It is as clear as a bright Barbados noon that our former Prime Minister
Owen Arthur does not intend to be answerable to his party leader Mia Mottley
any time soon –– or ever. And becoming even more pellucid now is that what
many of us were led to believe was just pettifogging between the two Barbados
Labour Party stalwarts has in fact manifested itself as a cankerous disseverment
by Mr Arthur.
It didn’t take Miss Mottley’s proposing his name for an Eminent Persons
Group to rile Mr Arthur to such unfettered dudgeon that he would write
a six-page letter of complaint –– not to his leader –– but of his leader
to a person of lower rank in the Opposition’s chain of command.
Such is the contempt with which the former Leader of the Opposition holds
his successor. Obviously unsuccessful at being “careful not to be a source of
discord” within the Barbados Labour Party, Mr Arthur finally confirmed within
the said letter what many others suspected but couldn’t be sure of: that he had
“a fundamental disagreement with the course of action being pursued”
on some matters, to wit “the process by which Miss Mottley was elected
to lead our party”.
According to Mr Arthur in his letter to Leader of Opposition Business in
Parliament Kerrie Symmonds, he had proposed to the parliamentary group that
before selecting a leader they should convene a meeting “to air some of the
very difficult issues that were afflicting” the relationship between him and Miss
Mottley, so that those matters might be put to rest –– hopefully for good.
This meeting apparently never obtained, as there was no great appetite for
it beyond Mr Arthur’s. A gathering there was, but according to Mr Arthur,
“not to serve its intended purpose, but to select a leader in my absence”. That
leader was Mia Mottley.
Are we now to assume that had there been Mr Arthur’s requested
clear-the-air gathering, and a subsequent meeting for election of leader at
which Mr Arthur would have been present that Miss Mottley would not have
been Leader of the Opposition today?
Interestingly, Mr Kerrie Symmonds lets the Press know that Mr Arthur’s
letter of complaint “represents continued and unresolved problems” ––
presumably between Arthur and Mottley –– “which we as a mature political
party should long [have] fixed, addressed and resolved”. Clearly, in that order
there could be no practical resolution.
But Mr Symmonds thinks that the sooner the Barbados Labour Party
prioritizes doing so, the better it would be for Barbados. We doubt that. The
alleged discomfort in which Mr Arthur has subsumed himself is a sad distraction
from more pressing national bread and butter issues, to which he could have
made a more significant contribution towards a solution for Barbados, as
against the BLP, given his experience, expertise in economics, his flashes of
wisdom, and the charisma of a statesman that he keeps locked up
At the risk of being deprecated or disesteemed by Mr Arthur, we are
publicly committing him to a more sober, stately and sensible approach to his
“fundamental” issues with his leader Miss Mottley, which his being a Member
of Parliament and a servant of the people, gives us every right and prerogative
to insist that he does.
Whatever were his failings and whatever are his current issues; whatever
pickle he has got himself into, there can be no denying that Owen Arthur was
one of our best Prime Ministers. And for this reason alone he has a bounden
duty as he rides out into the sunset to do so in the glory we would rather
This we wish Mr Arthur would be prepared to do. It is only in this way
that he can truly and properly serve out his term as the parliamentary
representative for St Peter without “embroiling” himself “in undignified conflict”
within the Barbados Labour Party. It is only in this way he can assure us he will
not bring his party into disrepute.
And if indeed he cannot, or will not, subject himself to the leadership of Miss
Mottley, he ought then to do the obvious honourable thing and retire from this
awkward and incommodious circumstance before him. There are others who
evidently have little or no problem with Miss Mottley’s position or role.
For Miss Mottley’s part, her response to the would-be anarchy was
nothing short of statesmanlike. By omission she would not be drawn into
the contention about her leadership. She would not be sidetracked from her
core concern over the stability and sustainability of the embattled Barbados
economy, and the destiny of those who face joblessness in the next few weeks.
It is not to go unnoticed that Miss Mottley too apologized to Mr Arthur for
proposing him (against his will?) for membership of the Eminent Persons
Group, and that she expressed sorrow for offending him.
And, it struck us not of grandiloquence