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Barbados Prime Minister Unwell

21 Jul

PM David Thompson

Illness is a very sensitive subject and Barbadians are caught in no-man’s land on the subject of the ill-health of the current Prime Minister of Barbados, the Honourable David Thompson. To the best of our knowledge there has been no other Prime Minister that has had to take “sick leave”. It is clear that a protocol needs to be established for the future.

The current protocol seems to be that the Prime Minister need not disclose the severity or the nature of his illness to anyone. In many other jurisdictions this would not be tolerated, not because people are “malicious” but that the illness of the Prime Minister can have an impact on governance. It could lead to a certain degree of uncertainty. The only legitimate response seems to be prayer. Some Barbadians have expressed the strong view that the Prime Minister’s health is his business.

Take for example, this call for a budget. If the Prime Minister is to be back at his desk should the Acting Prime Minister seek to put a Budget in place? Yes we know that Prime Minister Thompson seems to have granted Acting Prime Minister Stuart the power to do all manner of things (It is doubtful whether this is legitimate); but this could be a matter than in the view of the Mr. Stuart could very well await his return.

Prime Minister Thompson’s projections of returning in two months have not put a stop to the speculation as to who might take over the leadership of the Democratic Labour Party. There are no clear choices except Mr. Stuart by default. Some would argue that this leads to a certain degree of uncertainty in the Government.

We know that in the United States that the Public would insist on their right to know as we saw during their last election campaign. The USA however is not the best example for many things. Their politics is often akin to an extreme sport.

There is always a view that the Public has the right to know on smaller matters. Does the Public have the right to know on this most important matter?

Manning Outsmarted

25 Jun

Well that is the only conclusion that one could come to. Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar is the new Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago, despite all of the talk about not wanting a coalition government. It is the plight of every successful politician to read his hand badly, but maybe just like Gordon Brown his loss was inevitable. Even from Manning’s own supporters we had heard “too little too late”. Mrs. Bissessar’s win has raised discussions about women in politics and whether Barbados is ready for a female Prime Minister. This is perhaps the same question being raised by Jamaica. But was it so much about her gender as a about someone who the electorate felt embodied the qualities of a new leader? Given the political landscape at the moment Barbadians are becoming more comfortable with female candidates. They will be just as comfortable with a female Prime Minister when the time comes! Congratulations to Mrs. Bissessar.

The UK Election Debate – hear about immigration

21 Apr

All three parties agreed that there was need for political reform. The one aspect that they seemed to agree on was the right of the people to recall MPs that are corrupt. In addition Labour emphasised the reform of the House of Lords where there would be an elected House and there would be no more hereditary peers. The Conservatives seemed to be more concerned with cutting MP’s salaries as well as the number of MPs. The Lib Dems seemed to be particularly concerned with party funding and cutting the cost of politics. These are all issues that are real to the Barbados electorate as well.

Should Barbadian citizens abroad vote in Barbados?

7 Apr

This is the question that is now being raised and it would be useful to get some early views on this topic. What is currently the situation? individuals who live abroad, have an ID card and can find their name on the voters’ list have been voting for years in the Barbados elections. One might argue that this is really a minority of individuals. There is then a further point, what happens in situations where political parties are prepared to incur the costs of ensuring that citizens that live abroad are registered and are prepared to foot the bill for them to return to Barbados. Now spending that some of money on one elector would immediately find the particular candidate in breach of the law.

It would seem that Commonwealth Citizens resident in Barbados have the right to vote within Barbados. Hence the argument might be that Citizens living abroad are in a comparable situation and that their voting from abroad should be allowed. The argument is also made that these individuals have property and family interests in Barbados and therefore should have a right to say what should happen in the management of the country.

The argument against such a move would be (depending on how citizenship is defined for these purposes) that there are perhaps more people who can claim citizenship live outside of Barbados rather than inside Barbados. Even if this is not the case, should an individual have the benefit of voting but not have the burden of living with his choice if it turns out to be a bad one?

The cost of running elections has become more and more expensive. While we still adhere to the notion that any man or woman, rich or poor can stand in a general election; that many or woman has to have the ability to raise funds by some means or another. If this is then extended to campaigning abroad the democratic ideal of having any deserving person stand would certainly no longer apply.

There are also those who have first hand knowledge of at least one CARICOM country that failed in trying to implement overseas voting as it was riddled with complaints of irregularities. This is an important question if it is ever put to Barbadians. Now is the time to start considering it carefully.