There can often be a high degree of cannibalism that exists in politics across the globe. And average Barbadian citizens are not spared from having the practice exercised in their plain sight.
A Barbados Labour Party politician once described St Thomas MP Cynthia Forde as akin to a chattel house sitting on prime real estate. Within the context of party politics, here were two individuals likely at some stage to sit, break bread, and drink wine together. Yet, in an act that the commendable Miss Forde is likely never to forget, she was dismissed as not worthy of being the occupant of what is considered a safe Barbados Labour Party riding.
In the 1999 General Election the Democratic Labour Party was annihilated 26 to two at the polls leaving St John MP and future Prime Minister David Thompson and St Lucy MP Denis Kellman to lick the wounds of the party
from across the unwanted side of Parliament. What followed was the stuff of which political cannibalism is made.
That the two did not get along was apparent to anyone with a modicum of interest in parliamentary life, or to those who sat in the Gallery and watched the two ignore each other sitting after sitting. Indeed, Mr Kellman challenged Mr Thompson’s leadership of the party and refused to support his leader on occasions in the Lower House.
It came as no surprise, following Mr Thompson’s assumption of the office of Prime Minister, that Mr Kellman, the other most senior member of the Democratic Labour Party, was never considered for the front bench and remained firmly rooted on the back bench up to the death of Prime Minister Thompson. Mr Kellman had paid for his brand of loyalty.
Before, the drama of two erstwhile friends in Mr Thompson and former DLP Opposition Leader Clyde Mascoll had played itself out in the public domain with a sense of distaste that eventually led to Mr Mascoll distancing himself from the organization he once served with great fervour.
Fast-forward to 2010, and the cannibals were at it again. This time the target was St Michael North-East MP Mia Mottley. Unlike Miss Forde, Miss Mottley was not described as a chattel house, nor was her constituency highlighted as prime real estate. But the feeding frenzy in the Barbados Labour Party that coincided with Prime Minister David Thompson’s sickness and subsequent death was fuelled by a desire to make an opportunistic grab for political power.
In the run-up to the 2013 General Election another piece of prime real estate was on the radar of those with political ambitions. With St James North MP Rawle Eastmond battling health and other issues, but still indicating an interest to contest the seat, the devourers of political flesh were back at it again.
Mr Eastmond publicly accused those with whom he had previously broken bread and drank wine of conspiring against him. As members of his party’s hierarchy insisted on his being a part of a nomination process, Mr Eastmond accused his colleagues of padding his branch’s voting list as part of the strategy to push him out of the riding. The rest is history. Mr Eastmond has faded into it.
Dateline 2015. And the new target appears to be Christ Church West MP Dr Maria Agard. She appears to be fighting for her political survival. She recently admitted to having had health challenges, which she has overcome, and is now back to serving her constituents as best as she can as an Opposition representative. Again, those with whom she would have broken bread and drunk wine are those now armed with knives and forks, and relishing the taste of human flesh.
We hold no brief for Miss Agard. But under normal circumstances, when a family member returns home from dealing with a personal crisis, he or she is met with affection and a demonstration of willingness to assist in the rehabilitation process. Families provide support, counsel and patience. Some pick up the slack of physical endeavour until the individual has returned to his or her best possible station. But it appears in the world of politics such niceties are untenable luxuries.
There have been suggestions that the recent decision by BLP general secretary Jerome Walcott to distance himself from the Christ Church South riding is the prelude to his appearance in Christ Church West. We do not know.
But based on the examples set in the sagas of Mr Kellman, Mr Thompson, Mr Mascoll, Miss Mottley, Mr Eastmond, Miss Forde, and the many shadowy operatives in both the DLP and BLP, Miss Agard will do well to appreciate that some of those with whom she breaks bread and drinks wine also view her as a sumptuous meal.