What are political slogans and jingles for, if not to evoke an emotional response? To take the minds of the people to a place of comfort with carefully selected words and phrasings meant to instigate reasoned debate on the issues of the moment. To fill the minds of citizens with happy feelings or messianic illusions as they consider the country's development. But I love the analysis policy and politicians, and this is all a part of the theatre of intrigue for someone like myself to dig my teeth into and dissect.
So, when I heard a jingle recently on ZJB Radio regarding the political grandeur of former Chief Minister, David S Brandt, I smiled to myself. Was it a smile of comfort? Was it emotional, being lead down memories of glory when D S Brandt ruled at the pleasure of the people? Perhaps! Or perhaps not!
The basis of my smiling had more to do with the fact that two days ago in Dominica, I availed myself of the privilege of listening to a sitting of the House of Assembly during which time I witnessed the power of the Speaker of the House being enforced. The Honourable Alix Boyd Knights, Speaker of the Dominica House of Assembly does not play by the rules of either side. She presides over the people's house and she makes it clear that it is she and not the politicians who calls the shots once they have entered those doors.
While I observed this, my thoughts immediately turned to what takes place in Montserrat and the mauling that often is delivered to the opposition when some incumbent members rise to speak. They get away with a lot in Montserrat, I had thought.
I have often listened and wondered how come the Honourable Speaker on Montserrat, a lady whom I admire and respect greatly, does not do more to reign in the barrage of insults and insolence that often runs amuck in our Legislative Assembly, forcing the House to maintain a decorum of honour by all members on both sides. I call it ruling with equilibrium to avoid charges of favouritism and the other less complimentary murmurings one often hears.
But alas, sometimes it seems as if it is a slugfest of who can belittle whom the most. For a while too, it did appear that newcomer, Leader of the Opposition Romeo, was being exploited mercilessly as he was unseasoned and ill-equipped to handle the firebombs from the other side. A counter-balance was required in the Legislative Assembly was my conclusion. My mind immediately moved towards David S Brandt, or the 'Heavy Roller' as he is commonly referred to.
Is the Heavy Roller the man who can be the counterweight to the rhetorical mischief that Premier Reuben T Meade creates in the Honourable House? Let's look a bit deeper at Brandt and his politics.
Now, one does not assume the title of Heavy Roller under pretence. It is a title steeped in the display of power, command, and political clout. It is a title with a ruthless edge to it. If it is one thing that D S Brandt did have, it is political clout.
Before he made his exit from the political scene, he was a man who was not afraid to address the issues of the day head on. He had skilfully positioned himself as a man of the people and that association stuck. Hence, the viral spread of his supposed announcement of his candidacy. Rumour was enough to almost propel the story into fact. This is not about whether you like David S Brandt, the person. This is about the level of democratic involvement and balance that David S Brandt, the politician, brought to parliament. The type of representative balance that is needed in all emerging democracies.
My inbox was bombarded with one overriding question: Is it true? Is Mr Brandt running in 2014?' There was excitement. There was concern. I decided to engage the social media opinion-makers on this issue and the responses received were mixed, with some relevant questions being asked.
It is important at this point to note that Mr Brandt has not formally declared his candidacy for Election 2014, despite all the fervour around the possibility. MNI Alive tried to contact him for comment, but we suspect that he is being bombarded with phone calls as every attempt was fruitless, yielding nothing more than a busy tone.
However, a recent ZJB news report had Mr. Brandt himself stating that the jingle which has gathered a cult-like following is the work of a pressure group, named Friends of Montserrat, which is seeking for him to run in the upcoming elections. For this level of action to have been undertaken to bring Mr Brandt out of retirement, this pressure group must indeed feel that he is the most viable antidote to Premier R T Meade.
Reubenism, a term coined by this media house a few weeks ago has reigned in Montserrat for just around 22 years. Its first term was as Chief Minister, post hurricane Hugo and into the onset of the volcanic crisis. This second time has been as Premier, under a new constitution order that was fiercely fought over.
Mr Brandt on the other hand has served only once as Chief Minister, Montserrat's sixth to be exact, from August 22nd, 1997 to April 5th, 2001. Thinking about Mr Brandt's assumed candidacy, (I do think he will declare) what are the benefits?
Well, firstly, I think his name being thrown into the mix this soon sets a good precedent in that it will encourage others who are considering joining the race to declare early. I have been looking at the landscape and have been asking: Where are the voices? Not necessarily voices in opposition to MCAP but voices that are making themselves known and vocal on the issues that concern the people, the common man on the street. With an election constitutionally due in September 2014, political aspirants ought to embrace a new type of political discourse and disassociate themselves from what I refer to as the 'come by night' type of politics.
Come by night politics, is the type of political engagement in which an election is around the corner and, at the last minute, there are few contestants besides the incumbents. It is the type of politics that has sat ugly over the past few years as one sees the issues plaguing the country, yet the opposition has been buttressed both from within and from the other side. So what we have had over the past five years is a government that has bulldozed its will upon the people of Montserrat knowing full well that there is limited counter-balance.
So where are the voices, the speeches, the plans I wonder. Did we miss it? Did I miss it? Where are they?
Brandt has been a mecca for voicing what he saw as being wrong with the state of leadership and, by extension, how it affected the country. He is shrewd in his use of the media, galvanising popular opinion towards the causes he highlights. He once famously quit the previous Meade administration as a matter of principle. Of course, the other side would state that he was fired. The prospect of Brandt's hat in the ring in 2014 makes some salivate and others respectfully unsure what hand he is coming to play.
Either way, the question still remains whether someone else throws their hat into the ring or not: Is D S Brandt, 'The Heavy Roller' the counterweight needed to check Premier R T Meade?
Jeevan Robinson is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of MNI Alive, a global Caribbean marketing, news & information (MNI) media enterprise. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.