Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley has defended his decision to launch a new political party a year after crossing the floor of Parliament to become Opposition Leader.
During the first political meeting of the People’s Party for Democracy and and Development (PdP), Atherley accused Prime Minister Mia Mottley of implicitly suggesting that he was not valued as a sitting member of the ruling party.
Atherley however assured a crowd at the All Souls Church in Bank Hall, St Michael on Sunday night that his decision to abandon the BLP was not motivated by the $129,000 opposition leader’s annual salary. Instead, he stressed the decision was made with the best interest of his St Michael West constituents and the wider public in mind.
Pointing to his exclusion from the Prime Minister’s bloated cabinet, Atherley claims he took advantage of an opportunity to serve in opposition and as leader of the PdP.
“If you appoint 26 people to a cabinet out of 30 and then you make another one the speaker, another one the deputy speaker and another one the chairman of committees… and you look at Joseph Atherley, who has served as a parliamentary secretary, who has served in the Cabinet of Barbados, in the office of the Prime Minister, who has represented this country at home and abroad…something is wrong,” Atherley argued.
“I say it’s a clear message that I don’t want you…for whatever reason, ‘I don’t want you’ and it could not have been based on past performance. So I had to ask myself, where could I best serve the people of St Michael West and the people of Barbados,” he recalled.
The Opposition Leader further stressed contrary to popular belief, he was neither upset with Mottley nor did he favor former BLP leader and long-time Prime Minister Owen Arthur as party leader over Mottley.
“I tell you it is not about money, it is not about vexation of spirit because there are those on the other side today who are far more vexed with the Prime Minister than Joseph Atherley,” he said.
“The Constitution of Barbados lays some demands upon us… It demands there be a physical presence representing the alternative opinion embodied and seated on the other side and somebody has to do it. Our Constitution anticipates an actual opposition. Our democracy dictates that ,” said Atherley.
“There are certain institutions whose functions are triggered by the role of the opposition in the Parliament of Barbados. There are certain checks and balances, which are built into the system that allow a leader in the Lower House, who can appoint senators in the Upper House.”
Atherley however did not hide his desire for former PM Arthur to join his new party.
“I wish he would join us because his is a fertile mind with experience and the
Barbados economy needs a brain like that at this time.”
During Sunday night’s well-attended meeting, members of the new party, including fledging politician and business, Scott Weatherhead and veteran trade unionist, Caswell Franklyn zeroed in on numerous issues including Government’s controversial debt restructuring and the perceived neglect of working-class Barbadians through government’s policies.