The Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is dismissing as “so much garbage”, accusations that it disrespected former Prime Minister Owen Arthur during his farewell speech in Parliament last week.
The ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) last night complained that it was left to the Government side to pay homage to the Member of Parliament for St Peter, even though he was the longest serving Prime Minister in a BLP administration and had given more than 30 years of service to the party.
Speaking at a joint meeting of DLP branches in the Christ Church constituencies, both Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and Minister and Transport and Works Michael Lashley tore into the opposition party for not properly recognizing Arthur in the House when he said goodbye.
However, Member of Parliament for St Joseph Dale Marshall, who served in Arthur’s Cabinet from 2003 to 2007, dismissed the argument as a none issue.
“I am not responding to that. This is so much garbage that I am not going comment on it. Let them find something else to talk about this week,” Marshall told Barbados TODAY.
Arthur, who led Barbados through economic prosperity from 1994 to 2008, announced last week that he was attending his last sitting of Parliament after 35 years as a legislator.
“Today I will be making my last speech ever . . . . I am retiring,” Arthur told Barbados TODAY as he prepared to climb the steep steps of Parliament to participate in the debate on the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure 2018-2019.
Arthur resigned from the BLP July 2014, a year-and-a-half after losing his second straight election, claiming the party had lost its soul under Mia Mottley as political leader.
He had stood down as BLP leader in 2008 following the party’s defeat in the general election that year only to return in October 2010, and stepped aside again following the 2013 defeat, in favour of Mottley.
But a major fault line had developed in the relationship between the two, which became even more evident after the former leader quit the party.
Lashley said the BLP parliamentarians were ungrateful for failing to pay tribute to Arthur following his contribution to the debate.
“Only last week we saw how the Barbados Labour Party treated their former leader, who made some of them ministers, who gave his final speech and not one of them came back in there and paid tribute to their former leader. Not one of them came back and say ‘we thank you former Prime Minister for giving us the opportunity to serve in your cabinet and that you made us men and women’. How ungrateful can you be?” Lashley said, while arguing that Arthur had rebranded the BLP from a party for aristocrats to one which related to the working class.
“There were many in that party who said that a poor man who was the son of a shopkeeper could [not] become Prime Minister of Barbados. He was too poor until they recognized that they could use this man to connect with the working class and this is how they treat a man that put his life out for the party,” Lashley added.
Meantime, Sinckler supported Lashley’s position, warning that Barbadians could expect more of the same ingratitude if they elect the BLP to office in the next general election, constitutionally due by the middle of this year.
“It was disrespectful and insidious from the BLP and it then took our Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to get up and give commendation to Arthur in his final speech. That is the quality of character that you are talking about this side [DLP] and the quality of political scallywags on the other side.
“I am not surprised because they had an annual conference and they had a booklet celebrating leaders of the BLP and left out Owen Arthur, the longest leader of the BLP. Could you imagine that? Now if they would treat him like that and he led them to the stars for 15 years and won three elections and got some of them elected that couldn’t get elected any other way, how do you think they would treat ordinary Barbadians?” Sinckler questioned.