Two Caribbean leaders have expressed surprise at Owen Arthur’s decision to end his 43-year relationship with the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), with one suggesting that he still has more to offer Barbados.
Baldwin Spencer, who was recently removed from office in Antigua and Barbuda after serving two consecutive terms as prime minister, told Barbados TODAY he believed something of a “deeper nature between the current leader and the former leader” must have influenced Arthur’s decision to severe his relationship with the BLP.
“I would want to believe it wasn’t an easy decision. I would want to believe that he would have taken some time to reflect upon this and to have come to a conclusion that under the set of circumstances that he would have had to contend with over the past years that this might be the best way to go,” he said.
“I would imagine that this might have been somewhat of a painful decision for someone who has been with that party for over 40 years. It’s not easy to make that kind of break, especially in a situation where you would have served as the longest prime minister under the banner of the BLP, and he would have also led the party in opposition on at least two occasions.”
Last Friday, Arthur handed in a one-line resignation letter to the BLP, an institution he once headed for 17 years. He retains his St Peter seat in Parliament as representative for St Peter, but he will sit as an Independent MP. The former BLP leader, who has been publicly at odds with Mottley, told journalists that the party had lost its direction and its soul.
Spencer said he has not sure whether this could signal “the beginning of the end of his direct political career”.
“Owen Arthur would have made a tremendous contribution to the development of Barbados. He would have influenced the direction which the Caribbean has been going and also defended it and would have supported fully the interest of the Caribbean in the international arena,” he noted.
“I would hope that his decision is one that would be of benefit to Barbados, not so much from the party political stand point, but from what he may be able to inject from where he sits in Parliament, what he may be able to inject . . . to the governance of Barbados and, by extension, what it might signal for the rest of the Caribbean.”
While noting that Arthur and Mottley were a good “tag team” during the BLP’s time in Government, the Antigua and Barbuda official said he was also aware of the friction between the two.
Asked his advice to Arthur and Mottley, Spencer responded: “I would hope that he [Arthur] would use the opportunity to make his contribution both in and outside the Assembly of Barbados in advancing the cause of Barbados and by so doing extend that to the region. I don’t think that it would be any kind of rejoicing on her [Mottley] part. I don’t think this should be reason to create further dissension and further misgivings and disunity within the BLP.”
Meantime, in a short statement to Barbados TODAY on the issue Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis Dr Denzil Douglas said: “It’s difficult to contemplate that former Prime Minister Arthur would leave a party that he has nurtured, a party of which he has been a member for all of these year.”
Douglas said he could not comment any more on the issue in light of ongoing problems within his own St Kitts and Nevis Labour Party.