There are at least two striking similarities between former British prime minister Harold Wilson and our own Freundel Stuart worthy of mention.
Firstly, it was the sudden death of Hugh Gaitskellin in 1963 that ushered Mr Wilson into political leadership, just as David Thompson’s death would have created the opportunity for Mr Stuart to rise to the helm.
Labour would win the next election with a slim majority, like our own Mr Stuart, Mr Wilson would become the country’s prime minister. It was however in the lead up to the 1964 election that he supposedly coined the famous phrase, ‘A week is a long time in politics’, no doubt reflecting his own surprise over the unexpected political turn of events.
Fast forward to Monday, February 27, 2017 and the announcement that former Prime Minister Owen Arthur had been approached to take on the role of chief advisor to the ruling Democratic Labour Party Government.
Had we not been the ones who broke the story, and were we not 100 per cent certain of its veracity, given the quality of our sources, than maybe we too would have reacted liking a “doubting Wickham”, who suggested that Barbados TODAY had added ‘two plus two’ and arrived at six.
But as fate would have it, Mr Arthur would step forward on that same day to set the record straight, so that even if the goodly political scientist still does not have any faith in Mr Arthur’s economic policies, he could rest easier that at least the information he is being fed by us has been fact checked.
Equally so, our goodly Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss, who was quick to haul us over the coals on Tuesday morning for “irresponsible” reporting “which others take and run with as gospel”.
We could only conclude, as Mr Arthur has since suggested, that he was not among the trusted cohorts who the Minister of Finance had spoken to ahead of time. But that is never an excuse for anyone, least of all a progressive minister with leadership ambitions, to be seemingly behaving like a Donald Trump.
For if there was anyone who should have been outraged by Mr Arthur’s comments this week, it really should have been Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, who he accused of all manner of evil – from ‘masterminding’ his expulsion from the Barbados Labour Party back in 2014 to ‘orchestrating’ her own party’s political defeat in the last poll.
We believe that these charges by Mr Arthur are serious enough to warrant a public response by Ms Mottley, even if her political advisors may want to suggest otherwise.
However, all we have been able to get so far is a no comment from our Opposition Leader, while seemingly out-of-control BLP yardfowls parade in the dark, levelling one foolish threat or another.
If Mr Arthur lied to us, well come out and tell us so. And even if he did not, the country is owed an explanation as to why we were all made to believe all along that he was the political villain, who was bent on revenge and motivated by hate and not the hapless victim of a tragic political love story in which the behaviour of the protagonist degenerated to the level of madness seen in Shakespeare’s King Lear.
In the same way that Ms Mottley has been relentless in recent months in her calls for Mr Stuart to ‘come clean’ and to level with the people of Barbados on everything from water to garbage to sewage, we urge that she too would always strive to keep us in her confidence, and on this occasion submit herself, as Mr Arthur has done, to full and frank questioning – and not on the side of the road after ‘rubbing shoulders or in any ‘press conference’ where the microphone is being tossed repeatedly back and forth to VOB’s studio’s either.
It’s time for Ms Mottley to have a serious sit down with the Press to help us understand as well why her party feels it is more important right now to march in disgust than to focus on its response to this year’s Estimates.
Given today’s latest downgrade by Standard & Poor’s, which makes us a ‘CCC’, does election come before economy, or economy before elections?
We the voice of the concerned electorate want to know.
After all, Ms Mottley is for all intents and purposes our ‘prime minister in waiting’ and never once would we want to have it said, as David Comissiong said of Mr Arthur last evening that ‘Ms Mottley is just like DEM too’.