Owen: Govt is at a loss
THE BARBADOS GOVERNMENT has been described as comprising “men of nothing” and its leader as “useless”.
These were the words punctuating former Prime Minister and Opposition Leader Owen Arthur’s speech as he addressed the Barbados Labour Party’s 75th annual conference at St George Secondary School yesterday, symbolically paving the way for chairman and leader Mia Mottley.
In his first annual conference as a grandfather, Arthur said while he had hoped to be there in a different capacity, he was not questioning providence but was celebrating with pride the longevity of the party that had caused Barbados to stand for something special among the family of nations.
This legacy, he insisted, must guide the future leaders as Barbados itself faced an uncertain future.
Quoting V.S. Naipaul’s A Bend In The River and the author’s reference to “men who are nothing”, he said Barbados had come to its own bend in the river.
“It is a nation of good people afflicted by a bad Government of men who are nothing. Barbados is being brought to its knees by men who seek refuge for their ineptitude,” Arthur said, noting that the country had now seemingly lost its place in the world, was frozen in time and in danger of going under.
He further said Barbadians had been made victims of a grievously flawed ideology which maintained that one could build a society without resting that society on a strong economy.
“Our nation now faces the spectre of becoming a society which does not have a viable economy,” he said, adding that it would take a monumental effort to rescue Barbados from its “free fall” and a spate of crime and violence.
Saying that no Government member had answered the charges of gross mismanagement and incompetence in last Tuesday’s no-confidence motion against Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, he said the country, “not Mia Mottley”, had lost its way.
He also noted that Barbadians were being daily asked to make sacrifices even when they had nothing left, as Government used the people’s financial resources to pay for partisan political programmes.
Turning to leadership, he said: “The present leader of this country is useless. He behaves like a man at large: seldom seen, seldom heard. His behaviour can be used in ads for either Posturepedic or Slumberest. And on the days he awakes from his hibernation, his behaviour is haughty, dismissive and vitriolic . . . . We can now fully appreciate what prompted the attempted coup by the Eager Eleven.”
Saying that Barbados now faced its most daunting crisis in history, he said, “The man at the helm, if I may use the words of [Samuel Taylor] Coleridge, is ‘as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean’. Barbados deserves better.”
Reiterating his thanks to Barbadians for giving him the opportunity to serve for 30 years, Arthur added: “I now go to another place and another phase in the service of this party,” before kissing Mottley, Cynthia Forde and Pat Parris while shaking the hands of Dwight Sutherland, Jerome Walcott and Dale Marshall.
Meanwhile, those receiving awards yesterday were Jean Jordan who got the Milroy Reece Award and Philip Evan “Jimmy” Serrao, QC, who got the Sir Grantley Adams Award.
The new BLP executive is leader and chairman Mottley, first vice-president Marshall, second vice-president Forde, third vice-president Parris, general secretary Walcott, treasurer Douglas Skeete, and Young Socialists leader Akil Daley.