It was not a boycott, it was never intended to be, and the Barbados Labour Party’s withdrawal from 375th-year Parliament celebrations Friday was restricted to opposition parliamentarians and active members.
Leader of the Opposition, Mia Mottley, yesterday stressed these points after a number of former BLP parliamentarians and senior government ministers were seen at the event despite her declaration at a Carrington village political meeting a week ago that BLP members would not attend the function to mark the start of year-long anniversary celebrations.
On the matter of known party supporters attending the celebration in the courtyard of Parliament, she said, “Probably 50 per cent of the population support the labour party. None of the active members of the Barbados Labour Party were present. That other people can go it is entirely their option. As I said, this is not a political event, or a political issue”.
Further stressing that her party’s show of protest against Friday’s activity has to do with public money being expended amidst national economic constraints, Mottley said, “It’s fundamentally about trust… How can you build trust with people, and turn around, in circumstances where people already feel that they have been betrayed by the Government, and say do as I say but not as I do”.
“We hold firm that we believe that there are other ways that you can commemorate the 375th anniversary, you could go to church. We could have gone to church yesterday evening, and the royal family would have come the same way,” Mottley said yesterday while on tour of the Agrofest fair at Queens Park.
She added, “Secondly we need to let people know the truth, that the royal family did not leave England to come into this event. They were coming to Barbados anyhow, and Government chose to have that event and spend money while they were here”.
Mottley said the official celebration begins in June, “and we made it clear in the management commission [of Parliament] that we will participate in the joint sitting of Parliament. We will participate in the church service. We will participate in all of those things because there is no expenditure”.
Mottley repeated a statement made last Thursday when questioned on whether her party was rejecting the historic anniversary celebrations. “I said it was not a boycott, but that I would not know how to go into Parliament yard yesterday evening, in circumstances where people are being sent home, in circumstances where the drainage workers were being sent home, and told that money was not available”.
“At the end of the day that you cannot tell people that you are sending them home because you have no money, but then turn around at night and fete people with alcohol and food with the same money.”
She said attending the Friday event as a political leader was against her principles. “I wasn’t raised that way. I wouldn’t know how to tell people you have to go home because I have no money to pay you, and the same night turn around and spend a $100,000 for 90 minutes on food and drink, food an alcohol. I just don’t know how to.”