The man who lost every single seat in an historic general election defeat is not about to declare his party’s time in office as a “lost decade”.
To thunderous applause, Freundel Stuart, now out of a job as Prime Minister of Barbados and Democratic Labour Party (DLP) political leader and president, launched a spirited defence of his Government’s record from 2008 to 2018 at the party’s annual conference on Sunday.
“It is said that nothing of value or worth happened in Barbados while the Democratic Labour Party was in office. I reject emphatically that claim for the clumsy and ungainly forgery that it is,” he declared.
“Even after 49 years in membership I cannot find it in myself to prosecute this party in public or hold it up to ridicule. This party has done more for Barbados than any other political party,” Stuart said to cheers from party members.
Voters rejected that argument in the May 24 polls, handing an unprecedented 30-nil seat loss to the 63-year-old party that ushered in political independence, free education at all levels and a modern general hospital – past glories that lost their lustre in a decade of economic depression and reversals on social progress under Stuart’s largely silent watch.
Stuart, who assumed the premiership in 2009 with the death of David Thompson, said his two-term Government contributed significantly to housing development. He cited housing projects in Valerie and the Grotto in St Michael, Lancaster in St James, French Village and Four Hills in St Peter, Greens, St George, and Marchfield and Parish Land in St Philip.
He also claimed the creation of three new sectors that contributed to earning and saving foreign exchange – cultural industries, renewable energy and offshore medical education, where seven medical schools began operations in Barbados under his watch.
“At the time of leaving office we had capped the number of offshore medical schools at seven which were, according to my advice, actually registered. None of the seven registered was secured . . . by back-raising, backstabbing or undermining any sister CARICOM country,” said Stuart in a thinly veiled swipe at his successor as Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, who recently announced that Dominica-based Ross University School of Medicine would relocate to Barbados.
Stuart went on to list his Government’s achievements in labour, social care, education, international business and tourism, while stressing that the DLP’s achievements during the so-called ‘lost decade’ were numerous.
“I have not attempted to be exhaustive in this synopsis of achievements of the DLP in Government. What I have shared, however, flatly contradicts and gives the lie to any notion that the decade 2008 to 2018 was a lost decade. To the contrary . . . it was a highly productive decade in terms in of actual outcomes,” he contended.