Former Government minister Elizabeth Liz Thompson has described Opposition Leader Mia Mottley as “a sinner” on the road to reform, who should not be disqualified from serving as prime minister.
Thompson, one of Mottley’s longtime associates and her former Cabinet colleague, mounted a spirited defence of the Opposition Leader on Sunday, while suggesting that this island’s former leaders were by no means saints and that Mottley was as suitable as any for the highest elected office in the land.
“Mia Mottley is a sinner seeking grace like the rest of us . . . . She may not be a saint. She would tell you that she is a sinner. And I am telling you she is not a scoundrel that the Democratic Labour Party is painting her to be,” said Thompson, who was given the stage at the 79th annual conference of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) at Queen’s Park yesterday.
Responding to the suggestion made by the governing Democratic Labour Party (DLP) that the next election campaign will be fought on morality, Thompson argued that “partly because she [Mottley] is female and partly because people see that she is coming from ‘privilege’ – whatever that is . . . she is being held to a different standard and she is being disqualified from leadership because of false flaws and foibles”.
She also suggested that Mottley’s political opponents were seeking to disqualify her because, “they are men and she is a woman so she is to be judged by a different standard.
“They are deserving of forgiveness and can serve, but she is to be excoriated and excommunicated from public life,” Thompson said, while pointing to a warning issued by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler weeks ago that this upcoming election campaign would be the dirtiest Barbados has ever seen.
Agreeing with him to some extent, she said it would be “a campaign about rumour and salacious gossip”, before wading into National Hero and former DLP leader Errol Walton Barrow, former BLP leaders Tom Adams and Owen Arthur, along with current Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and his deceased predecessor David Thompson.
In Stuart’s case, Thompson said he was an unmarried father, who goes regularly to Canada and to the United Kingdom, but “whatever he does up there he cannot bring back any official report on”.
The only person to serve as prime minister to be spared the scathing attack, of which very little could legally be repeated, was Sir Harold St John.
However, Thompson also took a nasty dig at House Speaker Michael Carrington for being slapped with a court order to hand over money belonging to a client.
She also spoke of, “three or four” Government officials who she said had “either left their wives or divorced them” and were “living with young girls [and] got little children”.
Thompson made specific mentioned of two Government officials who were allegedly summoned to court to pay maintenance money for children, with one of them being served the summons in Parliament buildings.
“If you are leading the country and talking about morality nobody should have to put you in court for child money. You should be too shame,” Thompson said, adding that “people who were bouncing cheques a couple years ago are now multi-millionaires, [with] luxury cars, mortgage-free homes [and] bank accounts overseas”.
According to Thompson, a Government official was served at his home with a summons concerning a pornography website he hosted.
“And they are talking about morality. And they are telling you that Mia Mottley is somehow so much a sinner that she is disqualified from leadership,” Thompson said, advising that “if you got glass doors, windows and roof, better you don’t throw no rock stones cause some boulders coming back at you”.
Ironically, when it was her turn at the podium, Mottley said she would not allow “gutter politics” into her general elections campaign, even as she served notice in the same breath that nothing will stop her from raising questions about corruption and unusual gains of wealth among Government officials.
Delivering the feature address at her party’s 79th annual conference over the weekend, the BLP leader further made clear that “I am not here to curse anybody . . . . The Barbados Labour Party shall keep it clean in 2018”.
“Those who get offended because I speak of stealing, I say, ‘too bad for them’. This country is short of cash, and if you have taken more than was legitimately yours, do not take it personal when I reveal, and we reveal, the facts to the country,” Mottley told the gathering in Queen’s Park on Saturday.
“If . . . we have reason to believe or evidence to support the argument that people have amassed assets in excess of that which reasonably could have become theirs from their lawful earnings, do not get angry with us when we call upon you to account,” the St Michael North East representative added.
“I am not going low today at all, [but] if, prior to 2008, you could barely afford to pay the mortgage on your house . . . how is it that you have either acquired an even more affluent residence without a known mortgage, or that the market value of your home has quadrupled in ten years, with no refinancing from any mortgage?”
Borrowing a line from Jamaican reggae artiste Beenie Man, ‘sim simma who got the keys to ma bimma’, the Opposition Leader said: “If you cannot afford to buy luxury vehicles – either brought in [into Barbados] full or in parts . . . do not drive them around, cutting style, as if you bought them.
“The only problem is that the ‘bimma’ reduced down there to a Range Rover now,” she added.
In a wide-ranging address, Mottley also promised that if she were elected Prime Minister in the next election she would adopt a zero tolerance stance against corruption.
“Where it is allowed to continue then a leader is either complicit or incompetent, and in either case needs to be held accountable,” she said.
The BLP leader also said she was puzzled as to why the current Government never proclaimed the Prevention of Corruption Act, which was approved by Parliament back in 2012.
However, she assured the large gathering of party supporters that “I will be asking and indeed answering similar questions in the weeks and months ahead and I do not want anybody referring to this as gutter politics”.