Journalist Peter Wickham Banned From Nation News – So We’ll Print His Article Here

Regrettably I have to confirm that for the first time since my Grandfather Clennell Wickham started writing People and Things in the 1940s, this article has been unilaterally suspended by the Newspaper that agreed to host it. Clearly, my perspective on this occasion is very different to that which I offered during the 1999 and 2003 elections. I am therefore grateful to BU and to BFP for carrying this review of the politics of inclusion which is yet to see the light of day”.

THE POLITICS OF INCLUSION REVISITED

The Sunday Sun of January 3rd 1999 presented an article entitled “The New Politics of Inclusion” which sought to critique an apparent “programme” of the Arthur administration which was apparently intended to allow for greater participation in the governance of our country. This article took the position that the politics of inclusion represented a development that was not only good but absolutely necessary for the proper development of a country like Barbados which is both small and resource deficient.

This perspective was, however, a theoretical argument which assumed much about this programme of inclusion which this author presumed would take democracy beyond the right to vote in elections and allow Barbadians the opportunity to play a role in a government that is open, accountable and participatory.

The BLP fought and won the 1999 election and created history in the process. The bumper harvest of seats in that election was no-doubt assisted considerably by this programme of inclusion, which can now be reviewed against objectives which were both political and developmental. This review is concerned more with the delivery of developmental objectives, however, since the 1999 article is used
as a base and it concluded that:

”The politics of inclusion is worthy of consideration, so long as it can be identified as a derivation of “participatory democracy”. The nature of participatory democracy is such that is can easily be confused with a programme of overtly political patronage and the use of public funds to advance a political cause. A fine line separates the two; hence it is essential that either party adopting such a programme give it the fullest possible expression so that the objectives of the programme are clearly a contribution to national development”.

Needless to say, very little has been forthcoming from the Arthur administration regarding the philosophical and developmental objectives of the politics of inclusion, hence it is difficult not to conclude that it has been a crass programme of political patronage, that had nothing to do with development. The programme targeted “progressive” elements of Civil Society as well as political operatives; however in virtually every case there has been a direct political benefit, while an objective assessment of our system of governance now does not reveal any obvious contributions to the enhancement of democracy.

In a contribution that was perhaps ill-advised, Mr. David Commissiong who was one of the beneficiaries of that programme, indicated that he was “offered a ministry” in the Arthur administration in return for his support and that of the “Pan African Brigade” and while the PM has stated categorically that he did not make such an offer, it is clear that some discussion of options took place with agents of the PM who might or might not have been acting on his instructions. As a result Commissiong was able to negotiate the establishment of the Pan African Commission and a directorship for himself. The extent to which this commission has contributed to the development of Barbados is questionable, however the expenditure of three million dollars annually on its activities is not in question. Moreover it is a fact that the Commission has allowed the BLP to embrace “left leaning” characters such as Dr. Michael Hutchinson, Dr George Belle and Commisiong himself.

This component of the politics of inclusion programme is instructive since it provides evidence of the manner in which political commodities were traded and moreover we are now able to reflect on the extent to which these trades benefited the BLP’s politics, but not the development of this country. It was important that the BLP capture this “ideological bias” that the Pan African Commission represented since the BLP has always struggled to occupy that political space that is left of centre and consistent with its socialist philosophy. The DLP has traditionally been considered the more progressive of the two parties and as a result personalities like those associated with the Pan African Commission were always assumed to be Dems. The programme of inclusion successfully changed that perception overnight and added the philosophical dimension to the practical politics of attracting DLP politicians to cross the floor.

In almost all instances those who were “included” have lost their independence and become BLP apologists and in virtually every case these apologists have been rewarded in some way at the public’s expense. As a result the list of consultants attached to the office of the Prime Minister and indeed several other government agencies has grown exponentially and if the PM were to be brave enough to respond to Parliamentary question tabled in the last term requesting such information, then we would be in a position to know exactly who these consultants are, what they do (if anything) and how much of our money these people are paid.

As one reflects on the last three BLP terms, one struggles to identify the fundamental improvements in our governance that this inclusion has brought. The net size and expenditure of the central government has grown and this government has successfully executed some projects, however several of these have been poorly managed which speaks volumes about the extent to which government’s capacity has been enhanced. Moreover there are several governmental deficiencies that are yet to be touched by this intellectually enriched administration. As a result, we still do not have anything resembling integrity legislation in Barbados and our public service is still able to withhold information from taxpayers that was collected using taxpayer’s money. Certainly these two governmental innovations have been installed in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago without a politics of inclusion and in this author’s opinion the transparency offered by these initiatives is considerably more beneficial to governance and far less demanding on the public purse.

It is doubtful that a thorough reflection on the politics of inclusion will ever be written and this is unfortunate since it would be nice to hear some beneficiary of the programme speak to its benefits and attempt to convince us that it was not a crass vote buying exercise. It would also be interesting to see a comprehensive analysis of the extent to which this programme might have impacted negatively on our development in a way that goes beyond its enormous cost. Certainly if we accept that the opinions previously offered by persons like Commissiong were useful to democracy in Barbados, then any attempt to bring such persons under a party whip should be viewed contemptuously.

Peter W. Wickham (Wickham@sunbeach.net) is a political consultant and a director of Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES).

This article will be included in our next print edition.

For the story as to why and how journalist Peter Wickham was banned from the Nation News, check out Barbados Underground’s post Peter Wickham’s Articles Banned By The Nation Newspaper

18 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

18 responses to “Journalist Peter Wickham Banned From Nation News – So We’ll Print His Article Here

  1. lol this kinda stuff is and will always be hidden to the masses in bim, i myself wrote the nation three letters already and it seems like i email them to myself after i followed the directions from some, example adonijah, but his directions led me to post such emails to deaf ears or blind eyes i should say.

    have you people ever heard of a department in the rbpf which goes by the name “bit”

    well just as something happen they tend to direct the media on how to relay information believe it or not, its no doubt that the nation, cbc and some other journalist and media persons are not controlled remotely by the govt.

    its only a matter of time for the batteries to run out.

  2. Sargeant

    Can’t find anything wrong with this article. If the Nation has a problem with the political content why couldn’t they print it with a disclaimer i.e ” the views are the author’s not the management of the Nation etc….” It mirrors the articles that Ezra Alleyne writes critical of Thompson and the DLP. Next thing they’ll ban Lowdown and Lickmout Lou as their articles have some political content critical of Arthur and the BLP. Barbados aspires to “First World ” status but actions like this puts it firmly in the Third World (Banana Republic section).

  3. Lady Anon

    With the Nation choosing not to publish this article, it just confirms what we knew already. It is just a mouthpiece for the BLP. Some of the tripe published by Clyde Griffith and Ezra Alleyne in no way matches the thoroughness and the clarity which Mr. Wickham presents.

    In refusing the publish the article, the Nation has effectively labelled Mr. Wickham as being with the “other side” although he has categorically stated that he is with neither party.

    Oh, well. More to come over the next two weeks.

  4. The article speaks to the one thing that has kept the appearance of the BLP as a united party which it is not. The hold on power is the one thing that sustains the politics of inclusion, without all of the Consultants and senators will be found wanting and in need.

    ……We need to fucus on it, and it will help us understand why they are so many Ministers of state, so many BLP candidates that are current consultants, and senators, and others who got position in departments of government and government agencies.

    Adrian Hinds
    November 24, 2007 at 8:48 pm
    The politics of inclusion:

    Let us look at this phenomenon. What are its strengths? What are its weaknesses? The reason why I am attempting to look at this Owen Arthur creation is that like all other things under the sun, there will be a time to live, and flourish, and a time of death and withering away. As I cast mine eyes back to the most recent turmoil in the ranks of the DLP, all the disgruntle folks, who eventually left, and went over to the BLP, had initially join the DLP on their own volition. Crossing over to the BLP happened at a time of plenty in that camp; I think it is safe to say, that the pensions, placements, and patronage, that a PM has, and can dish out, is the real glue, the cement that keeps the recipients of the politics of inclusion in place with the existing members. What can happen in the absence of the power and access or the thing that makes real, the promises of said pensions, placements, and patronage is that their is nothing independent of power that can keep the New BLPites and the true true Bees in a tandem of mutuality. I think that in addition to the fear of prosecution and public embarrassment similar to what is occurring in Jamaica, the eminent fallout of theses oil and water BLPites is by far more disconcerting to Owen for his legacy. That legacy, should he not retain power and thus the ability to keep the heat and fire away from this powder keg of disunity is certain and of concern to him.

    The politics of inclusion is not a BLP party initiated phenomenon, it is an Owen Arthur creation, if he is no longer in a position to sustain it, can it survive on its own?

  5. Yardbroom

    This incident proves, if proof was necessary, that you have freedom, but that freedom is governed by you writing or saying what they the Government agree with.

    If anyone believes, this election is simply about who will govern Barbados for the next few years – they are mistaken. It is about more than that, and those who think otherwise, should get a grip of reality.

    I believe this election, is about the foundation of our society, and the ramifications of the result, will either ensure we have a free society, or we cower in fear.

    There are those who say, I will have nothing to do with politics, it does not affect me – a right which is theirs, and they are entitled to have. I feel that opinion is misguided, from the time you step on the public road on leaving your house, you have entered the political arena. The road on which you step or drive, funds for its construction were allocated by politicians. Of course you can be be a participant observer, but you are a “participant” just the same.

    In this election, forces like a tiger stalk our alleys, hitherto they were hidden away, in gullies, thick bush and beyond the seas of our shores. Now embolden they have come among us. The tethered black-belly sheep, accustomed to the solitude and quiet of our green pastures, will quake in fear, as what we hold dear is about to be ravished.

    On the morning of the 16th January 2008, when you hold the hands of your children, as you take them to school, or look them in the eye before breakfast. I hope you can say to them, I did the best for you and the Country, you and your children will grow up in, a peaceful Barbados.

    Unless we bring back honesty, decency, moral values and a free society, as a people we will be nothing.

  6. BFP

    Yardbroom says “Unless we bring back honesty, decency, moral values and a free society, as a people we will be nothing.”

    But how are we to bring back these values through the election process when the only viable alternative – the DLP – refused to embrace integrity issues for the last 2 years and is now going to bring out some last minute “promises” a few days before the vote?

    There is no sincerity or leadership on integrity issues by Thompson and the DLP. They ask us to trust them once again when they have been generally a silent and ineffective opposition. They supported the government’s constitutional tampering and remain silent on so many many issues up until a few weeks before the election call.

    The Hardwood scandal was just a piece of luck for the DLP when an insider came to them with documents, and the DLP used it opportunistically.

    The DLP should have been talking about nothing else but integrity, corruption, conflicts of interest, freedom of information for the last 2 years. They should have had their own conflict of interest standards already in place.

    Now we are being asked to hold our noses and vote DLP when the truth is there is not a lick of difference between the two parties. Just two different piggy gangs.

  7. reality check

    Peter Wickham

    well written and thoughtful letter

    after the BLP steals the next election, get ready for the tax audits, suprise health inspections etc. You have crossed the line and dared to have an opinion that wasn’t sanctioned by our comrades. This has become the politics of buying ones silence with the public purse.

  8. Tony

    This article by Peter Wickham was well written. When Peter Wickham predicted in 1999 and 2003 that the BLP was going to win the elections easily everything was fine but as soon as he said that there was likely to be a swing against the gov’t his credibility has come into question by people like Tony Best who sounded so sick yesterday on Brass Tacks. I felt like I wanted to puke when I heard him. I think the Nation should do the honourable thing by pulling the columns of Clyde Griffith and Ezra Alleyne, but that would seem unlikely because I don’t think that organisation understands the meaning of “honourable”.

  9. Brutus

    My understanding of what Wickham said on Brass Tacks Sunday is that the Nation was pulling all of the political columns.

  10. Wishing in Vain

    I would like to wish one and all a Happy and Healthy 2008.
    FREE OF A DICTATORSHIP
    FREE TO SPEAK OUR MINDS
    FREE TO ASSOCIATE WITH WHO WE CHOOSE TO ASSOCIATE WITH.
    I ASK EACH OF YOU TO DO THE RIGHT THING ON THE 15 th AND BY SAYING THAT I MEAN TO VOTE FROM 6.00 am to 6.00 pm FOR THE DLP VOTE DLP ALL THE WAY DLP.

  11. Paradox

    WIV,
    You are WIV!
    Most clear thinking individuals of voting age are perhaps wishing, as in your article.

    BFP,I totally agree with your article above.

    ‘Believing the majority are fed up and wants to see change’, is not good enough.

    The BLP will return. The DEMS must blame itself and the public should not forgive them.

    I’ll say again, Barbados is in need of a THIRD PARTY

    I detected a fear amongst many moderate and fair minded people. Those intelligent observers who wish to report/inform are met with a ‘warning shot across the bow’.
    Mr. Wickham is the latest.

    Bajans, you watch out; freedom of expression is in its final moment.
    A controlled media, frightened educated individuals.

    Future?

  12. Rumplestilskin

    ”the Nation was pulling all of the political columns.”

    What? But all major worldwide papers have political columns!

    Certainly looks like control of the media and especially such a move just two weeks before an election, thus limiting discussion.

    But as we all know the Nation is controlled by BLP seniors.

    This is a MAJOR chance for the Advocate to regain lost ground and become Number 1 again, by signing all of these, BUT again, the Advocate is run by an Arthur supporter.

    Remember MIA’ statement that blogs ‘marginalise Parliament’?

    What a load of rubbish.

    Any attempt to challenge the rights of blogs to operate is a direct attack on our right under the Constitution of Barbados to ‘freedom of association’.

    Even though our association here is in a ‘virtual realm’ it is nevertheless a meeting in form and substance, similar to associating at a street corner or rumshop and discussing politics.

    Is that right to be taken away if the BLP manage to obtain a fourth term. I worry that it will be challenged, as the intention has already been stated by such a senior party member as MIA.

    As others here, no longer am I just worried about mis-management and overruns, now I am worried about freedoms under our Constitution and the short-circuiting of those rights by cleverly disguised, or even outright, action by a few power-hungry persons backed by a few wealthy individuals.

    Because of the above, in all conscience there is only one way to vote come January 15, 2008.

    I wish Team Thompson best wishes and Godspeed.

    Here in cyberland, We shall continue to work for the best of Barbados.

    Peace.

  13. Wry Mongoose

    What we need in Barbados is the emergence of a Green Party, which would (at a minimum) place environmental issues squarely on the B/DLP agendas.

    To succeed in the Bajan context, a Green Party manifesto would have to have to cast a net that includes health issues, womens issues, the rights of the disabled, etc. – for which there is precedent where these parties exist overseas.

    Greens could advocate for social development without the divisiveness and racial baggage of the PEP – and might well be embraced by the typically large ‘undecided’ faction in local elections …

  14. All of these initiatives are meaningless on entering our parliament. A majority of one having the most combine support, will get to exercise ALL of the power in the Country. Do you not understand this ? So unless your Green party has the most seats in parliament their contribution will not affect anything. At the end of the day in parliament the Speaker will still say “I think the I’s have it” and their laws and acts and resolutions only will become the law of the land.

  15. Wry Mongoose

    Adrian, If what you are saying is true – why was David Commissiong given the Pan African Commission to run (complete with a hefty budget)?

    In a pluralistic society, any party or faction that demonstrates it can influence public opinion, and by extension, votes – will capture the attention of mainstream political parties.

    If a Green Party was advocating locally, there would not be a big hole in St Andrew (and the fiscal budget) all now.

  16. Dear Peter

    Things are really Bad, and the irony too. Maybe the Prime Minister bullied the editor, who is it now, but get back your article. Hope you have already, but they would never do that, and people will support you.

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