BLP COLUMN: How far friendship?
When before becoming Prime Minister the late David Thompson announced his intention to “kill the fatted calf” exclusively for the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) benefit when in power, few would have expected that this sinister philosophy would have been practised with such literal and potentially deadly effects.
The initial assumption was that it simply referred to an extreme form of seeking to ensure that DLP members and supporters enjoyed the spoils of available patronage in keeping with the usual practice in the liberal democratic system of government of which Barbados is a part.
Now we have been made to appreciate the real and unmistakable meaning of that brutal political outlook through recent developments that have revealed chilling details of how and why the Dems have been clearly and consistently mishandling the CLICO meltdown, which has also helped to make Barbados the object of suspicion, scorn and resentment across the Caribbean to an extent never before seen in modern history.
Now, through the latest instalments in the real-life soap opera that CLICO has become, more of the scales have been painfully ripped off the eyes of ordinary members of the public, who had hitherto been feeling increasingly betrayed, cynical and mistrustful of the ruling DLP over its repeated breaking of promises to reduce the cost of living in particular and improve the state of the economy in general.
For many years now, it has been commonplace for people to wonder about the high-profile glue-like closeness between the DLP and CLICO, and especially their principals in the persons of the late DLP head David Thompson and CLICO leader Leroy Parris.
This was so because never before had we ever seen such a “don’t-carish” and publicly flaunted alliance between a political party and its leader, and a business place and its top manager.
With the recent disclosure that Thompson had legally witnessed a contract between Parris and CLICO, people have at last begun to get a glimpse of the possible reasons behind that bond and the very minimal and belated action by Government on CLICO. The only trouble is that people are also fearful that more surprises are to come and that they could be of even greater proportions.
And who can blame the public for this healthy scepticism, since had Prime Minister Stuart not revealed it himself, nobody – especially the many thousands being hurt by CLICO – would have guessed that there was also a “long-time” friendship between Stuart and Parris, whom he described as an “estimable gentleman”.
While Stuart has recommitted the Government to ensuring that “people get their principal investments in CLICO”, the public at large are eagerly searching for demonstrated acts of reassurance from the DLP that it is also firmly committed to the “principle” that for the party the country’s interests always come before friendships.
To achieve this noble objective, members of the public and chiefly the CLICO victims will be looking for clear and strong actions and not elegant but meaningless words. The future stability of Barbados sorely depends on it happening soon.