Saturday, March 2, 2024

Equal television access for all


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THE 2013 CAMPAIGN is on and the parties have started the fight for control of this island’s administration within the system which we have for periodic elections.
We are proud of our long heritage and history in changing administrations by the ballot rather than by any other means and long may it be so.
Words and ideas translated into policy are the means by which we seek to persuade the voting public to choose this or that candidate, and we anticipate that there will be a lot of talking, writing, shouting and using of every other means of expression – aided or not by electronic amplification – in the effort to get the messages across.
Now even if we have in the past turned our heads against violence and have prided ourselves on fair, free and peaceful elections, we have to be mindful that the power of life and death is in the tongue; and since the parties will seek to persuade voters by the power of words, then we have to ask for responsibility in the use of language.
We therefore urge all supporters and political campaigners islandwide to exercise restraint in the use of and kind of language which might incite the vulnerable mind into descending into mindless or any violence.
In the words of the late Sir James Cameron Tudor, one of our revered local politicians who has gone to rest with the ancestors, we should refrain from spitting in the soup since we all have to drink it. This is our country and we are best advised to honour our traditions and to continue our fine record of election management.
It is in this vein that we call upon the authorities to ensure that parties other than government parties are able to have fair access to the television airwaves afforded by the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation. Elections cannot be fair if access to the airwaves is denied to a legitimate political party.
Notwithstanding the explosion of social media which does grant freedom of access through the Internet, state-supported facilities should afford equality of access.
More than in any previous election, the issues are so sharply defined that we believe that the fullest debate should be afforded the parties to put their cases before the public. The issue of austerity and the medium-term fiscal strategy as suggested by the governing Democratic Labour Party as opposed to stimulating the local economy to promote growth but at the risk of loss of some foreign reserves suggested by the Barbados Labour Party, will require serious consideration by the voters. We urge the fullest debate by all sides with equal access so that all sides are equally heard.
We anticipate that international issues will feature in this election. Austerity seems not be working in Europe and stimulus policies appear to have had a beneficial impact in the United States. Our country is different and while we do not expect copycat policies either from Europe or from the United States, we expect that there will be some common truths which we can apply with modification in our country.
But the verdict will soon be in and meanwhile the jury of voters is entitled to a proper canvas of all the competing economic and other policies of the parties. We urge a clean, informative, peaceful, fair and violence-free campaign in the finest traditions of Barbadian election history.


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