With the language on the political platform becoming more personal and unpleasant, two members of the clergy are emphasizing the need for a code of conduct to guide the campaign for the upcoming general election, due by the middle of this year.
“I think a code of conduct is extremely important and needed, because at the highest level of leadership in our island we have an example to set. It will be good for us to have something to guide us with our execution of duty and presentation of vision, plans and showing the way forward,” Dr David Durant, the pastor of Restoration Ministries, told Barbados TODAY.
“We should not be dealing with personal stuff. We should be dealing strictly with the business of the country and trying to put things in place and order to carry the nation forward.”
In the latest exchange of personal insults, Barbados Labour Party (BLP) legislator Kerrie Symmonds, the Member of Parliament for St James South, referred to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart as a “rat botsie” while speaking at a BLP political meeting in Checker Hall, St Lucy.
Stuart has since fired back, telling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) supporters at a meeting at Queen’s College that Symmonds was an “incubus”, a word with multiple meanings, some of which are less flattering than others.
Durant, a Government senator, said a code of conduct would help keep such language in check since the politicians would be aware that they were being monitored, forcing them to set a good example for the youth.
“With our youths they should be able to conduct themselves in that wholesome manner when they are put in similar situations. They will have something to look back at and know what they saw in terms of the right things being done and they will want to follow with dignity, respect and compassion,” he stressed, adding that all stakeholders, including the political parties, churches and educators, should contribute to the production of the code.
Back in July 2016 Roman Catholic bishop Jason Gordon called for a code of ethics ahead of the election, to include controls on campaign financing.
“I ask that we the leaders of this society invite all relevant parties, including the political parties, to sign a code of ethics for political conduct during elections, including party financing,” the bishop had told a Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry business luncheon.
“If we as leaders are willing to hold ourselves, the political parties and the electorate accountable to the highest standards, then we will create the conditions of hope in our nation for our people, the next generation and investors,” Gordon had said.
It was a recommendation that went down well with businessman Andrew Bynoe, who said at the same luncheon that the business community should insist that “there should be no vote buying” in the next election.
However, while the newly-formed United Progressive Party and Solutions Barbados have indicated their willingness to sign such a code, both the BLP and the DLP appeared to be lukewarm at best, to the idea.
Following the bishop’s call, DLP General Secretary George Pilgrim had told Barbados TODAY the party had not adopted a policy position on the matter, while his BLP counterpart, Dr Jerome Walcott, had declined comment.
Despite the apparent dismissal of a code by the major parties, Roger Husbands, the pastor of Empowerment International Ministries, said such an agreement was necessary in order to hold election candidates responsible for their words and actions on the political platform.
“I think our politicians need to look at the reality that they are being watched by others. Our level of conduct especially in public has to be one that sets the right example for people, and most importantly, our young people. They must behave in a manner that is suitable to adopt. We need to leave a legacy behind,” Husbands told Barbados TODAY, adding that he was worried that the behaviour of the veteran politicians would discourage the younger generation from participating in elective politics.
“We don’t want to deter the young people from acts of politics. When the older generation is gone we still have the future to look at. I would want to encourage the politicians and those who are pursing politics to conduct themselves in a moral manner so that at the end of the day we have simple politics and not people fighting against each other,” he said.