Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is not prepared to let Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Members of Parliament off the hook, following their decision to abstain from last week’s constitutional amendment vote.
In fact, he said it was nothing short of “spineless”, as he also sought to compare the behaviour of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to that displayed by children in diapers, while warning that he did not come into politics “to breastfeed political infants”.
“When I joined the Democratic Labour Party in 1969, I didn’t come to change political nappies, I came to embark on the serious task of making the lives of the people of Barbados better,” warned Stuart, adding, “Anybody who wants me to come and whisper in their ears, whisper sweet nothings, and to make them feel good, is looking to the wrong man.”
Last Tuesday, the Prime Minister led off debate in Parliament on the constitutional amendment, which was aimed at extending the retirement age of both the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Auditor General from 62 and not 67, bringing them in line with other public servants as of January 2018.
However, the measure, which required two-thirds majority support, was defeated as members of the Opposition BLP withheld their support.
Addressing DLP faithful at a Christ Church West constituency luncheon on Sunday, Stuart said that following the failure of the Government-proposed amendment; he was told by Mottley he should have discussed the matter with her and “that if only I had talked to her she might have changed her mind”.
Stuart also said other BLP MPs had told him “they didn’t understand that [the constitutional amendment] is what it meant.
However, Stuart responded on Sunday saying, “I did not come into politics to breastfeed political infants.”
He said the reason that the proposed constitutional amendment had to be brought to the House last week was because it was not done in 2004 under the BLP Government, when Mottley as Attorney General brought and had approved by the House, the Pensions Miscellaneous Provisions Act that changed the national age of retirement to 67.
At that time no change was made to the provisions of the Office of DPP and Auditor General.
“We went there [Parliament] to clean up mess that they created, and even the stench of their own mess did not offend their nostrils,” Stuart said of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2016 that has failed to win parliamentary approval.
“They could not bring themselves around to accepting that in the year 2004, when the Pensions Miscellaneous Provisions Act was passed . . . that they should also have amended the Constitution of Barbados to protect the rights of the Auditor General and the Director of Public Prosecutions,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that instead of supporting the amendment, Mottley “was able on Tuesday in the House of Assembly to get the people whom she leads to follow her into abstaining from a vote to clean up a mess that she created”.
Stuart said his Government had nothing to lose in the abstained vote that killed the amendment bill, “but it will stand there as a monument to the spinelessness of people like Kerrie Symmonds, and Edmund Hinkson, and Ronald Toppin, and Jeffrey Bostick, and Gline Clarke.
“A collection of spineless men – they have spines but they had them on mortgage to Mia Mottley – they were not carrying them at the time.
“If they wanted to be real men they would have to borrow their spines from her, but she has them on mortgage, and therefore they could not vote against her will because I am told she has a file on all of them so when she says jump, they have to ask how high.
“Their spinal cords were with her, and they could only be men, if they borrow back their spines from her in order to put on the appearance of men”.