The Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is more united today than it was two years ago.
This assurance from BLP stalwart Sir Richard Cheltenham, with the current BLP leader Mia Mottley and her predecessor Owen Arthur, who quit the party back in 2014, seemingly at cross purposes.
Reacting to the latest criticisms levelled this week by Arthur against Mottley for seemingly upholding the country’s unions in what he termed “disrespect” for the very office she aspires to hold, Sir Richard pointed out that with Arthur’s departure from the BLP it was now a more united political force which he is confident will win the next general election.
“The point is that there is total unity in the ranks of the Barbados Labour Party. That was not so two years ago, but that is so now,” Sir Richard told Barbados TODAY in an exclusive interview in which he acknowledged that “a week is a long time in politics and we could be six months to nine months away from the next election.
“A lot could happen between now and then, but I doubt however, that anything will cause a reversal of the people’s seeming rigid determination to get rid of Stuart and his administration. But we will wait and see,” he said.
At the same time, he acknowledged the obvious political tensions between Mottley and Arthur, who he said at one point “did a lot to promote Mia Mottley, but for some reason there seems to have developed a fracture in their relationship.
“I know that she continues to reach out, but Arthur seems to have some very rigid views about here.
“I don’t know that they are any longer balanced views,” he told Barbados TODAY while seemingly coming down on Mottley’s side in the current controversy.
However, disagreement or no disagreement, Sir Richard doubted there was anything the former Prime Minister could do at this stage to affect Mottley’s standing in the eyes of the Barbadian electorate, on the heels of a recent public opinion poll which showed that the current Opposition Leader was the number one choice for prime minister.
“From all that I know of and I have seen, I dont think that will affect her standing,” he said.
As for Arthur, Cheltenham noted that the current independent Member of Parliament for St Peter had already indicated that he would be bowing out of competitive politics when the curfrent parliamentary term comes to an end.
However, he acknowledged that Arthur still had “a right, and indeed he has a lot of good sense and experience when he is speaking on the Barbados economy and I don’t know that he should stop speaking about that, but in terms of individuals and Ms Mottley herself, I think that his continuing adverse comments on Mia is perhaps to be seen as unfortunate.”
Asked if the BLP was holding out hope of the two mending fences, Sir Richard said: “Always, it is a good thing that when people have differences, that they should resolve them in a brotherly and Christian sort of way . . . but time may be the only healer there, but it is interesting to note that in all of this, Ms Mottley never attacks him.
“That is very significant. I think the press overlooked that. This man is always attacking this lady, but this lady has nothing adverse to say about him.”