Despite publicly heaping praise on former Barbados Labour Party (BLP) leader Owen Arthur, one of the party’s political hopefuls is making it clear that he’s committed to that institution and will be sticking with it through thick and thin.
Former government senator and BLP candidate for St Michael North West in the last elections, Gregory Nicholls, said today that Opposition Leader Mia Mottley has his “unwavering support”.
In a posting on his Facebook Page following Arthur’s resignation and move to sit as an Independent in Parliament, Nicholls referred to the former prime minister as his political father.
“Today, my father died,” he began, noting that he was speaking about a man who had been his political mentor for the last 15 years.
“Owen Seymour Arthur will always be for me, the most influential figure in my sojourn in politics and the reason I joined the fray and ceased to be a cynic on party politics in the Caribbean. His passion for the economic development of my country of birth was enviable and unassailable . . . I will always cherish the occasions where I sat and listened to a colossus on the development of Barbados,” he wrote, in part.
But speaking to Barbados TODAY, Nicholls said his praise of Arthur should not be interpreted as any dissatisfaction with Mottley’s leadership.
He stressed his commitment to the Opposition Leader and said she should be given an opportunity to lead the BLP in the next general elections
“Arthur was political leader of the BLP when I joined the party and he gave up leadership in 2008 when Mottley assumed the leadership. I gave her no less respect or effort on my part . . . My support for the party is not contingent on who is leading. Mottley is the current leader and unless something untoward happens to her she has my unwavering support. This does not mean that I cannot admire the giant of a man, Arthur,” he said.
“I look forward with eager anticipation to his contribution as an elder statesman. When he is critical of my party I will accept his comments as the positions of a man who has been involved in public policy both in Barbados and Jamaica for the last 40 years and accept his criticism as from a well spring of experience. However, I will be supporting the BLP in everything it does.”
The attorney-at-law gave the assurance that he would make any contribution asked of him by the party and he looked forward to being a candidate for the BLP when the next elections are called.
Meantime, Nicholls has dismissed claims that there are factions within the BLP.
“In opposition parties there should always be strong contests for leadership. If the assumption of leadership in an opposition party is to mean that a person has been enthroned as a monarch and is free from any challenge – intellectually, politically or otherwise – then something is wrong with that political institution. Politics has to remain a contest of ideas,” he said.
“It does not mean that anyone who has a different point of view as to the strategy of the party is opposed to Mottley or creating a faction looking to overtake her as leader. I will not associate with any kind of nonsense . . . [In] a party as old as the BLP, and as diverse a grouping, there will be no unanimity in terms of a political perspective.”
Meantime, BLP parliamentarians have remained tightlipped about the discussions they held at party headquarters yesterday to determine the way forward following Arthur’s departure.
However, tourism executive Colin Jordan who is seen as a possible candidate for the BLP in the St Peter constituency has indicated he is willing to run for the party.
“I have been asked by individuals to consider representing those who live in my constituency. I have indicated my willingness to do so,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“You must, however, be aware that the people of St Peter decide who represents them. In the fullness of time the St Peter branch of the Barbados Labour Party will make the decision on who will represent them in any future election. The executive and members are well able to make that decision. I trust the people and will respect their decision.”