Welcome

Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

What governance issues look like: learning at mother's knee

As Barbados goes to the polls with accusations flying of inappropriate party financing, I happened to glance at the Sunday papers from the "mother country"; England that is. Two scandals are rocking the governing British Labour Party. I dont think the BLP's in the UK and Barbados are related except by the initials.

The first is about murky donor financing, as a result of which one Cabinet Minister, Peter Hain, appears to be hanging on by his finger nails (see Sunday Times report), even after his own aides advised him to resign. The equivalent of some U$205,000 went to financing his campaign to be deputy leader. People had created a not too sophisticated vehicle to funnel funds to Mr. Hain. Now all is oozing out and accusations of cover up are flying around. Messy!

The second involves PM Gordon Brown's new chief of strategy and principal (not principle) advisor, Stephen Carter. Mr. Carter used to be with US cable TV company NTL, which went bankrupt with debts of about US$ 24 billion! He got compensation of about US$2.5 million. The allegations are that Mr. Carter was somewhat "economical with the truth", deceitful, and misled shareholders. Court documents cite him as saying to a fellow executive at NTL who feared he had misled shareholders: "...I tell them nine-tenths bullshit and one tenth selected facts...". Interesting background for what the UK paper terms the new Labour Party "spin doctor".

What I really love about the UK is how the system of controls really works. That system involves the very important role of the print media. Investigative journalism means getting to the heart of a story. I remember Peter Hain well, when he was a firebrand anti-apartheid advocate in the late 1960s. I have not followed his political career too closely since he joined the Labour Party (he was a Liberal/Liberal Democrat) but apparently has been a very good minister in various posts. But once again we see the adage of "power corrupts".

1 comment:

Gio said...

Yeah... having been in the UK for a few years now I am amazed at how politicians are kept in check. I would love for this to be the case in Barbados... but Barbados is such a small place and the power of the government so all encompassing I can't see it happening.