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Estwick’s troubles with DLP

Albert Brandford

Estwick’s troubles with DLP

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. – A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
WHATEVER will be Dr David Estwick’s future in politics, it is clear that his association with the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), whether in Opposition or in Government, has been a rocky one.
Still, it has been his good fortune as a loyal member to serve the party at various levels and when in office in the Cabinet.
However, it is also true that he has been the recipient of some political body blows from his DLP colleagues that ranged from the most offensive of slights to the heart-rending calls for his expulsion from the party.
That he himself has allowed his frustration and anger at the pig-headedness and woeful ignorance of some of his colleagues both within the party and Cabinet to overflow into emotional threats of resignation would allow his detractors to question his loyalty and commitment.
To outsiders, Estwick’s troubles with the DLP appeared to stem from his very early support for Clyde Mascoll in the nascent days of David Thompson’s plan to retake the leadership from which he had strategically stepped away after two general election defeats.
Estwick was linked with Mascoll, the new DLP leader who made him?Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and St Lucy MP Denis Kellman, (the “Tuesday Warriors” – so called because of their regular attendance in Parliament during the turmoil) whose opposition to the modalities of Thompson’s power grab were interpreted as not being in the interest of the DLP and calls went up for them to be expelled.
Pollster and political scientist Peter Wickham was in the forefront of that charge.
“I’m wondering whether the Dems should not look to consolidate their position as a party and take out, physically remove, the individuals who are causing trouble, if that is the position,” Wickham told the media after an “extraordinary” extraordinary general conference in November 2005 to determine who should lead the DLP into the then widely anticipatedgeneral election.
The turmoil seemed to end with Mascoll’s defection to the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), but resurfaced after the DLP won the 2008 general election when Kellman was surprisingly left out of Thompson’s first Cabinet and Estwick was given the Ministry of Health rather than the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs which he had shadowed after Mascoll’s departure.
Eventually, Thompson split the ministries, holding on to Finance and allowing Estwick to run Economic Affairs from December 2009 to October 2010.
The simmering dissatisfaction would boil over just before Thompson’s passing that month when in the so-called deathbed reshuffle he appointed Chris Sinckler as Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, effectively “demoting” Estwick to the Ministry of Agriculture – regarded as the “Siberia” of portfolio outposts.
Estwick’s anger could be felt across the country, but it abated enough for him to state publicly he held no “animosity” towards anyone and pledged continued service.
“Although it might seem that I have been given the bad end of the stick,” he added, “it is my belief that I have been chosen by the Almighty, and my constituents of St Philip West, to work on behalf of this country. My mother always said: time longer than twine and that the race is not for the swift but is for he that endureth.
I am resilient and will endure.”
Estwick resigned from the chair of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy, clearing the way for Sinckler, with whom party insiders said he never had a close relationship.
That became quite clear when Estwick, at a National Consultation in May 2012, accused  Government of starving the agricultural sector of resources and threatened to resign.
“I fed up wid it,” he said.
“It’s either that my administration will take it seriously, or I gine resign. Simple as that. I don’t waste my time. I don’t butt my head against the wall.
I either move the wall, or I gone. I ain’t nuh idiot.”
Estwick confirmed the strained relations in a letter to the executive chairman of the Barbados Water Authority, forbidding management and staff from attending any project review committee meetings with Sinckler.
Following the DLP’s repeat victory in the February 2013 election, illness reportedly kept him away from the swearing-in ceremony after he was again denied the Ministry of Finance by the newly mandated Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
Now, with public sector lay-offs being the most visible and painful face of the economic problems, Estwick appears to have reached the end of his tether, given that his proffered solutions have been ignored.