Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur has come in for a blistering tongue lashing from Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who contends that he betrayed his working-class roots when he handed reins of Barbados’ oldest political party to Mia Mottley.
Stuart charged that Arthur, who has often referenced his humble beginnings as the son of shopkeepers, did not see it fit to elevate someone from his class of origin but instead handed the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) back to the “elitist influences that have always controlled it.”
“You got the opportunity to lead the BLP in 1993 and ran it for 15 years,” Stuart said in an address geared at rallying the base of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) during the Opening Gala of the party’s 62nd conference, held at the George Street Auditorium, St Michael on Friday night.
“And this is what I have against you, because after 15 years of leading the Barbados Labour Party, given your origin and the support that went into your foundation, when you were ready to give the Barbados Labour Party you had not brought along anybody from your class to whom you could hand it, you had to hand it back to the conservatives.
“I said to him, as far as I am concerned, that is a blotch on your record, on the other hand ” said Stuart, who was recounting a private conversation he had with Arthur on the subject.
Stuart added that since Arthur had failed to protect the BLP and by extension the country from exclusionary and elitist politics, the burden was now on him [Stuart] to shield Barbados.
“Arthur didn’t correct it so it falls on me to correct it because in keeping with the theme for our conference I have to put Barbados first. I am not ashamed to be a Bajan and I do not believe that the best interest of Barbados will be served or can be served allowing an arch-conservative in the Barbados Labour Party to preside over the destiny of working class men and women in this country,” Stuart said.
“I have said before that I don’t attack people in politics, I explain them and the time is coming not too long from now when I would have a chance to do that explanation. I said then and I would say tonight, attacks don’t really last. People will have a good time and laugh but the effects don’t really last.
However, an explanation on the other hand, last and somebody has to put him or herself through the trouble to explain the present leader of the Barbados Labour Party to Barbadians and I am going to do it,” Stuart said to an eruption of applause from the auditorium.