Well most of you wont care about this one way or the other but .......
Over the past few weeks there has been a bit of political turmoil going on in Barbados. No we didn't have any uprising, or coup or civil insurrection or anything of the nature but Clyde Mascoll, the leader of the opposition DLP party resigned his post and then promptly joined the ruling party.
Now it is not a strange proceeding in these days to see members of parliament in various countries (even Canada) switch sides but the leader of the opposition, the top dog, the man in charge of the opposition switching sides? That's pretty much unheard of in my opinion.
Anyway I'm all the way over here in the T.dot so I'm sure I don't have the inside scoop on what actually happened but from reports it appears that Mr Mascoll was about to face a vote of no confidence from his troops in Parliament and before that move could be orchestrated he resigned and promptly switched sides.
Now initially I must say that I was very much in favor of his resignation because it appeared as though he was being bullied by others in his own party out of the top spot. Former Opposition leader David Thompson who stepped down after leading the DLP to another election loss in 1999 was coming back for the position as leader of the Opposition. It seemed a bit unfair to me because Thompson had taken his leave when things seemed at their worse leaving the rebuilding task to Mascoll. Mascoll rallied the troops won a few more seats in the last election and seemed to have the party on an upward swing and now here he was getting the shaft when things started to look a bit brighter. It was sort of like a dude who ditches the wife who saw him through the hard times to pick up with some new lady once things were getting better (and yes I'll resist the opportunity to quote Kayne's Golddigger here).
Still regardless of the situation what is disturbing here, from my exiled perspective, is that the opposition in Barbados has become a toothless opponent for the ruling party.
In order for democracy to work effectively one needs an effective opposition and I believe that Barbados has been without one for quite some time now.
Over the years, Prime Minister Arthur has initiated quite a brilliant coup on his part as his favored 'politics of inclusion' has seen his enemies drawn to his side, putting down their barbs and attacks and joining his party. This has left us with no strong voices in opposition. In true West Indian statesman form Arthur also appears to have the force of character and the charisma of a Barrow, Adams, Manley or Eric Williams which seems to have endeared him to the local populace and in fact some voters vote for his party simply because he is the leader. Arthur's mere presence as BLP head honcho has ensured votes and seats in the house of Parliament for his candidates.
The DLP on the other hand lacks a man of Arthur's standing it appears. Many said they couldn't see Mascoll leading the country so they are glad to see him go. His replacement Thompson was the former golden boy of the party but his election results left his image tarnished and one wonders if he can regain his former luster.
This opposition has lacked effective leadership, with power struggles erupting at some of the most inopportune times. Where they might have the opportunity to shore up their support and capitalize on the government's missteps instead they have become bogged down by ineffectiveness, argument and controversy amongst their ranks not putting up a united front with the small number of members they have in parliament. That's pretty sad because with their strength absent it really doesn't leave the average bajan with much choice at the polls. The country is fast becoming a one party state.
From the inception of Arthur's reign back in the mid 90s promising opposition members like Kerry Simmonds and Hamilton Lashley amongst others have crossed the floor to be at Mr Arthur's side and one wonders how the opposition DLP will handle another prominent defection.
Not that I'm complaining about the job which Mr Arthur is doing in Barbados. I'm neither yea or nay on that and will leave that to the Bajan based to analyze as I really haven't lived in Barbados under his regime that much and I feel myself unqualified to judge his accomplishments. Still he has been in power over 10 years now so that must say something for his achievements although maybe it just says as much for the weak opposition he faces.
Now a third party has entered the fray recently which might actually be a good thing as it appears that the opposition DLP, founded back in the day by Barbados' father of Independence Errol Barrow is pretty much a spent force. One even wonders if they are indeed capable of governing the country in the unlikely event they should be elected.
Another issue is that all of these defections to the ruling party really does nothing to enhance the views of politicians in the eyes of the public. Ok maybe they all aren't money hungry, power starved, looking out for # 1 types but that's the impression that one gets when the floor is crossed so regularly. What happened to loyalty, what happened to standing for something? One day you are regularly cursing the other party, their members, their policies and their principals and the next you are embracing and being embraced by those same former political enemies? (And mind you I am not naive enough to think that political enemies cannot be actual friends in reality) That just doesn't sit right with me. Pure poli-tricks that.
And there is no need to say well what do you expect they are after all politicians. However the action of defection just affects the general populace, especially the youth, and leaves them not really caring as they come to the belief that all are birds of a feather and that the seeming ideological gaps between party manifestos and principals is no longer an actual gap since one can so easily jump ship.
Maybe I'm wrong here. Maybe its just that politicians can change policy and what they stand for at the drop of a dime. Whatever it is it affects the voters when they realize that their choices at the polls really aren't so much a choice as they would. No wonder voter turnouts are so low the world over these days.