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Final word on the Caines saga

Any democratic government operating on basic principles of transparency, decency and truth will need to walk that tightrope of balance, fully aware that it takes only a slip in the wrong direction to cause weakening of credibility, which is never easy to regain.

Politicians are not perfect and the electorate in most jurisdictions is prepared to tolerate some mistakes from those holding positions of responsibility, depending on the nature of the mistake and whether it falls below standards considered important in upholding values that promote decency and integrity.

A slip of the tongue by any politician in an age of rumbling cyberspace activity could prove damaging even without any devious intention.

All politicians should realise that, irrespective of which group they are attached to, there are always those who simply wait for a stumble. Whether it is big or small, they will lose no time in holding that individual accountable — and that is to be expected.

Governments aware of this fact also know that words that carry negative tones, once spoken by an elected official could affect the image of the political party itself.

If one lives long enough, there are few people on this earth who have not said something they wish they had not. It happens every day. Except in the world of politics, a few badly chosen words could be the difference between success and failure.

Credibility rides on how well governments perform and communicate with the public.

The recent incident involving government minister Wayne Caines, and a remark that many found offensive, is a good example of how delicate the tightrope in political life can be. He has apologised vehemently for the blunder, which he admitted was out of order.

The important factor here is that government officials, whether here or abroad, should conduct themselves in a manner that promotes proper community values. This means thinking carefully before letting tongues fly.

I recall a popular song from years ago, You Talk Too Much, by Joe Jones.

Our leaders must never forget that they are supposed to at least set an example for our younger generation when it comes to conducting the affairs of the country. The people are watching and listening to both the Progressive Labour Party government and the One Bermuda Alliance in opposition, and most want to hear positive endeavours aimed at making life better for all Bermudians.

The Government must be careful in avoiding incidents that raise questions about credibility. There simply is no substitute for transparency, respect and common decency, which is expected from all who are elected to serve.

This should be a warning to politicians on both sides that those in leadership roles will be held accountable in the strongest terms should they lose sight of proper values in performing their duties.

It is to be hoped that we can move on from this incident with a full government apology so that we may remain focused on important issues such as education, better healthcare for our seniors, and the growing concern over violent crime.

Those are crucial matters that need attention from all who serve this beautiful island.

Demands of leadership: Wayne Caines can refocus on his job in national security after the self-inflicted furore of the past week, but he and other leaders must accept that accountability does not take a day off (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published September 15, 2018 at 9:00 am (Updated September 15, 2018 at 8:29 pm)

Final word on the Caines saga

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