Notes From The Margin

January 16, 2008

Vox Populi Vox Dei

Well I’m writing this at 11.00pm as we all sit and listen to the election results come in. Although the final result in not clear at this time, one thing that is clear is that the Government has changed.  It’s looking as if the DLP will end up somewhere north of 20 seats.

While I don’t think anyone will look back on the 2008 election as either party’s finest hour in terms of conduct, the DLP maintained momentum from the beginning and kept on the offensive throughout the campaign. While the BLP’s campaign was most definitely hurt by not having the debates, and rarely managed to take the initiative from the Dees.

The true test of a democracy is when an incumbent government loses, and the result is accepted by ALL supporters of all parties. At the end of the day we are all Barbadians and it is in all of our interests to move forward with the new government.

An election is one case where vox populi is vox Dei, supporters of the BLP would do well to remember this.

But that is for another day, for right now NFTM congratulates David Thompson on a well run campaign, and wishes him the best of fortune in the coming five years.



  1. Hi Marginal:

    Barbados has an unprecedented opportunity. For the first time in our history, we have an Engineer elected to serve in Parliament on the government’s side. Actually there are two Engineers and I am elated to the point of jubilation.

    I can only hope that the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (all Civil Engineering disciplines) will finally be managed by a Civil Engineer … that would be Richard Sealy. I also hope that the Ministry of Energy will be managed by a Mechanical Engineer … that would be John Boyce.

    It is about time in Barbados’ development that Ministers have some working knowledge of the Ministries that they are given to manage.

    Best regards,

    Comment by Researching — January 16, 2008 @ 3:28 pm | Reply

  2. Hi Grenville,

    You do raise an interesting point. Apart from the engineers, Donville Inniss has a background in International business, and there are a number of doctors to choose from for the Ministry of Health. However, I am somewhat concerned by the lack of an economist in the ranks of the new administration. It will be an interesting term of government to watch. (That said any term of Government is interesting 🙂 )


    Comment by notesfromthemargin — January 16, 2008 @ 3:45 pm | Reply

  3. Hi Marginal:

    While I agree that a trained economist in the DLP Cabinet would be an asset; the Minister of Finance can receive some informal training and be effective.

    All of the new Ministers will be inexperienced and should therefore be prudent enough to invite a volunteer advisory committee to meet with them each month.

    The Minister of Finance could meet with representatives of the Economic association, Chamber of Commerce, Employers association, CTUSAB, etc. The Minister of heath could meet with representatives of BAMP, BRNA, etc. The Minister of Public Works could meet with representatives of the Engineers association, etc. and so on. In this way, each Minister could benefit from a critical review and refinement of their policies before they are enunciated publicly.

    Hence, the Minister of Finance does not need to be an economist; however, he should have the intellectual capacity and the attitudinal willingness to consider advice.


    Comment by Researching — January 16, 2008 @ 6:25 pm | Reply

  4. Grenville,

    We will have to see what happens.


    Comment by notesfromthemargin — January 16, 2008 @ 7:43 pm | Reply

  5. Grenville…

    ‘should have the intellectural capacity and attitudinal williness to consider advice’.

    Now that you have your engineers, can I request a person of a similar prerequisite for the Ministry of Tourism?

    Comment by Adrian Loveridge — January 16, 2008 @ 7:58 pm | Reply

  6. Hi Adrian:

    I selected Austin Husbands for that post since he is in the industry, managing a business, and earning foreign currency. You can review all of my hopefuls on my web page if you wish. Of course he should invite you to be on his advisory committee.


    Comment by Researching — January 16, 2008 @ 8:25 pm | Reply

  7. Marginal:

    While the DLP was in opposition it criticised the size of the BLP Cabinet. I think that now it controls the Government, it must, as a matter of priority, determine how it can effectively govern Barbados with a smaller and less costly administrative structure. It must begin by demonstrating that it has the discipline to contain the size of the cabinet, in the face of pressures to reward all those who offered themselves as candidates by giving them ministerial office.

    Grenville Phillips’ idea that a minister should have a substantive qualification in the subject-area over which he presides seems to overlook the fact that the role of ministers is to formulate policies, and to ensure that they are effectively implemented, but not to micromanage the implementation of those policies. As a technocrat, himself, Grenville may have a natural inclination to focus more on implementation than on policy formulation.

    Comment by Linchh — January 16, 2008 @ 10:55 pm | Reply

  8. Mr. Grenville,

    I read from your argument that a qualification in the ministry’s “subject area” is an asset that will improve governance, but it is somehow not necessary for the Minister of Finance, who can follow advice.

    Somehow I’m not buying it.

    Comment by Observing — January 17, 2008 @ 12:43 am | Reply

  9. Hi Observing:

    All Ministers, including the Minister of Finance, should have some training in the Ministry that they are given to manage. However, regardless of their training, I believe that they should meet periodically with some qualified advisers.


    Comment by Researching — January 17, 2008 @ 2:14 pm | Reply

  10. Hi LynchH:

    You are correct when you state that the role of Ministers is to formulate policy. However, it is critical that you understand what you are formulating. If you do not understand, then you simply will not formulate any new policy. I agree that the manager should not micro-manage.

    When you do not understand the Ministry that you are asked to manage, then it becomes analogous to a person who has never used a computer, being asked to manage a US$2B super computer. You will be so scared of breaking it by making the wrong decision that you simply let things continue EXACTLY as they were, and hope that nothing goes wrong during your management term. You are afraid of formulating any new policy and discourage any one who suggests improvements. Something has to go terribly wrong for the manager to react with a band-aid solution.


    Comment by Researching — January 17, 2008 @ 2:14 pm | Reply

  11. Hi guys,

    I would think that any policy maker would do well to take on board the advice of the stakeholders. The Social Partnership was a particularly effective tool for this. I do subscribe to Grenville’s initial point but I still would feel a level of comfort with an economist as part of the team at a policy making level.

    However it should be noted that membership in the house is not a prerequisite for membership in the cabinet, so Mr. Thompson may choose to fill this gap from outside of his parliamentary team perhaps as a junior minister.

    We will see when the Cabinet is revealed.

    Comment by notesfromthemargin — January 17, 2008 @ 2:34 pm | Reply

  12. Grenville:

    In forty years of public service, I found that policy failures resulted not from a lack of “understanding” the what, how , when, and where, of policy-making, on the part of ministers, but in believing that what was lacking in the process of thinking the policy through could be made up in directing exactly how it should be implemented. That is why I am concerned about “micromanagement”,which, in reality, is not management at all.

    We could debate this issue, for a long time, using practical examples of ministerial performance over, say, the past thirty years. Even, after we have done so, you and I may not agree, since we probably look at the issue from different perspectives.

    Comment by Linchh — January 17, 2008 @ 4:17 pm | Reply

  13. Hi Linchh:

    I must respect your invaluable experience and perspective on this matter. I also agree that policy implementation can be frustrated by micro-management (or the more descriptive definition: meddling) by Ministers. However, my point was that policy in a specific discipline is best formulated by persons who understand that discipline.

    I am looking forward to the publication of the Cabinet positions with much interest. I expect the Prime Minister to make full use of his two elected Engineers and the one who was not elected. I must admit to being a little besides myself with much glee. From no Engineers ever in the history of Barbados to three … who would have thought that Barbados would have been so fortunate. God is on His throne, and all is well with the world.


    Comment by Researching — January 17, 2008 @ 6:26 pm | Reply

  14. Grenville you are too much. LOL. I don’t know about you guys but I have been saying for a little while that what the Government needs more than anything else is an accountant. Seriously. It has one now in George Hutson. So I am going to see how things go with that.

    Comment by Anonymous — January 18, 2008 @ 12:32 pm | Reply

  15. Grenville,

    “I must admit to being a little besides myself with much glee. From no Engineers ever in the history of Barbados to three … who would have thought that Barbados would have been so fortunate. God is on His throne, and all is well with the world.”

    Your comments sound very immature and premature to me. No ministers have yet been appointed, and neither have they even PERFORMED yet.

    I don’t need any fancy engineering degree to tell you this… don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

    Sorry Claire, we have very strict rules here, no insulting other commenters. Feel free to disagree with him though. Welcome to the margin and hope you continue to participate

    Comment by Claire Pilgrim — January 19, 2008 @ 3:46 am | Reply

  16. Wow Claire! Was that called for? NFTM is tamer than that. You not having a good time at all. Wow!

    Comment by Anonymous — January 19, 2008 @ 1:15 pm | Reply

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