Despite the fears, and against all historical odds, Barbadians went to the polls with one intent: to rid themselves of the chains of a debilitating and stifling government.
So much so that they created history and a politically unique and challenging situation. History, in that they now have their first female Prime Minister. History also, which is both politically unique and challenging, in that none of the other parties, old and new, gained a single seat in Parliament.
Barbados’ Prime Minister, Mia Mottley
Mia Amor Mottley, MAM, is a woman leader. She has been Barbados’ first female Leader of the Opposition and first Attorney-General. She is accustomed to leadership.
The challenges are both political and unique.
First, with no elected Opposition in the House of Parliament how is Barbados determined/defined in respect of known political models? Can she define herself or, rather, determine her politics and political meaning?
The new Prime Minister, Mia Mottley (MAM), has sought to address this by “offering” seats to the old administration as the second highest garnerer of overall votes. When this was not taken up she then agreed on one of her own crossing the floor to take on the mantle of Leader of the Opposition.
UNPRECEDENTED and a more than clear sign, given the election results, that Barbados is once again on a new foundation – exploring herself, her people, and her strengths; and her WILL – just as she was at Independence over 50 years ago.
Second, the politics cannot remain the same even as the Constitution is unaltered. Minimal/Cosmetic changes have been made to accommodate or allow for the historic scenario, but the Constitution is inherently the same in spirit and intent.
The POLITICS however must change, and shift to the most open manner of governance and political reporting the island have ever seen or countenanced. This in “normal” circumstances would be considered political suicide. In this historic case it is all but mandatory for our survival as a Nation.
So far, it appears that some movement has been made in this direction, rhetorically if not substantively as yet.
It has been a few days beyond a month since MAM took over however, and she and the ruling party have done many of the customary things that new governments have to do in the first weeks after their installation; they have moreover had to assess their position and that of Barbados given their unique position, and address the consitutional and political needs of the country and act accordingly.
So far, so good. Barbados is still operating as a DEMOCRACY. The model may be a bit skewed, but it is Democratic. It says much for the integrity and love of their country that the 30-0 win on May 24 did not lead Ms. Mottley and her BLP party to assume a manner in keeping with despotism or dictatorship. Dialogue and accountability must be and remain high in their politics and behavior.
Third, the social political atmosphere must be handled delicately and firmly. The challenge is to educate while not appearing to do so. Or, rather, to avoid propaganda.
Social business networks must be (re-)established where the goal is productivity and the broadening of the economic base and support for the “self-employed”. This can only be effective if socio-political climate is positive.
The Government agencies, such as the local television station, must be re-energised by more than just programming. Professional, objective efficient staff with a new vision, and a hope to project Barbados and Barbadians to a high level of accomplishment, should be given the mandate to remind us of who we are: a proud and industrious people.
A valiant people can be led to greatness.
Let’s pray that Barbados will rise to overcome the challenges positively, and that all true Barbadians will once again be ” firm craftsmen of (their) fate.”