Outspoken minister Donville Inniss is suggesting he would be a fool to disregard “the strong message” sent by Barbadians who took to the streets of the capital on Saturday in a March of Disgust against the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
His comment appeared to be a slight against DLP General Secretary George Pilgrim, who yesterday dismissed the estimated 10,000 people who protested against Government’s handling of the economy as a rent a crowd, paid by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to show up and feign disgust.
However, concerned that the protest could very well be the DLP’s ‘Ides of March’, Inniss this morning told the media in a candid interview following his feature address to launch the Global Value Chain Analysis workshop at Accra Beach Hotel, those who ignored the march was doing so at their own peril.
“I certainly paid great attention to the march. I think anytime you have a sizeable portion of the population taking to the streets, albeit in a very civilized manner, they are sending a message and the Government must take note.
“I, certainly as a minister, have taken very copious note of the message being sent and not necessarily by the Barbados Labour Party alone, but there may be other individuals who are not aligned to the BLP who have a sense of annoyance with the Government. I will be a fool to sit here and believe all is well,” Inniss said.
The Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development has a history of publicly criticizing his own administration, often adopting positions that are contrary to those espoused by the DLP or the administration, although he has never voted against Government in Parliament.
This latest position is sure to provide even more ammunition to those who see him as one who has recognized the DLP’s falling popularity and is prepared to throw his own administration under the proverbial bus in order to save his skin.
Inniss today all but confirmed this impression of him when he made it clear he was not the least bit worried of being accused of not towing the party line, and he had no qualms about breaking ranks with the Freundel Stuart administration in the interest of political self-preservation.
In fact, the Member of Parliament for St James South, one of the so-called Eager 11, who in 2011 sought to replace Stuart before “cold feet” by some caused the plot to fail, appeared to take a jab at the Prime Minister by making reference to “those who say nothing”- a general criticism of Stuart.
“Every politician has a right to try to preserve himself, don’t let anybody fool you about that; even those who say nothing. I am a Barbadian first and foremost and I am the parliamentary representative for St James South and it is my intention to continue to do that. I have also been a member of the DLP for almost 33 years and therefore, whatever one may say about self-preservation, the simple truth of the matter is that I live in a very real world and I observe what is going on around me.
“There are times when you are going on a route that you may think is the best course until you listen to others who then say to you that perhaps there is another route that you have to take. I think that the people of Barbados are speaking . . . . If people think that my comments are selfish then tough luck for them, but I have to do and say what is in the best interest of Barbados first,” Inniss said, even as he insisted he remained a proud member of the Freundel Stuart Cabinet.
Despite the message which Inniss said Barbadians had sent to the administration through the march, he was optimistic that the public’s confidence in the DLP administration would rise in the coming months as Government makes the necessary fiscal adjustments to lower the deficit and increase the dwindling foreign reserves.
“This is a work in progress. As a Government we have made some mistakes along the way. I don’t think we have been as effective in our communication. I ask myself everyday if I have made mistakes and if I have, I am prepared to learn from them. Barbados continues to have challenges and we are committed to finding the solutions,” he said.