Haunted by the events in North Africa and the Middle East: The DLP creates an Illusion

Opinion from Henderson N. Bovell - Social Commentator & Analyst

When the ruling DLP held a retreat on Sunday 27th February 2011, many felt it was to plan strategy for the up-coming General Election. I disagree!

I think the issue on the Government mind is the up-coming Estimates and what it can cut to impress the IMF and Standard & Poor’s but without shooting itself in the foot politically. Also on the DLP’s mind, would be what is happening in places like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya and despite town hall meetings on the cost of living, it knows that it has Constituency Councils at its disposal, as well as some $38 million to spend, following the passage of Hurricane Tomas.

It would not have escaped the DLP that in the last Nation News/Wickham Poll – Cost of living, employment and the economy were the issues Barbadians were most concerned about. Crime came in fifth but a lot has happened since.

"The DLP would have got the message when young people said enough! Hence the DLP’s fear, as regards Egypt, Tunisia and Libya."

And while Housing was fourth, in term of priority for Barbadians, the people of this country are not be smiling, knowing that a number of houses built by the DLP are still off limits to them. The bottom line is that the DLP did not just go to a Retreat; it is a Government under pressure and in permanent Retreat. It launched a Youth Manifesto but after forming the Government – told university student that it will not be able to find jobs for them. To add insult to injury, it tried to implement changes at the UWI (again which would negatively impact young people) without appropriate conversation. The DLP would have got the message when young people said enough! Hence the DLP’s fear, as regards Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

"Also on the DLP’s mind, would be what is happening in places like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya and despite town hall meetings on the cost of living, it knows that it has Constituency Councils at its disposal, as well as some $38 million to spend, following the passage of Hurricane Tomas."

It is, however, understandable why the DLP would want to sound up-beat and positive at this time, especially after just announcing that the economy is coming out of recession (o.3% growth/margin of error) and given the fact that it seems to be getting some to buy-into its propaganda that the high deficit it is running, is to keep people employed. But there are serious issues like public sector wages, government guarantees; supplementaries and rising debt – that one would expect would create concern for any Government that knows what it is doing. If the DLP is not bothered, then there has to be a reason why.

The Retreat was just an illusion to give the impression that the DLP is organised; united, in charge and knows what it is doing. That could hardly be true because the DLP has already made it known that it prefers to: “wait and see.” Still, Barbadians (the majority of who) are not likely to have access to the “fatted calf,” must brace themselves. With the Annual Estimates weeks away, the DLP is more than likely to bring-out a chainsaw, when a scalpel should be the instrument of choice.

But that is hardly the worst that can happen in politics. Over in Libya, its leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is today telling the world that there is absolutely no evidence in that country of unrest and that ALL the people there love him. Here is Barbados, the DLP too – is of the view that everyone in this country is happy with its “wait and see” ‘governance by delay,’ (including consumers; public servants and those BARP members who still cannot get their money out of Clico) and that if an election is called, it would be re-elected.

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