Outspoken Anglican cleric Reverend Charles Morris is calling on former Prime Minister Owen Arthur to return to the fold of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), while insisting that elected legislators should be prevented from breaking ranks in the middle of their terms to become Independent members of Parliament.
Suggesting that Arthur rethink the situation and throw his support behind the current BLP leadership, Morris told Barbados TODAY: “We all make mistakes, we all make decisions that we regret at some point so I would advise him to sit down and think this whole thing through again because it’s a kind of situation that baffles me.”
“We are not talking about an ordinary member, we are talking about a former prime minister, one of the most successful that we’ve had, if not the most, taking a stance like this. I believe that it will affect the Barbados Labour Party,” added Morris, a secondary school teacher who was recently censured as a public servant for saying at a BLP town hall meeting that the current Government is the worst this country has ever had.
The controversial priest said the “unfortunate” decision taken by Arthur to end his 43-year relationship with the BLP has highlighted shortcomings in the country’s system of governance and he is advising that political reform begin now.
“I do not believe that people should vote for a person and then that person up and leaves like that without consulting the people of the constituency. So you have just reduced my participation to an X. I do not believe the people of St Peter voted for an independent candidate . . . The people of St Peter voted for a member of the Barbados Labour Party and for that member to up and leave like that is unfair to the people of St Peter,” he said.
The clergyman made the comments on the heels of a meeting today with Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley.
While he did not state what that meeting was about, the Anglican priest was clear that he did not agree with the decision taken by Arthur last week.
“If he [Arthur] felt as strongly he should have resigned all together. I say that because in my judgement an action like that could very well destroy the legacy that he has put there. I have no doubt that he would have been the best Minister of Finance that we’ve ever had. This can have a negative impact on the legacy of his tenure,” he argued, adding that BLP parliamentarians need to come together and thrash out their issues.
“The question the BLP has to look for now is ‘what is the way forward? What are we going to do?’ You do not want to go into an election with issues hanging around. That leadership issue has been settled and they need to now look at the way forward.”
Reacting to the disclosure from Prime Minister Freundel Stuart that the administration is willing to work with the former prime minister, the cleric pulled no punches.
“To me the Government is like a drowning man clutching at straws. Mr Arthur would have made a number of suggestions in Budget speeches and that kind of thing and these were rejected by the Government. I remember the Minister of Finance taking him to task in the House of Assembly. Explain to me how you want to work with him now? Something is wrong, something is wrong with the political process in Barbados.
“What is glaring to me is the level of political reform that we need.”
He added: “What’s going on in Barbados now is a mockery of intellectual development in the 21st century; it’s a mockery of democracy.”