Political parties should sanction their governments

Notwithstanding the present stagnation in the area of political reform, I believe that our political parties are on the cusp of major restructuring and that John Maynard Keynes was perhaps correct when he claimed that: “The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood”, for even today, notions like “democratic centralism” and “party paramountcy,” rooted as they were in autocratic political cultures that are either dead or in their death throes, are still being used to explain contemporary issues.

PPP should be radically reformed

For those who have some understanding of the nature and workings of political parties, a few weeks ago we were treated to a quite extraordinary exchange between former speaker of the National Assembly, Mr.

Send the next budget to a select committee

If the public reaction to last week’s article (Cheddi’s mantra was `give them the books’ SN: 16/05/12) is anything to go by, discussions between the government and the opposition on financial matters will not bear much fruit anytime soon.

Cheddi’s mantra was: ‘give them the books’

“Interest and objectives are two sides of the same coin. They are closely related, yet being able to differentiate one from the other can often make all the difference during negotiations.” (Godefroy C & Luis Robert – 1991 – “The Outstanding Negotiator” Piatkus).

Negotiation is not a ‘casino-type’ activity

The Stabroek News, quoting GINA, reported that in response to the statement by Opposition Leader, David Granger “that he is ready for Government to seek a supplementary budget provided that certain conditions are met, President Ramotar said that he is not running a `casino-type’ operation and maintains that all decisions will be based solely on what is in the best interest of Guyana and its people.” (“Gov’t to uphold APNU pacts – Ramotar:” SN: 30/04/2012).

We must be sceptical of politicians who claim allegiance to principles

Two weeks ago (“PPP/C has an historic opportunity …..:”  SN 25/01/12) I promised to address what it is that politicians can mean when they claim that their policy or actions are based on ‘principle.’ This interest arose from what appeared to be an unusual amount of reliance on this concept in our recent political discourse.

Opposition made huge blunder

Notwithstanding all the opposition talk of seeking to create a new political culture in Guyana, its recent antics are as old as the hills, but the PPP/C is not without fault and should not use the opposition’s faux pas to prevent us from moving forward in a timely and efficacious manner.

Rotating speaker is a good suggestion

The current discourse about the election of a speaker for our new National Assembly has been variously described and assessed but here I will discuss the opportunity it presents us to identify and contemplate some important issues, the nature of which are likely to stay with us as we go forward in the present political context.

Parental engagement can make big difference to a child’s life chances

“The literature suggests that among the non-school factors of school achievement like socioeconomic background, parent’s educational attainment, family structure, ethnicity and parental involvement, it is the latter which is the most strongly connected to attainment.” It has long been known that parental involvement is a powerful tool for enhancing pupil achievement and most schools here and elsewhere try to devise ways of involving parents.

PPP/C position on Speaker pure propaganda

If President Donald Ramotar wants to represent change in and modernisation of the Guyanese political fabric, one of his first priorities must be to put a rein on the type of propaganda with which the PPP has been historically associated.

What is a ‘good life’?

The 2011 manifesto of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) promised “A Good Life for All Guyanese”: now that it is in a position to help to provide one, we shall see!

Propaganda and a Destiny to Mould

Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s “Evil Genius” and Reich Minister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment, who is generally believed to be responsible for bringing that seventeenth century Vatican-created term “propaganda” into disrepute, stated that: “That propaganda is good which leads to success, and that is bad which fails to achieve the desired result ….

The Diaspora has a significant role in nation building

“We need a space for the Diaspora to contribute to national, regional and international policy dialogue and action.” If anything epitomised the goodwill that greeted the 1992 PPP/C government, it must have been the enthusiasm shown by the thousands of Guyanese who indicated that they wanted to return home, invest here or help the country in some other way.

We need to take a long view of history

“Studying history . . . helps [us] to develop a sense of ‘shared humanity’; to understand themselves and ‘otherness,’ by learning how they resemble and how they differ from other people, over time and space; to question stereotypes of others, and of themselves; to discern the difference between fact and conjecture; to grasp the complexity of historical cause; to distrust the simple answer and the dismissive explanation; to respect particularity and avoid false analogy; to recognize the abuse of historical ‘lessons,’ and to weigh the possible consequences of such abuse; to consider that ignorance of the past may make us prisoners of it; to realize that not all problems have solutions; to be prepared for the irrational, the accidental, in human affairs; and to grasp the power of ideas and character in history.” (The Bradley Commission on History in Schools established in 1987 given the expressed concerns about the quantity and quality of the history teaching in American schools.) History comes in various types: social, economical, political, diplomatic, intellectual, cultural, etc.

If AFC succeeds in taking PPP votes it could open mammoth possibility for national renewal

The AFC is adamant in its refusal to join a pre-election coalition with old parties mired in old politics and its Acton Plan 2011 speaks of its seeking to establish “A liberal democratic culture for Guyana (based on) Western democratic political systems, such as Australia, the United States, Britain, New Zealand, Canada, India, Brazil and others.” These are however all essentially majoritarian systems with a commitment to political arrangements that are – in my view – fundamentally unsuited to an ethnically divided society such as ours.

Proposed Access to Info law deficient in key areas

On 27 December 2006, Dr Christopher Lamb made a request to the British cabinet office for copies of cabinet minutes and records relating to meetings at which the attorney general’s legal advice concerning military action in Iraq was discussed.

Success is not totally beyond APNU’s grasp

A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) has now been formally launched and has given us some idea of its core beliefs: immediate post election national unity government, constitutional change to implement shared governance, a strict separation of powers and equitable distribution of the national wealth.

If PPP harbours fear of Afro-Guyanese in the administration it has not properly assessed the situation

“If any generalization about institutional design is sustainable, given the bloody outcomes of countless political systems that appeared to exclude major cleavage groups from power, it is that majoritarian systems are ill-advised for countries with deep ethnic, regional, religious and other emotional and polarizing divisions.” (Andrew Ellis, “Dilemmas in Representation and Political Identity,” International IDEA, 2006).