More dissent appears to be brewing among the ranks of the parliamentary Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) as outspoken MP Trevor Prescod calls on the National Executive Council (NEC) to use the power vested in it to discipline members found in breach of the party’s rules.
In an interview today at his Tichbourne home, Prescod did not identify any particular BLP member by name for censure, although he did express strong regret that a senior member of the BLP had publicly attacked the Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley.
The St Michael East MP did however reveal that he had asked the party to set a deadline for the resolution of outstanding issues, including the Edmund Hinkson/George Payne lawsuit that is currently before the courts.
He also said that the episode in which Rommell Marshall was seen to be in breach of the party’s rules, based on comments made in the media, had also helped to shape his current thoughts.
“Marshall was a minister of Government, but most persons who understand the discipline of sociology will know that there are individuals in society who are considered to be ‘significant others’ and then there are others who exist on the social and economic periphery.
“The party had the ‘guts and the courage’ to act against Marshall without a hearing and he was so sure that the decision would not be in his favour that he resigned to avoid embarrassment.
“Other people in my view have done things more damaging to the party. In my opinion, the other persons’ indiscretions merit firmer action. I certainly do not respect institutions or individuals behaving in that kind of discriminatory manner in trying to resolve issues,” he said.
When pressed on the matter of expulsion of members, Prescod made clear: “I can ask that question, but I do not have the power to make that determination if members should be expelled from the institution or not.”
However, Barbados TODAY has been independently informed that former Prime Minister Owen Arthur was among those singled out at a recent NEC meeting for censorship.
This was on account of recent public utterances which have been deemed to fly in the face of the current leader Mottley, whom Arthur said he had he had lost all confidence in last December.
Arthur’s absence for the crucial vote on the Estimates back in March, when a divide was called for in Parliament, has also aroused the wrath of some within the party, so much so that it was the subject of discussion when the NEC met in April.
“It didn’t reach the level of a call for expulsion, but there were a number of issues that came out –– not connected to the former Prime Minister,” said NEC member Winston Stafford, who also spoke to Barbados TODAY about the problems in the party.
He said on that occasion “one member had the temerity to express himself and it opened up a lot of baggage that people were walking around with for years”.
Stafford expressed disappointment about where the party was at, adding that “it is about order, having systems in place . . . I’m disappointed about where we are at”.
Prescod was more guarded on the NEC meeting –– although he did admit to having raised a number of issues.
“. . . I was not the only person involved in asking specific questions. I was hoping that we would find a civil way in having these issues resolved. I asked the NEC to exercise the power vested in it, to assert itself in resolving some of these issues. I felt they should not go beyond the institution itself. I believed that this was a very reasonable proposal, because at present the Barbadian public is in a state of hopelessness,” Prescod explained.
”There is a lot of frustration in the society. It is being felt that an effort should be made to bring the country back to a level of social and economic equilibrium. Now I do not feel that the people are happy with the present administration. The alternative in our political culture is that when one political party is out, the other is in. At present the people are not happy with the Democratic Labour Party as a Government, but there is a sense of bewilderment at the way the BLP is responding to the issues,” Prescod added.
In further commenting on the instability in the BLP, Prescod said: “The party has to step back and re-examine itself, put aside the selfishness and in some cases the passion for greed. Persons who have been benefiting from the institution over the years have an infinite passion to be in the seat of power again.
“They have set about on a programme of distortions and misinformation. It is a lot of propaganda and can descend to petty gossip. I have not seen any signs of serious discourse on the development of the country to tell me we are ready.”