A last minute decision by former Prime Minister and outgoing President of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Freundel Stuart to abruptly end the party’s signature lunchtime lectures has left one party elder fuming, and threatens to cause fissures within the 63-year-old political movement.
Stuart last night cancelled the lectures with immediate effect following a meeting of the DLP Executive Council, leaving former Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss with the proverbial egg on his face.
Inniss, a prospective DLP leader, was scheduled to deliver tomorrow’s lecture and had produced and circulated a colourful flyer promoting the event. The title of his lecture was expected to be, Barbados and the DLP: The Future is Now, according to the flyer, which was done in the party’s colours and featured a reflective Inniss dressed in a white shirt, a yellow tie and a grey jacket.
A further decision was taken to defer all such events until a new executive is in place after internal elections are held during the party’s annual conference next month.
Inniss could not be reached for comment, but the decision did not sit well with party elder Astor B Watts, in whose honour the lecture series was renamed last year.
An incensed Watts did not mince words this afternoon as he said what he thought of Stuart and the decision to shelve the lectures.
The outspoken party stalwart suggested that the decision to bring a halt to the presentation without warning might have been driven by fear that Inniss would have criticized the former Prime Minister over his leadership of the party and the country.
“Donville Inniss was going to do the speaking and he probably thought that he [Inniss] may not have given him any kudos,” Watts told Barbados TODAY.
“I am not interested if they are at variance because I am doing something for the people of Barbados. We have been doing that lunchtime lecture on Friday for years and if he [Stuart] had any grievance, he should have consulted with me before making the suggestion which he made last night,” he added.
The DLP elder told Barbados TODAY he had no intention of allowing Stuart the final say on the matter, and he did not hold back, saying the defeated Prime Minister could “go to hell”.
“I am going over there tomorrow because I am not a fly-by-night, I was properly brought up. If he [Stuart] does not know right from wrong then he will go to hell! That is where he belongs,” an angry Watts said.
“I am really going over there tomorrow because of all of those people I invited and I would have to now go and apologize to them and let them know what my position is,” he added.
Watts reminded Stuart, who led the DLP to an historic defeat in the May 24 general election, that he only had a month to go as leader of the party, and therefore was in no position to act as a dictator.
“We are not living in a Russian atmosphere, we are living in a democracy and I don’t stand for nonsense and I intend to still do my talk tomorrow when I go over there,” he said.
“We can’t hide from the truth and the truth is that all is not well. If he felt that Donville Inniss may not have stuck to his script, I would have guided him not to bring any politics into the talk, or point fingers at anybody.
“ I don’t know what would have possessed him to make such a decision, but he needs to realize that he is an outgoing president and he should take his seat and remain where he is,” Watts stressed.
Barbados TODAY contacted DLP General Secretary George Pilgrim who refused to comment “on any internal matters of the Democratic Labour Party”. However, he confirmed that a meeting of the Executive Council was held last night, but said he was absent from the discussions.