OUR CARIBBEAN: Owen Arthur and his coming ‘life in politics’
So, with the February 21 decision by the Barbadian electorate to stick with the tradition of giving an incumbent party a second chance – much to the understandable relief of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and his DLP – three-term former Prime Minister Owen Arthur is now preparing to spend quality time writing his memoirs.
I hope that Mr Arthur keeps his promise to share with us his reflections on “my wonderful life in politics”, as he recently told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
As a respected regional technocrat, before his active involvement in parliamentary politics, initially under the influence of the now late Prime Minister and BLP leader, Tom Adams, Arthur, an economist by profession, has much of substance to address on the strengths and weaknesses of CARICOM, as the chosen vehicle for attaining the much trumpted and still elusive goal of a seamless regional economy.
Arthur is also well placed to inform us about the good, bad and ugly of party politics in multi-party governance, including the bitter internecine strife that often afflict major parliamentary parties across our region – as we have evidenced also in Barbados with changing governments and party leadership.
It’s quite fascinating to know, as Arthur was fond of publicly reminding Barbadians – in and out of government – that philosophically, he was “a Barrow democrat”, even while passionately denouncing policies and programmes of the DLP under changing post-Errol Barrow leadership.
Regrettably, the late “Dipper” Barrow, one of the great political leaders of this region – indeed a Caribbean statesman who bequeathed a legacy in personal integrity and fairness in democratic governance – did not find the time to write his memoirs.
Or, for that matter, provide us with any written work approximating the thoughtful and revealing offerings of leaders of his time like Dr Eric Williams, Dr Cheddi Jagan and Michael Manley. Except for what others have written about him, the endearing “Dipper” did not even bother to have at least a relevant collection of published texts of speeches as offered, for example, by former Prime Ministers P J Patterson and Sir James Mitchell.
Thanks, however, to a late journalist colleague, Yussuff Haniff, there remains a fine collection of speeches by Errol Barrow, in addition to The Life And Times Of Errol Barrow offered by the now late Peter Morgan. In Haniff’s published collection can be found some of the most informative perspectives by Barrow on politics, culture, law, governance and, of course what had absorbed so much of his passion – “building of our regional community” that’s CARICOM.
One such memorable public address was that of 1986 when he spoke on Caribbean Integration: The Reality And The Goal at a CARICOM summit in Guyana. Owen Arthur had not yet wet his feet in regional governance politics. We await his promised memoirs.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist.