by Shawn Cumberbatch
Get ready for the election battle of your life Owen, but you will not determine when I ring the bell.
That was the message from Prime Minister Freundel Stuart today as he threw down the gauntlet to Leader of the Opposition Owen Arthur.
It followed the Barbados Labour Party leader’s call for Stuart to go to the polls in the wake of this week’s credit rating downgrade by Standard & Poor’s.
Speaking to the media after he and other LIAT shareholder governments held a Press conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Stuart said Arthur was out of touch with reality and that he would not allow the former Prime Minister to force his hand.
“The person who called for the election is still living in cloud cuckoo land, he still believes that he can call an election,” he said.
He can continue to dream, I know what he is missing, I can’t promise him that he is going to get it back in the foreseeable future, if ever, but he can continue to miss it and to wish for an election and to hope that he can find some renewed source of personal validation. It’s not going to come from me.
“I determine when the election is going to be called, and when I call it I hope he is ready. No quarter will be asked, none will be given — he can prepare himself for the battle of his life. So tell him just take it easy, that time will come, don’t rush the brush he may spill the paint.”
Reacting to the S&P action, Arthur had urged Stuart to call elections so a new Government could seriously fix the island’s fiscal problems.
“The best thing that can happen in the circumstances is that we should be allowed to put the election behind us. Call the election, let us get this behind us and let all of the fundamental decisions … about the country’s future be made in a period of calm and seriousness,” he said.
Stuart said comments by Arthur and others were symptomatic of the silly season.
“We are obviously in a period when people are thinking elections and necessarily you will have around merchants of despair and purveyors of distress and despondency, but the Government views it quite differently,” he said.
“We are doing what we have to do, we have a secure foreign reserve cover, our fiscal deficit is coming down dramatically and we are managing the Barbados economy as best we can in the circumstances of the most difficult world in one hundred years.”