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EDITORIAL – In the hands of our MPs

marciadottin, [email protected]

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The Barbados political landscape has hardly been more tumultuous. A curious concatenation of circumstances has brought us to the position where the leadership of both political parties is a matter of public concern. 
The ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) has battled through the illness of its leader Prime Minister David Thompson for the past five months, and now the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) finds itself caught within the throes of a leadership contest in which former Prime Minister Owen Arthur appears pitted against the current Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley.
In all of this, the public interest is vitally engaged, because this country is governed, for better or for worse, by those members elected through the ballot box to run our affairs. And, in truth, the contest is more one of individual leadership than it is of competing teams.
Also, the Government-in-waiting, as the Opposition is often called, is led by its chosen leader who is viewed by many and regarded by our constitutional system as the alternative Prime Minister.
Of particular interest is the possibility there could be a change of leadership in both political parties between elections. But the public is removed from the contest because it has no vote in these circumstances, and will have to rely on its elected representatives to act as its surrogates in determining who shall be leader of the respective political parties.
It is in these circumstances that a call by former DLP Leader of the Opposition and former BLP minister Clyde Mascoll for transparency in the process for any changes in the leadership of our political parties makes good sense. 
Referring specifically to the situation in the BLP, Mr Mascoll further said: “Whatever is done in the BLP now, I am suggesting that the process should be transparent and inclusive.”
Right-thinking Barbadians will support this sensible stance, and we commend this advice to our political parties concerned in managing the change of leaders between elections.
The events of 1994 when Sir Lloyd Sandiford took over the Prime Ministership on the death of Mr Errol Barrow and the change of Opposition Leader in 2006 when Mr Mascoll was replaced by Mr David Thompson are two recent examples of change in a less than transparent manner.
Change in parliamentary leadership of the parties is not a matter for their private concern only. The public interest is engaged, and the Constitution of our country speaks to those changes, and reposes the primary power in the hands of the elected members.
The internal processes of each party may allow for groups such as its Council of Elders to have a role in lending sage advice, but the clear and unequivocal language of the Constitution is that the party’s elected members, and no one else, have the power to effect parliamentary leadership changes.
In our view, whatever else may be done, the language and spirit of the Constitution must be followed, in both parties, with the elected representatives of the people  exercising their power between elections, as only they see fit!