In the last report, we merely reported the allegations of Agard contained in her affidavit. We did not comment or editorialize. We also warned that we had not had sight or a bare recitation of any defence filed by the defendants Mottley and Walcott, that allegations of Agard were not proved in a court of law and we now reiterate our invitation to the defendants to provide us with a copy of their pleadings and undertake to publish them with the same prominence as those of Agard.
We deny that in publishing on these matters that we are taking a political position or breaching defamation laws or seeking to conduct a “trial by blog”. This is a matter that the traditional press should have reported as a matter of public interest – and has failed in its duty to so report.
We also want to make it clear that we are not taking any political position, B versus D, but merely giving voice to the concerns of many of the voters of the country who have no political affiliation, and no agendas, other than the well-being of Barbados and their rights.
Trimming the whole matter down to its barest essentials and with the 20/20 vision of hindsight, what have we actually gleaned from Agard’s allegations?
It is established that Agard was voted in as candidate for Christ Church West.
It is established that this met with the approval and support of the then leader of the BLP, Owen Arthur.
It is established that Agard went on to garner the majority of the vote of the constituency of Christ Church West and became its MP.
It is completely irrelevant and immaterial to voters whether a faction of the BLP members in Christ Church West approved of Agard or not. What is relevant is that: the majority of the electorate of Christ Church West are not members of the BLP, but simple voters; Agard, in winning the nomination to stand for Christ Church West, was chosen by the majority of the party membership; and in winning her seat, Agard was proved to have gained the approval of the majority of the voters in her constituency. If, therefore, Agard’s allegations are proved correct and there was indeed a faction of the BLP that sought to undermine her, then it must be concluded that this faction denies and actively works against the whole concept of democracy and by extension, denies the rights and wishes of voters in that constituency. And that is all we the voters need to know or to consider. And if that faction for whatever reasons, which are irrelevant and immaterial to us, found that they could not work with Agard, then their option was to either put up, or shut up and leave, but never to gang up and undermine the democratic process and the wishes of the electorate.
If Agard’s allegations of the roles of Mottley and Walcott are proved by a finding of fact, then they will have conspired to deny the constitutional rights of the constituent electorate, as well as having sought to deny and abrogate the constitution of the BLP and to betray the democratic process.
We are well aware, all of us, that the BLP is a dysfunctional party with a lot of infighting between factions supportive of Mottley and those supportive of Arthur. Arthur himself now sits as an independent, alongside Agard. We are also, all of us, aware that some of this infighting is the subject of legal proceedings, as in Payne vs Hinkson.
So while the BLP, the official opposition, tears itself to pieces in the public domain, we, the electorate, are the ones that suffer as our choice between a lacklustre government and an opposition apparently committed to the political party equivalent of civil war/suicide, does not offer the electorate of Barbados the choice to which we are entitled and that we must now demand of our candidates for Parliament.
Political posturing aside, under Owen Arthur there was a unified BLP, but the rot set in as soon as the BLP lost the last election and Owen Arthur, as is custom, resigned leadership of the party. It was up to his successor, Mottley, to step in and heal the divisions. Indeed, any person stepping in had the obligation to heal the breaches. But to do that, there would have been a necessity for give and take and a leader capable of compromise and accommodation within reason. Too long has passed and the fracture is now a gaping chasm, which suggests that Mottley lacks either the willingness or the capacity (or both) to heal the breaches or is herself leading the demolition. We note that Payne vs Hinkson is still outstanding and no successful mediation had been achieved or, as far as we are aware, even taken place, to resolve this peacefully, quietly and to the benefit of the electorate.
We were also treated to the unedifying spectacle of Owen Arthur, our longest-serving PM, being forced to either resign from the BLP or be expelled. A credible successor would have managed the change-over and diffused the explosive situation quietly and to the benefit of both party and country, not got hung up on a campaign of revenge against her predecessor and all who backed him. Egos that have no respect for the voters is what it comes across as.
Regrettably, this leads to the inevitable conclusion that Mottley is not fit for purpose as leader of the BLP and leader of the opposition and what the BLP has to do now, in the interest and expectation and demand of the electorate, is to find a leader who has the capacity and willingness to heal the breaches and bring it whole and unified into opposition and into the next general election. The electorate will expect no less. And there is time and more to do this, before we go to the polls and are asked to choose between a lacklustre government and a fractured party whose members are fully prepared to dump democracy and the self-evident rights and of voters in the trash can in a mindless rush to replace the present government wild boys feeding at the national trough and personal “supporters”, as opposed to supporters of the country and its voters’ rights.
Agard is merely one instance of the dysfunction of the BLP. A major and historic political party should never allow itself to become a battleground between two factions – Mottley versus Arthur (one with no track record to speak of as a leader and the other the longest leader in our history). Because this demonstrates that the focus of the party is not on the well-being of the voters, but on the personal agendas of its leaders and wannabees. And we, the people, suffer for it. For if the BLP cannot solve its internal problems, how can it possibly manage to convince the voters that it can solve the problems of the country.
We therefore urge: the BLP to sort out its leadership so that the party’s fractured limbs can be set and healed and to provide us with a unified and credible opposition and possible unified and credible government where the denial of our democratic rights are not in doubt.