The Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) has dismissed concerns that its plans to stage a national “march of disgust” on Saturday will negatively impact on its preparedness for next week’s Estimates debate.
While updating reporters on plans for the march and rally during a briefing at Jubilee Gardens, The City, Tuesday morning, Dr Jerome Walcott responded to the criticisms levelled by former BLP leader Owen Arthur that the party was deviating from its own tradition of using the days leading up to the Estimates debate as time to prepare for the critical parliamentary exercise.
“Under Tom Adams, under Henry Forde, under Bernard St John, we would gather in and consult between the Wednesday and the Saturday morning and then on the weekend, we would bring everyone together and discuss and prepare ourselves for the Estimates,” said Arthur, in an interview with Barbados TODAY last week, in which he acknowledged that he could not tell the Mia Mottley-led BLP what to do. However, the former Prime Minister said: “I know what we used to do when the Labour Party was a serious Labour Party.”
In response, Walcott said Arthur’s concerns were unfounded, while assuring that the Opposition had done the necessary homework. He also suggested that, if anything, Saturday’s march should positively reinforce the pressing issues of the day, which Government needs to address by way of the Estimates.
“We are doing it on the eve of the Estimates to see if we can encourage the Government to modify their policies to be cognisant of the situation, so that is why it was done so that it would influence their thinking as they went into the Estimates,” the BLP general secretary said.
“We are not lost in terms of the Estimates. We have been doing our preparations and we as a party will be prepared for the Estimates when they start next Monday, but we have done this [the march] to heighten the interest and let the Government understand that the Estimates should not be about talking and assuming and pretending that everything is normal when in fact it is not,” he added.
Walcott also assured that all the necessary permissions had already been obtained in order for the party to proceed with the planned demonstration, for which it is hoping to attract a minumum of 5,000 people.
The BLP spokesman also addressed the perceived clash between his party’s march and that being staged by the “Life in Leggings” movement against gender-based violence, saying he did not expect any real “blowback”.
“Much was made of it in the media and certainly on Facebook in terms of persons trying to politicize one or the other. [However] we have met and there has been a peaceful resolution. The Life in Leggings march takes place at 2 p.m. on Saturday as they had previously planned, while ours takes place at 4:30 p.m. They would be leaving a Queen’s Park and returning to Queen’s Park,” explained Walcott.