeed, it would have given MPs like Ronald Toppin something to care about instead of sticking the big toe of his foot in his mouth, and angering journalist Carl Moore by declaring he sees no justification for requiring a child to study English literature, reading Shakespeare and so on.
Certainly, Mr Moore, the St Michael North MP “dost [not] know the difference . . . between a bitter fool and a sweet fool”.
However, Ronald Toppin aside. We look forward to a necessary and meaningful engagement on this very important issue of abolishing the monarchy –– not from the standpoint of any narrow political legacy, but from the greater national perspective of what’s best for our country at this time.
Our forebears expect nothing less. Our children will require more!