Political scientist Peter Wickham has described as “bizarre” suggestions that former Prime Minister Owen Arthur could lead the Freundel Stuart administration’s economic advisory team, saying the announcement helped stroke the former Barbados Labour Party (BLP) leader’s ego.
Barbados TODAY reported last week – and Arthur confirmed – that the former Prime Minister had been approached to replace the retiring Sir Frank Alleyne as head of Government’s economic advisory council, which reviews and recommends policy positions for Cabinet approval.
Neither Stuart nor Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler has confirmed the approach and Arthur has yet to say whether or not he will accept the offer.
Wickham told Barbados TODAY this was a “bizarre turn of events” but that he was not surprised that Arthur would consider the proposal.
“Certainly [he] would want to tell people that the offer has been made because it’s a tribute to his intellect and I also think it’s a tribute to his ego. But I’m appalled quite frankly that he would consider taking a post in a Government that he so bitterly criticized,” he said.
The political scientist reserved his “shock” for Stuart who he said had made it clear that he had no need for eminent persons and that the eminence of his ministers was sufficient.
He added that the offer was an admission from Stuart that “what he said at that time was in fact not correct” and that there was indeed a role for eminent persons beyond the reach of his cabinet and a need for Arthur “who he so bitterly criticized in the last election.”
This was in reference to the rejection by both Arthur and Stuart of a recommendation made by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley for the establishment of an eminent person group on the economy and that the St Peter MP be part of that group.
Wickham questioned why Arthur, having rejected Mottley’s proposal, now seemed amenable to the idea.
“I listened very carefully to the recording of what he said when that was proposed and he said that the idea was preposterous, I think those were the words that he used. He said that the executive has a role to play in terms of the management of the Government, and that he felt that getting involved at that level in an advisory capacity would be the Barbados Labour Party allowing the Democratic Labour Party to get off the hook.
“So my thing is that you’re now going against your own advice where you’re saying it would have been unwise, turned down the DLP offer but now he seems to be quite frankly willing,” Wickham said.
Arthur has indicated that he could use his expertise for the benefit of the country in the new role, but Wickham appeared unconvinced.
“I have no difficulty with national service and that’s the reason why I thought it was a good idea when Ms Mottley recommended it the first time. But clearly both himself and the Prime Minister were of the opinion that it was unwise, and my question is, what has happened now that has made this whole idea wise? Is it because Ms Mottley has not suggested it? Or is it because the two gentlemen have had an epiphany and they now feel that what they thought before was so unwise has now become wise?”