DLP starts imploding
BLP legacy: Tax reform in 2003-2007 raised the income tax bar from $15 000 to $25 000, causing 26 000 people to stop paying income tax, with the remainder on the list paying less tax; raised the personal tax allowance for people 60 years and older from $30 000 to $40 000.
AS DISSATISFACTION with the Dems gets hotter among the general public, conditions within the DLP have worsened to the point where the administration has clearly started to publicly implode. That is the only logical conclusion that can be drawn from the recent harsh attack in public on his own Government by Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick.
In a stunning and disturbing move that still has people searching in vain for a similar incident within past governments, Estwick not only harshly criticised his own Cabinet for its refusal to put more money into agricultural development and transformation, but also bluntly threatened to resign if he was not taken seriously and complained bitterly about the “obstacles” he had encountered with his portfolio over the past two years, “even within the level of my own Cabinet”.
What made Estwick’s onslaught on his fellow DLPites even more astounding was that as well as being unleashed in public it had also been done at an official event organised by his own ministry. Furthermore, Estwick reportedly abandoned his written, prepared speech and instead chose to speak from his heart, clearly a heart wracked by frustration, disappointment and anger at his own people.
Apart from content and tone, Estwick’s rant caught the public’s attention because in recent times his usual forceful voice had noticeably not been heard in such major debates as the 2012 Estimates Debate or the just-ended discussion on the indefinite extension of the 17.5 per cent VAT.
By choosing to publicly lambaste his colleagues for the “mere 1.5 per cent of the national budget” allocated to his ministry, Estwick definitely made a mockery of the principle of Collective Responsibility upon which Cabinet government is based and further reinforces the perception of a Government increasingly riven by chronic indiscipline because nobody is firmly in charge in the way to which Barbadians had become accustomed with previous political leaders.
Estwick’s calculated public outburst becomes even more disturbingly significant since it follows the much-celebrated letter from the so-called Eager Eleven, stridently complaining about Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s “leadership style”. This dissident private correspondence also became public, thereby indicating that DLPites still have serious difficulties communicating with one another even at the highest level.
The fact that Estwick went so far as to stress that he was “no fool” indicates the depth and extent of his alienation with colleagues. Could it possibly mean he thinks others are fools? Could part of the answer come from analysis of his attendance in recent times at Cabinet and Parliament?
But while the Dems concentrate heavily on political cannibalism at the expense of the real needs of the public, Owen Arthur and the BLP focus on plans, programmes and policies to bring back strong and decisive leadership and put money back into people’s pockets.
• Beresford Leon Padmore is a pseudonym for the Barbados Labour Party.