Political scientist Dr George Belle is raising doubts about the reasons given by Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley for crossing the floor, suggesting Atherley may have been the final remnants of a disgruntled faction seeking to undermine Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s leadership of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
Belle, who was commenting on Atherley’s decision to finally tender his resignation from the BLP, having crossed the floor one week after the party’s 30-0 victory at the May 24 polls, said he no longer believed Atherley’s initial explanation of wanting to be the conscience of Government.
As matter of fact the political scientist told Barbados TODAY while Atherley’s decision to resign from the BLP may have cleared up concerns of him being a puppet Opposition for the ruling party, it raised questions about his motives for crossing the floor in the first place.
“I gave him the benefit of the doubt in relation to his motives for crossing the floor. At the time I felt that he was probably reacting to the fact there was no leader of the Opposition and since he was in no position in the executive of Government, he could take that role and play the part of the conscience of Government and by extension the Barbados Labour Party,” Belle said, while suggesting that the real answer to Atherley’s departure from the BLP would be found in the political unions he forms in the future.
Mere days after stating he had no immediate plans to quit the ruling party, Atherley submitted a two-page resignation letter dated Friday, July 20, to the BLP leadership.
This afternoon Belle all but ruled out Atherley’s chances of forming an alliance with the just ousted Democratic Labour Party (DLP) or forming his own political party.
However, he suggested that an alliance with former BLP candidate and leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) Lynette Eastmond, could be on the cards.
“What needs to be looked at very carefully now is if he elevates himself with association with another party. It is possible that the entire thing was a setup on the part of persons who were actually not in favour of the leadership of the Barbados Labour Party and were acting both inside and outside of the party. That would mean that Bishop Atherley was left inside the party as a bridgehead in case that particular function was needed to inhibit the present leadership from sustaining itself.
“If he chooses to associate with these people then he has a lot of explaining to do as to whether they [disgruntled faction] had never given up their resistance to the leadership of the party. This point is entirely to do with the UPP because they were established to harass Mottley and we all know who the other agents are in that,” he stressed.
Eastmond hinted this afternoon at the possibility of an alliance with Atherley, telling Barbados TODAY she had held discussions with the Opposition Leader as recently as last week.
“All I can say is that yes, I Lynette Eastmond, did meet with the Leader of the Opposition and we did have discussions but I can’t say that we have reached any concrete stage in terms of an alliance,” Eastmond said.
However, while Atherley could not be reached, a source familiar with the talks said the two sides explored ways to form a platform with the various parties, including the UPP, Solutions Barbados, the DLP and even the BLP, through which members would speak publicly on issues with which they are familiar.
According to the source, who insisted there was no intention of establishing a formal political merger, it was anticipated that Eastmond would speak on trade matters because of her familiarity with the subject.