Submitted by Heather Cole (The Barbados Lobby)
It may be a sign of the times because three major occurrences can be resolved swiftly by the electorate of Barbados. […]These are the impasse between Maria Agard and the Barbados Labour Party,
the Democratic Labour party offering an advisory position to Owen Arthur and the matter of the Cahill Plant. Why not kill all three birds with one stone; an election stone.
It is worth the while of anyone seeking to enter politics in Barbados to read up on the history of the development of its political parties from their early formation until recent times. The public squabble surrounding Maria Agard is rather strange. It is as though a play is being dramatized contrary to its script. She has mischaracterized her opponent. It is not Ms. Mottley nor the Branch Executive but history itself; to be more precise the history of antagonisms within the political parties of Barbados.
There are four specific examples that can help determine a solution to Ms Agard’s dilemma. When Errol Barrow became a member of the Barbados Labour party in 1951, he began advocating for swift changes to break away from colonialism. Subsequently, he became dissatisfied with the approach of the Barbados Labour Party and founded the Democratic Labour party in 1955. There have been several examples of members of the two political parties crossing the floor when antagonisms that could not be repaired occurred. The most famous to date was when Clyde Mascoll left the Democratic Labour Party to join the Barbados Labour Party. The most popular option for dissenting party members has been to resign and become independent members of Parliament. This is currently the second time that Owen Arthur has chosen this option. It must be noted that reconciliation was tried by Mr. Arthur but was short lived.
To date no individual has been able to change the political parties in Barbados based on their dissatisfaction. The parties have always won this battle. One does not expect this current episode to be the game changer in a long established tradition. Ms. Agard therefore, has four options at this time.
1. Form her own political party
2. Cross the floor
3. Resign and become and independent
There is no option five, no grey area, no grandfather clause; if any of these were evident they would have been used by Errol Barrow, Clyde Mascoll and Owen Arthur. Ms. Agard’s next meeting with leadership may as well be a date with history which we all know has the ability to repeat itself. However, the true test of her candidacy would be if general elections were announced and this matter was unresolved. The question to be asked is, would Ms. Agard be a guaranteed winner? To that question Ms. Mottley does not have the answer, neither does Mr. Payne or Mr. Toppin. The answer lies with the electorate of Christ Church West. Added to this I am unaware that the Constitution of the Barbados Labour Party contains any clause to prevent the party from fielding an additional candidate if general elections were announced.
The media recently informed the country that former Prime Minister Owen Arthur had been offered a position to be advisor to the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs. The media has not informed if the position has been accepted by Mr. Arthur. To date, the stewardship of the Minister of Finance and Economic Affair, Mr. Chris Sinckler has been riddled with bad economic policies which have resulted in several downgrades of the country’s credit rating, the inability to borrow funds on the international markets at prime interest rates, high unemployment that may very well be nearing 30%, high inflation, the introduction of 35 new taxes in a short period of time, the depletion of NIS funds, the sale of junk bonds and an economy that has stagnated in a self-imposed recession. Regardless to however it is packaged the cry for help by the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs is an admission of failure.
It was stated by some persons on the Internet that Mr. Arthur’s accepting the position would be in the best interest of the country. I beg to differ on two counts. The first being that on the ballot at the last general election there was no disclosure next to Mr. Sinckler’s name stating that if his stewardship failed that Mr. Arthur would be stepping in to assist him. The second reason applies for any job, if the holder cannot do the job he should resign. Mr. Arthur’s ability to do the job is not being questioned, but the ability of the Minister is and he should therefore resign and advise the Prime Minister to call an election to let the electorate and not him (Mr. Sinckler) choose a competent person to run the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs.
This brings us to the Cahill Plasma Gasification Plant. About a month ago the Prime Minister was on record stating that the Cahill Plant would not be built by stealth. To date no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been done and no application has been filed with the Town and Country Planning Department to build the plant. Yet last week a resolution was read in the House of Assembly and this week in the Senate to compulsorily acquire 27.13 acres of land at Vaulcuse to build the plant. Government claims that the plant is not a secret yet it refuses the make the Agreements public. It makes one wonder if the plant is destined to become a figment of the imagination. How can one build on land without blue prints? Or start growing king grass now for a plant that is to become operational in 2019? The signed agreement binds the tax payers of this country to $4.8 Billion. There are so many unanswered questions and since the government is not willing to answer, it is in the best interest of the electorate to go back to the polls to get the answers they seek. One hopes they have finally learnt a lesson that their vote is not to be sold.