Opposition leader Owen Arthur believes a glorious election victory is within sight of his Barbados Labour Party, and the national nightmare of the Freundel Stuart administration must be ended.
Arthur expressed these views last night while addressing a mass meeting at the Prior Park Roundabout, St. James.
The former Prime Minister said: “I should be elsewhere otherwise engaged, but duty calls. A glorious election victory is within sight. We will face an increasingly desperate opponent. The slow motion of a story must be put behind us and a good government must be restored to this land, and that is our mission.”
He added: “Tonight I have come with a simple message. We have to give the people of Barbados a justification for changing the government. I do not believe in the politics of frivolity. I will not lead a party that asks you to change for change sake. Slavery done. And I will not lead a party that believes that black people can be made available to be purchased by offering duty free cars, interest free mortgages, and free houses.
“My team and I are working on a manifesto that will fully capture the creative imagination of the people of Barbados. That is one part of the story. But the next part of the story is that there is a need for a change because when something is broken and dysfunctional and is useless it must be gotten rid of and must be changed.”
The St. Peter MP maintained that Barbados is still “a wonderful country, with wonderful people, a country that can draw from the
psychic strength of its people who want this country to succeed”. He said for the first time in its history Barbados was led by a broken government.
Arthur maintained that a government cannot be like prisoner Winston Hall at large, it must be focused on the people’s business.
Barbados deserves a strong, focused and proper government if “we are going to lead Barbadians out of the present situation”, he added.
“We have a broken government and I want to relate that to the specific things that have brought us to this site, what aspects of this matter at Bagatelle speak to the issue of a broken government. But why is the Government broken?
A government is broken when the basis of government as expressed in our constitution no longer continues to be the basis of government’s operations,” he said.
“Our constitution requires that the Cabinet must not just be a collection of individuals, each a law unto himself or herself. Our Cabinet requires respect for the practice of collective responsibility. The Cabinet cannot be a mob.
“The Cabinet cannot be a set of men and women and in this instance, boys and girls — wild boys too each feeling that he or she can do their own thing. Once a decision is reached everybody is bound by it,” he added.
In Arthur’s view Barbados now had a cabinet government that had been converted into mob rule and he said the island could afford this and certainly did not deserve it.
The BLP leader said a serious government required strong and effective leadership capable of making decisions and making those decisions hold.
He stressed a strong leader is necessary, but the only thing a leader cannot do is to be there “as silent as a painted ship upon a painted ocean”.
The veteran politician said for the first time in the history of independent Barbados we have a leader who has now to bargain his place in his own Cabinet and that a strong government in which there was zero tolerance to incompetence was needed.
Arthur also refused to accept the idea that nothing could be done to correct the current economic crisis when a government Minister sat back and allowed $1 billion in revenue to be lost to the country and 2,700 jobs.
Addressing the issue of the Recycling facility at Bagatelle, Arthur was concerned about how that matter was being handled.
He recalled that when he was in office he had allowed the recycling facility to be located at Cane Garden, St. Thomas for a period of three years, acknowledging that no town planning permission was granted for the operations at Cane Garden.
He said in addition to town planning permission an environmental impact assessment study should have been carried out at Bagatelle because of the toxins that were likely to be released during the shredding process.
He pointed out that Cabinet did not have the authority to grant a change of use for the Bagatelle facility. (NC)