BLP COLUMN: Stuart’s leadership paralysis
Barbados Labour Party legacy: removed import duties imposed by the DLP on raw materials, equipment and spare parts for manufacturing; provided multi-million special technical assistance for manufacturers to become more competitive and for export marketing; and created the Industrial Investment Employment Fund providing financing for manufacturers to retool and re-equip factories.
The major national preoccupation nowadays is trying to figure out Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and what will be the eventual outcome of the collapse of CLICO, both of which have been utterly complicated by the DLP leader’s inexplicable, inexcusable and incomprehensible attitude to the report by Deloitte Canada on the forensic audit of CLICO.
Having grown accustomed to the articulated, visionary and impactful leadership of the likes of Sir Grantley Adams, Errol Barrow, Tom Adams and Owen Arthur, Barbadians naturally had great and lofty expectations for Stuart, very patiently giving him ample time and opportunity to place his distinctive stamp on the office of Prime Minister.
Now nearly 18 months later, their steadily mounting sense of disappointment has hardened into resigned hopelessness, crowned most recently by the embarrassing bungling of the issue of the Deloitte report by Stuart and his administration.
After trying so very hard and so long to accept as the new leadership norm, the sloth of Stuart’s decision making which dangerously borders on being non-existent, we have been forced to agree with Sir Winston Churchill that, like the Soviet Union, Stuart “is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”, and frustratingly different from like any other person who has ever been Premier or Prime Minister of Barbados.
Prior to Stuart, Barbados had been mostly led by persons who, even if they were not always highly charismatic, were regarded as being decisive and communicative and impressed the public as being prepared to be fully involved in seeking solutions to national issues.
Not so with Stuart who has projected himself as being so self-satisfied with being Prime Minister, that he does not realize that the office is not an end in itself, but is simply the means to the end of taking action to solve problems to make life better for citizens.
Faced with issues, Stuart appears as if he is always waiting for related factors to be in conditions of “stasis”, defined as a “period or state when there is no change or development,” something that never happens with politics that is naturally highly dynamic.
As happens with CLICO sufferers, while Stuart waits, contemplates and does not communicate, their financial and psychological conditions deteriorate day by day. Not forgetting the paralyzed phases of the Alexandra School “solution.”
Some months ago, people were encouraged when Stuart said he would “engage” the public much more. But now that we are traumatized by the scandalous disclosures surrounding CLICO, the DLP is said to be seeking to distance itself as much as possible from David Thompson’s entanglements with the company’s leadership, by running away from public debate with a policy of “Speak No CLICO.” Like it does by repeatedly not sending representation to economic discussions on call-in radio.
Meanwhile, Owen Arthur and his BLP team continue to show that better can be done for Barbados through their alternative policies to rescue, rebuild and restore to benefit CLICO victims and all Barbadians.