The Barbados Labour Party Blog made a few good points last Saturday – but one point (we are sure) was completely unintended… Citizens of Barbados are routinely denied even basic information about daily Legislative activities because the government is more comfortable operating without public transparency.
Transparency equals accountability, and we all know that Prime Minister Arthur won’t be having any of that nonsense, thank you!
Here is our brief analysis of the BLP Blog article Politics of Complacency…
The article alleges*…
1/ The DLP is Divided
2/ The DLP is Not Ready To Govern
3/ DLP Members are Habitually Late and/or Absent from the Legislature.
How Are Citizens To Know Who Is Absent Or Late For The Legislature?
The BLP Blog charges that members of the Opposition are habitually late or absent for Legislative sittings, and that they arrive unprepared.
While that may or may not be the case, it is true that ordinary citizens have no method of confirming the attendance of elected representatives.
Why should this be? We are routinely denied even the most basic information about Legislative activities – despite the fact that the technology to bring transparency to the Legislature has existed for over a decade. The government could publish each day’s attendance on the internet if it chose to – but it does not, so how are we to know which members are habitually late or absent?
Transcripts of debates are often not available for six or seven MONTHS, so how are we to know who is prepared for debate and who is not?
The government is content to make claims about what is going on in the Legislature, yet refuses to put in place those simple mechanisms that would allow citizens to have first-hand knowledge of their elected representatives and their activities.
This is not rocket science. Even a first year computer student could set up a camera and microphones to live broadcast all parliamentary and committee debates on the internet. Many governments routinely post transcripts of debates online, and even stream live broadcasts of the nation’s business – not only in debates, but also in committee meetings. As an example, check out the website of the Parliament of Canada here.
If the Barbados Labour Party wants to complain about poor attendance by members of the Opposition – that is just fine with us. But for the government to complain about Opposition attendance and then not post the records for all members is dishonest.
We call upon the Government of Barbados to immediately do the following…
1/ Publish on the internet for all to see, attendance records for all members for the past two years, and then update the online record weekly.
2/ Publish on the internet for all to see, transcripts of debates for the past two years, and then continue to place previous years’ archives on the internet for the last ten years.
3/ Direct that transcripts of all new debates and business be finished and posted online within a week of the date recorded.
4/ Broadcast debates and other legislative business live on the internet at the time they are happening, and also put archival broadcast files on the internet for all to see.
5/ Publish legislative and debates schedules in advance on the internet so that interested citizens might observe the business of the nation.
We demand transparency and accountability from all our elected representatives – both government and opposition. We grow tired of an elitist elected body that hides behind closed doors – when simple technologies would allow citizens to know on a timely basis what is happening with the running their own nation.
* Note: As with any summary, it is important to see the original context. We urge our readers to follow the BLP Blog link and to read the original BLP article for themselves.
Also… (can’t help it!)…
We note that the June 24, 2006 BLP Blog article ends with the phrase “Stay tuned Barbadians”.
Marcus points out that the phrase “Stay tuned” has been part of his writing style for years, and can be found in two BFP articles in June alone – “Barbados Free Press Takes Advice From Rupert Murdock“ (June 23, 2006) and “Piggies in Barbados: Readers Hammer BLP Blog For Misleading Partial Quote” (June 11, 2006).
Marcus is pleased that the BLP Blog thinks so much of his wordsmithing. Plagiarism is the most sincere form of compliment.