We wish to place on record our heartiest congratulations to Prime Minister Mia Mottley and her team on what is an emphatic and undeniable 30-seat victory at the polls.
Based on traditional patterns of voting, no one – not even the victorious Barbados Labour Party (BLP) – expected the unprecedented mandate that was given, in a complete repudiation of the policies and programmes of the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
But even as outgoing Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and his team embark on a much needed process of soul searching to determine their personal futures and that of the country’s second oldest political party, the DLP, we are not about to jump on any unrighteous bandwagon and to start to generously dish out blame, even though there is clearly more than enough to go around, for what is nothing short of a humiliating and embarrassing political defeat.
Not to dismiss the campaign strategy of the BLP, but it is very telling that in a low turnout election in which 60 per cent of the eligible electorate voted – not a single Cabinet minister was able to buck the negative trend and save themselves amid this most spectacular of general election defeats since the island’s achievement of political independence in 1966.
We therefore wait to see who will emerge as the new leader of the DLP in these circumstances, as well as the articulation of a feasible roadmap for rebuilding and reigniting the once mighty political institution that has now been confined to the proverbial wilderness in a digital era in which there is a greater consciousness of the need to communicate without harming the trees.
To Ms Mottley and her gloating supporters we say, celebrate yes, as is natural for anyone who achieves a remarkable feat. However, unfortunately, there is no time for any honeymoon. This Government needs to settle down and settle down fast to the enormous challenge that is before us as a country and to prepare all Barbadians for the undeniable austerity that eagerly awaits our fair land.
We note that one of Ms Mottley’s first orders of business was not to make any further pronouncements as it relates to the promised repeal of the National Social Responsibility Levy and tuition fees for Barbadian students attending the University of the West Indies, nor was it to instantaneously abolish road tax and the like.
Ms Mottley’s first order of business was to reveal a 2017 International Monetary Fund (IMF) report which pretty much confirms what we already knew going into the elections: Our economy is as messy as the sewage situation on the south coast and in need of an urgent fix.
Now is therefore not the time for any extravagant spending, but a further reduction in expenditure as the IMF report itself emphasizes.
In the absence of an official Opposition, Barbados TODAY intends to be the voice of reason, amid the current euphoria, bent on holding our public officials to account, just as was done when the previous Stuart administration was in office.
We therefore eagerly await the outcome of today’s talks with the Social Partners on the immediate actions that must be taken to get our country up and running again and to restore our national position to one of “Pride and Industry” as our motto proclaims.
What that may mean in the short term is that the trade unions and public servants may have to do without promised pay increases for the time being; that pensioners may not get an immediate increase and our new Government may also have to shelve plans for one repeal or another for the good of the majority.
Ms Mottley has our support as she prepares to tackle the myriad of challenges ahead. However, the one caveat is that this must never be to the detriment of our watchdog role, because the line between decimation of the Dees and dictatorship is rather fine.