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The cabal ministry

By Martin Daly

The concept of cabal is fashionable at the moment because of the belief that our Prime Minister is unduly under the influence of a small group of belligerent Ministers and possibly some of their shadowy satellites.

The origins of the cabal are interesting.

The American Revolution, which gave birth to the United States of America, was, as everyone knows, the result of "taxation without representation".

The colonists of the New World refused to accept that the British could decide on what taxes they must pay when they had no representation in the decision making process.

Less well remembered is the fact that, in the century preceding the American Revolution, the Puritans under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell deposed King Charles the First of England over the same issue and the English Civil War ensued.

King Charles the First attempted to bypass the Parliament and to levy taxes without Parliamentary input. He dissolved the Parliament rather than deal with it. In our Constitution there is a legacy of those events. There are provisions relating to the summoning, prorogation and dissolution of Parliament designed to protect the Parliament from being sent into limbo as Charles the First sent the Parliament of his time.

Section 67(2) in particular seeks to guarantee that the Parliament will meet. It provides as follows: "There shall be a session of each House once at least in every year, so that a period of six months shall not intervene between the last sitting of Parliament in one session and the first sitting thereof in the next session."

The English monarchy was not long in a deposed state.

It was restored when Charles the Second became the monarch in that period of English history known as the Restoration.

It was during his reign that the word "cabal", referring to the cabal Ministry that operated during the reign of Charles the Second, came into the English vocabulary.

Charles the Second fell under the undue influence of a group of five Lords whose names were Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley-Cooper and Lauderdale. It is from the first letter of each of the surnames that the acronym cabal was formed. Ironically, the five men reportedly had differing management attitudes varying from the autocratic to the liberal.

For the purpose of this column, I would have liked to make an acronym out of the names of those said to influence our Prime Minister. Unfortunately, from what I understand, the first letter of their forenames and surnames comprise only consonants. The members of this cabal are all bowels but no vowels.

There is another difference between our alleged cabal and the one of yore. Ours are mostly autocrats, who would like all opposition to die quickly before even lasting long enough to become cults, unless of course the opposition allows itself to be clothed in expensive briefs or to receive bulging hampers.

Interestingly, Charles the Second did not bother too much with the cabal's grip on power because he was and became known as the Merry Monarch reflecting the fact that he was cheerful and witty and fond of a good time.

Our tensions between the rulers and the citizens break out differently. We have avoided civil war so far. We indulge instead in the cathartic burning of tyres. If Charles the First had been half as bright as our politicians, he would have left Parliament alone and invented a State enterprise system through which he could use State resources to feed dependency and so attempt to forestall rebellion.

We also have many public holidays to keep us merry. To add to our happiness, the two merriest days are not even public holidays and from time to time extended feasts to welcome sportsmen and beauty competition winners supplement the Carnival days. By comparison, jousting when two men in armour tried to chook down each other off their horses as entertainment for English monarchs and their VVIPs would seem pretty boring to us.

For those reading this in foreign I must let you know that we have personages for whom the designation Very Important Person (VIP) is insufficient. We have Very Very Important Persons for whom reserved areas and other privileges are designated VVIP. This is a reflection of the fact that we reserve a place in society for the social and commercial cabals that form around the political cabals.

I read recently in the Economist of a term in use in South Africa. It is apt also to describe the commercial cabals supportive of cabal ministries. "Tenderpreneurs" refers to the elite who receive contracts for public works as rewards for political loyalty.

I thank the Prime Minister for referring to Dr Kublalsingh in language less violent than that employed by her senior Ministers. Perhaps she will arrange some anger management classes for those in the cabal ministry in need of them and then inject some of her charm into them.

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