Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today.
by Dr Derek Alleyne
Listening to Floyd Reifer tell the crowd at Market Hill recently that “no matter the attacks and tactics of the BLP, they will not break me” was touching but struck a nerve as it signalled the growing tendency of politicians to resort to bullying.
Most articles addressing the topic of bullying focus on the phenomenon in schools, but increasingly, attention is being paid to bullying in politics.
Sherri Gordon in an article How the Bullying Tactics Politicians Use Affect Kids argues that “rather than learning to treat others with respect and dignity, children are observing the nation’s top political leaders engaging in the very bullying
tactics that kids at school use to climb
the social ladder”.
At every stage and in most decisions, the Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Amor Mottley’s behaviour seemingly reflects Gordon’s concern.
It is unfortunate, in my view, that the warning given by the late former prime minister Professor Owen Arthur about the despotic tendencies of MAM was not taken to heart. That Barbadians are now recognising and wincing at the extent of dictatorial and bullying-like tendencies may be in keeping with the monkey-tail saying about the higher he climbs, the more one sees, but it also speaks to our gullibility as a people.
The late Owen Arthur did not wake up one morning and arrive at his assessment of MAM or as some BLPs now, in his absence, would have us believe.
It was made out of selfishness. It was discerned after Arthur placed Mottley in his cabinet for 15 years across the ministries of Education and Youth Affairs, Attorney General and Home Affairs, and her last posting to Social Care responsible for the Urban Development Commission.
In all her portfolios her bullying style was obvious and her disregard for rules and standards was documented by the concerns raised by either the Auditor General’s Office and in the case of UDC, by the Parliamentary Accounts Committee.
It is clear that as Prime Minister ALL decisions made at the parliamentary level in Barbados are made by Mottley with the usual retort to any opposite view – “noted”.
The decision to call a by-election was made by Mottley and relayed to the rest of the parliamentary group.
The selection of a candidate was made by Mottley and imposed on St. George North. Now, Mottley has decided that the political parties MUST debate the state of Barbados’s economy and society without consultation.
All of a sudden, Mottley has recognized that parties outside the BLP exist. But when she selected her COVID-19 committees, she and she alone selected who would be included. Apparently, the parties had no concerns, were incapable of offering suggestions and most of all, were not fit to sit at her table. Now they fit her bill.
To the party or parties agreeing to participate in Mottley’s latest charade, I say unfortunate, but to those opting out I say congratulations on your stand against bullying and against a bully.
Mottley’s repeated reference to Floyd Reifer is in consonance with Gordon, who explained, “The politicians themselves have a lot to say about the people they are running against. And most of it is not very nice.
In fact, a lot of it is downright mean.” Gordon warns that “kids tend to use political statements or sentiments and repeat them at school, using them as weapons to harass and wound other students.”
Gordon urged that, “When kids see our nation’s leaders bullying others, whether it is on television or online, they grow up thinking that this is an acceptable way to treat others, especially if they want to get to the top someday.”
There also are some unintended consequences of election bullying. Mottley and her team could well take time and read Sherri Gordon’s article.
The truth is, it may not matter because they have so grown accustomed to bullying that they may not recognize it.
Dr Derek Alleyne is a trade unionist, social commentator, and a member of the Democratic Labour Party.