It was Harold Wilson, Labour prime minister for two terms in the 1960s and 1970s, who famously said “a week is a long time in politics”.
No truer words, politically, have ever been spoken –– especially when one considers the events of the past week in our own hallowed Parliament. Much indeed can happen in a short space of time.
And while it is going to take a lot longer than a week for the average Barbadian to swallow the latest dose of bitter medicine generously dished out by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler in his 2015/2016 Financial Statement And Budgetary Proposals, it will call for an equally lengthy period to forget the reply delivered by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley.
In a tactic imitative of one used by the late Tom Adams in the 1976 Budget Reply to discredit the then Errol Barrow-led Democratic Labour Party administration over a series of cheques allegedly paid to Government ministers by the notorious Sidney Burnett-Alleyne, Ms Mottley went to work on Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe and Minister of Transport Michael Lashley, whose BMW vehicles have been the subject of innuendo and rumour for several months now.
But it was her “exposé” on the Cahill Energy Project that really got Barbadians going.
“The consequences potentially for the country, financially and environmentally, are of such serious proportion that the whole of Barbados must now pause and have a conversation. The implications for the breaches of governance are such that, unlike any time since Cabinet Government has been introduced in this country, has there been a situation where four ministers of Government have been on a path that potentially has now exposed this country to millions, tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in liability,” she said.
Ms Mottley charged that the Government, in an MOU with the Guernsey-based enterprise last year, had been exposed to “tens or hundreds of millions in dollars in liability” as a result of the 30-year exclusive contract signed by four Government ministers, for which she said the company was not being held to any real environmental standards.
And she would give no quarter to Minister of Finance Sinckler and by extension the entire Freundel Stuart administration in a speech designed to “expose” them once and for all. By the time she was finished with her close to four-hour presentation, it seemed to everyone, even the politically uninitiated, that there was hardly any flesh left on this Government’s
In fact, all that appeared to be left was for Two Son’s or some other undertaker enterprise to drive up to Parliament Buildings and pick up what was left of its corpses.
But alas! When one would have thought there was no way out for the ruling administration, Mr Sinckler and cohorts would find several cracks in the Crab Hill Police Station through which they could climb, while putting the proverbial spotlight blindingly on Ms Mottley.
Her scurrilous accusations against the Government would not be allowed to stand for a day, much less a week.
And after having the entire nation hanging on to her every word, we would all be left to hang our heads in shame, while our Opposition Leader cowered behind the bushes like the fallen emperor with no clothes and nothing left but spent rubber bullets.
In her defence, we do believe she was on to something in relation to the entire Trans-Tech Inc. affair, and that those accusations are in need of further investigation and sanction as necessary.
However, as our Prime Minister-in-waiting, Ms Mottley also cannot allow the current accusations levelled against her to stand. Lest, we would all be left to think she is no more an angel than the same Messrs Lashley and Lowe whom she would have us crucify in Parliament Square at high noon.
We look forward therefore to her clarification of her academic record as a respected attorney-at-law; so too other charges surrounding her tenure as a politician, which were spat across the Parliament floor.
For as Harold Wilson reminds us, the vagaries of politics are known to change and change very quickly –– and in short time –– and we would not want the political tide to so swing out of her favour, that instead of the $200 million-seeking taxman, “everybody hates Mia”.