BLP COLUMN: What a DLP mirror image!
BLP legacy: first celebration of Emancipation Day on August 1, 1997; established a Facilitation Unit for Returning Nationals to streamline their return home with duty free movable assets; and rejected the United States’ acrimonious Shiprider Agreement to successfully negotiate an arrangement which respects Barbados’ sovereignty and independence.
At first, the temptation was to regard the frequency with which Irene Sandiford-Garner has sought to “take up the fire rage” of women whom the DLP alleges have been “unfaired” within the BLP, as attempts to deflect the public’s attention from the colossal failure that her assignment to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) has clearly been.
For we well remember that in March 2010 when Senator Sandiford-Garner was shuffled to the Ministry of Health as Parliamentary Secretary, her specific responsibility was to oversee improvements in QEH operations and determine whether enhancement would be through on-site refurbishment or the building of a new facility elsewhere.
More than 18 months later the public is no wiser as to the long-term future of the QEH, while the meagre improvement works there have been enveloped in controversy over contracts for air conditioning and electrical operations.
There are other matters such as reported cost overruns , failure to keep completion dates and the mysterious disappearance of equipment.
But her most recent utterances have made it clear that instead of directly criticizing the BLP she was in a roundabout way really lashing out at the DLP, clearly conscious of how poorly her party had treated its women compared to the BLP’s oustanding record in this regard. How else can one understand her statement that “it could happen to anyone of us who would wish to step up”.
Sandiford-Garner must have been remembering that in the 15 years in Government (1961 to 1976 ) the DLP never made a female a Cabinet minister, even though Senator Odessa Gittens and Mrs Gertz Eastmond, MP, had been parliamentary secretaries, with the latter being patronizingly told by her leader Errol Barrow that he would have to “teach her the facts of life” when she tried to assert herself.
Back in Government for 1986 to 1994, the DLP again did no better than to make Mrs Maizie Barker-Welch, MP, a parliamentary secretary, only seeing it fit to elevate two women to ministerial status in 2008.
But the BLP’s leadership in championing the women in politics is unmatched. It started with the first general election under Universal Adult Suffrage when (Dame) Ermie Bourne became Babados’ first female MP, and the party never looked back.
Back in Government in 1976 (Dame) Billie Miller became the country’s first female minister, and between 1994 and 2008 Owen Arthur appointed five female ministers: Billie Miller, Mia Mottley, Liz Thompson, Lynette Eastmond and Cynthia Forde.
In that time the BLP also had two female Deputy Prime Ministers: Billie Miller and Mia Mottley, with Miller later becoming the first female Senior Minister.
The BLP has had Billie Miller as chairman, while the DLP is yet to elect its first female president.
The DLP’s 2008 manifesto pledges to work “towards having 50 per cent of the DLP slate female by 2016”, only to have four female candidates now, the same as last election. Again the BLP leads with five females. What female mirror image do you have of yourself, DLP?