When Minister of Housing Denis Kellman branded social activist David Comissiong an enemy of the state, he not only took the island back to the repressive 1937 period of slave rebellion, but also used the language of German henchmen associated with war criminal Adolph Hitler, an Opposition parliamentarian has charged.
Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Chairman George Payne last night drew that comparison as he welcomed party members and supporters to the Grantley Adams Memorial Lecture delivered by development economist and BLP candidate for St Michael South Central Marsha Caddle at the Grand Salle of the Central Bank.
Payne further warned that the social progress brought about by Adams, who was Barbados’ first Premier, was now threatened by an administration that was “not only incapable of grappling with the problems facing the country, but is also bent on shaking the very pillars of governance which Sir Grantley Adams fully embraced”.
In a clear reference to legal action being taken by Comissiong to block the construction of the multi-million dollar Hyatt Centric Resort on Bay Street, St Michael, Kellman said in Parliament last month that “anybody who stands in the way should be seen as an enemy not only of the State, but must be seen as an enemy to the people who are also living in the [nearby] London Bourne Towers”.
In response, Payne said those comments, as well as others flowing from the lips of Cabinet ministers and other members of the ruling Democratic Labour Party showed utter contempt and complete lack of respect for the Barbadian people they represent and the democratic right of freedom of speech, which is enshrined in the Constitution.
“Minister Kellman’s classification of persons disagreeing with Government policies as enemies of the state is comparable to the language of the slave masters who kept us in bondage before we were rescued by Sir Grantley. It is a language of the communist hardliners in the time of the Cold War. It is rhetoric of Hitler’s henchmen during the Jewish holocaust,” he said.
Payne, the parliamentary representative for St Andrew, was also highly critical of Government ministers Ronald Jones and Steve Blackett for making what he saw as inflammatory remarks, and Member of Parliament for St John Mara Thompson, who recently referred to two Opposition MPs as being childless.
In talking about the upcoming elections, Blackett had warned of blood running in the streets while Jones had spoken in Parliament a few years ago of the possibility of the military having to “crack some heads” to retain law and order on the island.
“Messrs Blackett and Jones’ vitriol of spilling blood in the streets and cracking heads takes us back to the dark days of 1937, when Sir Grantley Adams risked his own life to represent his colleagues in the struggle against oppression,” Payne said, adding that Thompson’s March 17 attack on Opposition Leader Mia Mottley and St Michael South East Member of Parliament Santia Bradshaw was “unfortunate, insulting and disrespectful” to
the legacy of Dame Ermie Bourne, the first woman to enter the House of Assembly in Barbados.
Also critical of the behaviour of ruling party MPs was the BLP’s St Peter candidate Colin Jordan.
“All of this would be comical if it weren’t coming from those who were elected to lead this country,” said Jordan, who was last night’s master of ceremonies.
Wrapping up last night’s event, Mottley also expressed her disgust over Thompson’s comments.
She said not having children did not prevent her from knowing how a mother would feel, as she pointed to the emotional ride with young party candidates whom she had nurtured to political maturity since 2009, such as Bradshaw, Wilfred Abrahams, Arthur Holder, Indar Weir, Sandra Husbands, Peter Phillips, and Ian Gooding-Edghill.
Though these candidates have had mixed fortunes at the polls, Mottley said they continually gave of their best and she had
seen them develop and mature into Barbadians who simply wanted to make a positive difference.
She also said having gone back to the drawing board, the party was able to find Jordan, who became the first of the new BLP crop that includes candidates Ryan Straughn, Kirk Humphrey, Neil Rowe, Adrian Forde, John King, Dr Sonia Brown, and Caddle.
“So when people say that a person who has not given birth to a child does not appreciate what mothers feel, I am here to say to them I know what it is to nurture a group of people and to see them mushroom and blossom to be ready for the task at hand,” Mottley said.