PM fires back
PRIME MINISTER Freundel Stuart last night took on his critics, dismissing concerns about his leadership style and his public silence over major issues.
In a 90-minute television interview in which he wore a light orange long-sleeved shirt and no jacket and tie, a comfortable-looking Stuart declared that he was not “nearly as idle as the detractors” claimed.
He said he had his own style of leadership and did not feel “pressured” by criticisms that he behaved like a “ceremonial” head of Government – in sharp contrast to the way former Prime Ministers Errol Barrow and David Thompson operated.
He charged that the same people who had been severe critics of Barrow and Thompson had moved to beatify them “and if you live long enough you will hear me being beatified”.
In a one-on-one interview with CBCTV’s Rosemary Alleyne, he told people complaining about his silence that he had addressed the nation Independence Day and Christmas Day last year and had spoken in business and other forums since then on a range of issues.
Throughout the interview Stuart conveyed the impression that Government was functioning effectively, that he was aware of the problems and that the decision-making process revolved around him.
Stuart spoke to several issues during the interview, including Government’s position on CLICO, sharply rising food prices and a Jamaican woman’s claim that she was cavity-searched by local airport officials.
He restated Government’s commitment to seeing people who had invested in the local CLICO operations getting at least their principal back, while pointing out that it was a private company.
Government was “quietly and unobtrusively” pursuing its own CLICO initiatives with a view to having “a fair and rational resolution” of the problem, he reported.
“We have had meetings with interesting parties on the CLICO issue and it is my view that the clouds are not nearly as dark as they might be thought to be . . . ,” Stuart commented.
Directed to his critics, Stuart said he had been studying the Prime Minister’s office from the time he was a boy and those who felt he had happened onto the post of Prime Minister were “in for a shock”.
Asked about his vision for Barbados, he warned there would be no fancy formulation of a national vision, saying he was focused on creating “a just society” in which every man, woman and child could feel a part of the national project.