Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley said Sunday that Prime Minister Mia Mottley did not want him in her Cabinet and did not even want him to contest a seat under her leadership of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
Atherley made the disclosure as he reflected on his two years sitting on the opposing side after winning his seat in St. Michael West on a BLP ticket.
Atherley, who jumped ship from the BLP after its clean sweep of all the electoral seats in the 2018 general election, completely rejected suggestions that the move had anything to do with money.
He told a Voice of Barbados radio call-in programme that the decision to reject him for a position in Mottley’s 26-member Cabinet confirmed what he knew all along, that due to his previous conflicts with Mottley, when she was opposition leader, that it was unlikely that he would ever be included.
In a broadside against his former party colleague and Cabinet member under the Owen Arthur-led administration, Atherley told listeners to the programme, after the 2018 election win, he was not prepared to just sit on the back bench and “sing in the choir”.
“There are some things that took place in the last campaign that I would not want to mention. It became a matter of surprise to the leader of the political party – an astute politician such as Ms Mottley – that two days before an election, it became apparent to her that no political meeting had been held in the St Michael West constituency.
“That is when that became apparent to her. Everybody else knew it did not happen. I am saying to you that there is a history between me and Ms Mottley, which suggested that her preference would be for me not to be in a candidate of the BLP.
“There are some other instances where we had heated disagreements … and I don’t overstate that, which would suggest that I would not have been Ms Mottley’s preferred cup of tea.
“So I did not expect to be in her Cabinet. Those who laboured with me in St Michael West, my campaign team, they could tell you I said to them repeatedly – if you are with me in this because you anticipate that when this election is over if I win, I will be in the Cabinet and you will get a job or get help, you must disabuse your minds of that. I will not be in Ms Mottley’s Cabinet,” Atherley revealed in a wide-ranging conversation with listeners.
“It was not a situation of being aggrieved, it was a sense of confirmation. I anticipated it,” he added.
Atherley, who now leads the People’s Party for Democracy and Development, added: “Having criticized the Democratic Labour Party for a Cabinet of 17 persons, that when Ms Mottley chose her Cabinet, it would have been a Cabinet of 17 persons or fewer, maybe 15. I anticipated that.
“Now when you go in a context like that and all that I know and all that I have experienced, and you appoint a Cabinet of 26 persons … and Joseph Atherley is not included and all kinds of new people are included and some who are very subject to questions in terms of the capacity they bring to the table …
“When you do that you are confirming for me … what I have known all along. And therefore it cannot be that the role that I can best play for Barbados is to sit in the back bench of the Cabinet of 26 persons who come with an opinion soundly formed at Bay Street, imposing upon the Parliament of Barbados, and all I am there to do is to sing in the choir and say “Yes Lord”. No, no, no.
“I have come to public life to serve other than that … My value was not appreciated there. That was not the principal motivator, however. The principal motivator is the vacuum in the democratic structure or architecture of Barbados. Especially in Parliament.” (IMC1)