Game of thrones – Barbados edition
Cue the haunting music, Season 8 of the popular Game of Thrones is about to start, wait I mean the Barbadian edition and it is set to reach its climax in the first quarter of 2018, perhaps.
The prize is not the Iron Throne, but the control of the edifice known as Government Headquarters. The contest has been sporadic over the last few years, tinged with a few shows of force on issues of taxation, primarily, but the real battle for the ‘seat of power’ will start just after the Christmas season ends, so get ready!
This election will be very different. Two traditional families or parties will contest the main battle, fielding 30 generals in each territory or constituency with close contests expected. Also some groups, primarily composed of disaffected former members of the Opposing forces have emerged to complicate the battle for the primary challengers.
At the head of the fight will be a leader who has finally secured the right to challenge for the top spot. This after serving as deputy to the most recent occupant of the ‘seat of power’, when that family earned the right to run the affairs of the kingdom/country of Barbados. The challenger has been vocal about the perceived failures of the current family/party in charge and will now be tasked with actually presenting a vision and plan to deal with the challenges which the kingdom/country faces, based on her stated viewpoints.
What will be interesting is if the media will actually do its job and ask how this promised turn-around will be achieved? Will this challenger take the ‘no new taxes pledge’? Will the challenger declare to the public, if her party/family has plans to privatise state assets to fund this promised turnaround and if so, was criticism levelled that this Government proposing to sell state assets would amount to a ‘one time’ influx of revenue, simply the same policy but from different parties?
Will the media ask the challenger, how will UWI funding be restored, as promised? Will the challenger explain, how can UWI be prioritised, when this island has a varied array of tertiary education options? How will the deficit be addressed? Will civil servants be retained in current numbers? Confidence has been a much-used word, but how will it be restored? Whose confidence is being referenced?
Will issues related to the funding of health care, include what is the plan for the QEH and how it must be addressed? In terms of sanitation, can this island afford to simply build dumps to hold garbage? Since the party was against Cahill, what is your alternative? What about private sector calls for draconian cuts in the Civil service and union calls for major salary increases? There has been radio silence on the issue from the challenger. The time for dancing around the subjects is over!
The challenger will have to tackle a wily, often under-estimated incumbent who has tremendous political acumen. He has been the source of tremendous abuse on local call-in shows and in certain sections of the media, but is still standing. He has survived with 16 members out of the 30 member Lower House, but has not lost a vote; yet the Opposition has lost two members, who have both changed to Independents, in different circumstances.
He moves around very assured and confident and has not been drawn into Opposition attempts to set the agenda for him. Government will have to answer for its time in office. The battle will centre around if Government can maintain its support, because if it does, this election will be very competitive.
So if we look at the country as kingdoms, the fight becomes very interesting. St. Michael holds the key, as does Christ Church. In this space, I asked readers to pay attention to the issues which are raised in sections of the press related to certain Ministries. Look at the issues related to the upcoming fight for the ‘seat of power’.
Issues related to the Environment, Sanitation and Drainage fall at the feet of Christ Church M.P., Dr. Denis Lowe, who has been in a verbal battle in Parliament with the challenger. His challenger has called for him to resign over issues related to garbage collection.
Minister of Health John Boyce, the Christ Church South M.P. has faced backlash over issues related to the South Coast Sewage Project and overflows which impacted the Hastings/Rendevous area two weekends ago, when a trough system delivered significant rainfall within an hour. Watch the cues, carefully. Watch the ‘criticisms’.
Much of the same is expected in St. Michael. Incumbent Ministers include Minister of Finance, Chris Sinckler in St. Michael North West – long a DLP stronghold, then St. Michael Central with Steve Blackett as Social Care Minister, St. Michael South Central with Tourism Minister, Richard Sealy and St. Michael South with incumbent leader and Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
The problem which the challenger faces is that her southeast/west flank in St. Michael is vulnerable. From City of Bridgetown, to St. Michael South East, St. Michael East all represent areas which the DLP can win.
With a rematch set in St. George South between Labour Minister and incumbent Dwight Sutherland looking competitive. A politically energetic and visible Minister is a formidable threat to regain the seat. St. James Central has always been a swing seat so the optimism which is pouring from the challenger is puzzling, but if you continue to under-estimate the incumbent, then the Iron Throne will not fall.
The hand to hand combat will be intense as the real battle approaches. The Great War is here.