Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss today called on his party colleagues to stay focused.
He was speaking to Barbados TODAY against the backdrop of turmoil within the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) stemming from the expulsion last Sunday of Christ Church West MP Dr Maria Agard and seeming defiance of Opposition Leader Mia Mottley from St Andrew MP George Payne.
Speaking by telephone from Jamaica, Inniss told his DLP colleagues that now was not the time to be distracted by the goings-on within the BLP.
“ . . . We in the DLP must not be distracted nor must we rejoice in their confusion,” he said.
Inniss added: “The Dems must stay focused on maintaining our own relevance to the social, economic and political development of Barbados. We cannot dispel the realities of ordinary Barbadians and our duty to continue to work towards creating the right environment for each one to achieve their full potential.”
The long-time friend of Mottley stopped short of saying he supported her in the current dispute but emphasized it was the right of any organization to impose discipline, making clear that the duty fell to the leadership.
Inniss added that while he considered Mottley a political opponent, they related “well” with each other and therefore she was “not a personal enemy”.
“The fact that Mia Mottley is under immense pressure from a group of men in her party who are striving to remove her is not in itself going to solve any issues we have at a national level with unemployment, infrastructure or public finance,” he said, pointing out it was clear that “the parliamentary BLP is very divided”.
In relation to Payne’s comments that he believed Dr Agard will be a BLP candidate in the next general election, even though she has been expelled from the party, Inniss wondered “what disciplinary action will be taken against him”. This comment, he said, was “perhaps more damaging to the leadership of the current BLP”.
“To boldly state that [he believes] Miss Agard will be a candidate for the BLP in the next election is a serious condemnation of Miss Mottley and the present NEC [National Executive Council] of the BLP,” posited Inniss.
He went on: “Ms Mottley has never and will never have it easy as leader of the BLP. She ought to know why. Is it a gender issue? Because she is a Mottley from Sandy Lane? Or is it because, according to constituent Owen Arthur, she is a despot? Those are matters that Ms Mottley and the Bees will have to resolve.”
Inniss said the Opposition Leader had some “serious introspection” to do, suggesting that disciplinary action should also be taken against other members of the BLP. “And she will have to . . . determine to what extent she is prepared to continue to strive to lead people like [George] Payne, [Dale] Marshall, [Kerrie] Symmonds and [Ronald] Toppin et al,” he added.
“If she has the testicular fortitude of those four men combined, then she will rise above this foray. If she does not, then they will help her decide on [the] next steps. Either way, the public is now very much aware of what the current BLP is like.”
“If the Bees have dealt so frontally with [Dr] Maria Agard, then based on what I have seen in the public domain, there are ample reasons to discipline George Payne too. But I suspect that [BLP General Secretary] Jerome Walcott dares not touch Payne or any of his followers in the parliamentary group,” said Inniss.
Asked if he supported any move by Dr Agard to take the matter to the law courts, Inniss said that matter would be for her and her lawyers to decide.
Inniss said, nevertheless, that he believed the BLP would “strive to find ways to appear to come out of this as a united team to battle the DLP”. “Let there be no doubt about this,” he emphasized.