I agree with the Hon. Prime Minister that the Minister of Finance has performed his role with tenacity and courage in the face of very difficult economic conditions and brutal attacks from those who have no regard for his intellectual capacity or social pedigree.
It is clear to me that Mr Sinckler, being a product of Deacons, son of working class parents and a graduate of the lowly rated Garrison Secondary School, will never be accepted as a suitable holder of the prestigious office of Finance Minister. In this class and colour conscious society, only those who have attended brand name schools and have middle class status are considered worthy of such a position.
Prior to Mr. Sinckler’s elevation to keeper of the country’s purse strings, Ministers of Finance have all been products of Harrison College, and in the case of Mr David Thompson, Combermere. Moreover, all except Sir Lloyd Sandiford and Mr Owen Arthur had a middle class background. Mr Arthur was most likely “accepted” because he had his sixth form education at Harrison College and is a brilliant economist, but remember how Sir Lloyd was treated; he was too dark, came from humble origins and did not rub shoulders with the white and brown elites.
I well recall the business maguffies meeting and having their chairman call for the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance’s resignation. Sir Lloyd’s pleasing retort was “Massa Day done” and “I was not elected in any Boardroom”. We seem to be at that point again where someone needs to issue the reminder that in Barbados we elect whom we want to run the country. We are accustomed to the carping criticism by those who feel that they are entitled, through colour or class, to wield power, not given to them by the electorate.
What pains me more, though, is that some whose background is similar to that of the representative of St. Michael North West join in the choir chanting abuse at the Finance Minister, just as they did in the case of Sir Lloyd Sandiford.
I do not have to agree with all of Mr. Sinckler’s prescriptions for an ailing economy to respect his efforts. I am sure that he wants the best for Barbados and is not a malevolent creature from some distant land, trying to wreak havoc on our country.
Nobody is suggesting that the Minister’s policies should not be criticised, but there is a huge difference between policy disagreement and ad hominem attacks, ridicule and innuendo. In my view, Chris Sinckler is one of the bright sparks on our political landscape and no amount of unfair attacks can change that.
It is tiresome having to listen to the mouthings of businessmen, who claim to be the greatest patriots around, feigning concern for the poor and vulnerable, but have no difficulty increasing prices of commodities that do not attract NSRL, or hoarding the foreign monies collected in their establishments.
They, along with some economists whose only claim to fame is that they can glibly spout economic theory learnt at Cave Hill, are among the fiercest critics of the Minister of Finance and Prime Minister Stuart. These two servants of the crown can do nothing right or in the interest of Barbadians.
In the case of the Prime Minister, the school he attended is not a problem, but he is too dark and his socio-economic origins disqualify him from holding such a high office. Many attempt to disguise their contempt for his social background by complaining that he does not communicate; does not hold his ministers accountable and does not lead from the front. When he speaks, he uses too many “big” words or is insulting others.
If he travels overseas for whatever reason, he is wasting tax payers money. He simply cannot win. According to his detractors, the country is a rudderless ship, just waiting for a political messiah to save it from running aground. But notice how much criticism he received over the new official car recently purchased. Clearly, that kind of vehicle is too good for someone like Mr Freundel Stuart.
Now, I know that Barbadians have become accustomed to Prime Ministers intervening in every dog fight, so that the very idea of a leader who actually allows his ministers to run their ministries is strange. Nevertheless, we need to learn to respect Mr Stuart’s style. What I can say without fear of contradiction is that Mr Freundel Jerome Stuart, someone I have known from childhood, is a man of integrity with a sharp intellect and one who is committed to the development of Barbados.
This does not mean that I do not think that his effectiveness as a leader can be enhanced by hosting periodic press conferences, especially since he is more than a match for journalists. To suggest, however, that he is a weak leader is to not understand the gentleman.
No doubt I will be labelled a D.L.P “yard fowl” for voicing these comments, but my back is broad and I can take anything, especially from persons I regard as empty vessels. I know who I am, a proud Barbadian with no party affiliation, but one who has carefully studied the history of Barbados and who has the ability to analyse what is happening in my country.
Instead of attacking me, readers would do well to question their motives for ridiculing Messrs Stuart and Sinckler and take a more objective view of the state of Barbadian politics and the economy. What we want are solutions to our problems, not personal attacks. Mr Arthur has started the ball rolling. Who will follow his lead?