The princes of the realm used to be an expression connected with feudal times. It portrays a situation where in one kingdom there are many princes and basically within their principalities they do what they like. Only rarely do they come together and operate as one kingdom.
In modern times, management text books would probably describe it as managing in silos. It’s the same point: each individual power structure or group just operates within their own confines and no one interferes with what they do and no one wants any interference in what they do. In fact, they don’t even pay attention to what the other centres of power are doing.
The way the modern government of The Bahamas is set up, it is easy for people to act as if they are princes of the realm, that there are principalities, or silos and never the twain shall meet.
It is easy given the way power operates around you when you become a minster of the government to live in a bubble. Ordinary tasks seem too mundane for you, the real life of people around you disconnected from you; you simply don’t connect with it or them.
It is a point made in the film “ The Paper”: never to mix up your temporary exposure to all this high life and power with what real life is. There is a difference between your real life and the life you live when you are a minister. Do not confuse the two.
Lynden Pindling admitted to that disconnect when he lost office after 25 years. He said that he did not realize that people were suffering the way they were when he lost. The loss therefore took him by surprise. It was a surprise to everyone, one guesses but himself, and the princes who surrounded him. To the bitter end, they were insisting that they would win in 1992.
The same thing happened recently to Baldwin Spencer down in Antigua. To the bitter end when people could see that the government of Antigua under his leadership was totally lost, he could not see it. He admitted after the fact that little things he had noticed in the waning days of power but ignored or dismissed at the time, were in fact signs that people had abandoned him.
Patrick Manning in Trinidad and Tobago inexplicably called a general election in 2010, two years before time. Most people think that it was the soothsayer that he had as his spiritual advisor who talked him into that. He caught his party flat footed. They all thought it was foolish but there was no counterbalancing or countervailing power within the party to say look: this is a train wreck and we need to stop and think a moment. Just like lemmings jumping off the cliff, they marched behind Mr. Manning and lost big time.
That unfortunately seems to be in the nature of political parties. It is difficult when you have a strong personality, who has had a run of luck and good fortune that has led him always to fortune which can if you are not careful can give the impression that what he says and does comes from God.
As the PLP nears the midterm, this column has warned of the signs all around us, that notwithstanding all the good news of what the PLP is doing, there is a disconnect. The unemployment figures for example, good as they are, simply do not translate into the homes of people on the ground. There is still too much suffering. Given the way we run our election campaigns, the people think that you can deliver everything and now the general election is long past, and reality is here; the job has to be lowering the expectations and keeping them on board if the PLP is to survive.
The late PLP MP Jeffery Thompson used to say that one of the reasons the PLP was so successful in the run up to the general election in 1967 was that they actually liked each other, they spent time with one another, always around exchanging ideas and information. That all changed once they became ministers of the government. Three years after the glorious 1967 revolution of 10th January 1967, the party broke up and they were warring with one another. It only goes to show.
We used expressions before: the tipping point, death by a thousand cuts, now we say operating in silos, or as princes of the realm. Once again as the robot said in Lost in Space: Warning. Warning, Warning.
Number of hits for the week ending Saturday 26th July 2014 up to midnight:244,844;
Number of hits for the month of July up to Saturday 26th July 2014 up to midnight:623,753;
Number of hits for the year 2014 up to Saturday 26th July 2014 up to midnight:5,134,059.