Opposition leader Bishop Joseph Atherley is still hoping for signs of “resurgence” and “rebirth” from the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) camp in the interest of democracy and good governance in Barbados.
The People’s Party for Democracy and Development (PdP) leader was reacting to news that some members of the DLP’s old guard will once again seek to occupy positions of prominence at George Street.
The moves defy advice from numerous political pundits who contend that prominent figures in the Freundel Stuart administration should step aside in the party’s best interest.
When asked to give his take on the recent developments, Atherley made it clear that he would not comment on the party’s internal affairs, but admitted that he was longing to see a new ethos out of George Street, regardless of who is in charge.
“I am more upbeat about the resurgence of a Democratic Labour Party with a new ethos than I am concerned about it,” said Bishop Atherley.
“As to the internals, the re-emergence of any particular individual, or what is happening at the level of competition for presidency, I am not going to speak to those things. Those are internal dynamics that they are going to have to get right.
“But what I am saying is that if they can see a resurgence, a purging and a rebirth where that is needed, and come to a place where they can maturely contribute to our development again, that is a good thing,” he added.
As rumours swirl about which DLP veterans might step forward, former Environment Minister Dr Denis Lowe became the first victim of 2018’s demoralizing defeat to announce that he would again vie for a seat in Parliament. Just days ago, the party’s former general secretary George Pilgrim also announced his intention to challenge the current president Verla DePeiza during next month’s annual general conference.
“Since last year, I said in all honesty, I think it is in the interest of Barbados if the DLP could purge itself and experience a rebirth and regrouping. It is a party that has served the country for a long time, and has a legacy of contributing significantly to the development of Barbados, notwithstanding the queries and the scrutiny with respect to the last ten years of administration, much of which is justified, and some of which is exaggerated,” said Atherley.
“Notwithstanding all of that, it has a role to play in the preservation, furtherance and the maturation of democracy in Barbados. I think it is a good thing if they can experience a resurgence and a rebirth, correct the ills that plagued them as the people see it, and show themselves a force to be reckoned with in Barbados. I am objective enough to be of that opinion, even though I head the PdP.”
Atherley, who won his seat as a member of the ruling Barbados Labour Party (BLP), crossed the floor shortly after the 2018 victory, promising to fill the absent role of opposition leader.
He later appointed a number of senators and announced the formation of the PdP, promising to preserve democracy in the absence of any other opposition alternatives in the parliament.
Atherley maintains that the move was executed in the interest of democracy.
“That democracy relates to how our institutions of Parliament function. It relates to how opinion is expressed, and I don’t think it is good that we have a singular voice speaking from the positions of power in the Parliament of Barbados,” the Bishop explained.
“I wanted to constitute the alternative voice, to be somebody significantly in a position to hold Government to account and to be able to appoint a couple of others who could help me in that task in the Parliament of Barbados and beyond that, in the public arena, the public platform, and to be able to identify and name a number of others who could speak to various portfolio areas in Barbados,” he added.