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REMEMBERING BARROW: Why he parted with BLP

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REMEMBERING BARROW: Why he parted with BLP

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ERROL WALTON BARROW began his political career as a member of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) 36 years ago, but when he died, he was a “Dem” and the BLP’s staunchest opponent.

Several factors contributed to the rift, but close aides say Barrow’s decision to part company with Sir Grantley Adams and the BLP in 1954, basically had to do with differences in their approach to national development.

He felt reforms to advance the cause of the masses were proceeding too slowly, and questioned why black people could not afford to buy shoes, and why they could not work in banks and other Broad Street establishments.

Barrow felt Sir Grantley was concentrating too much on forming the West Indies Federation at the expense of the more pressing priority which was developing Barbados, Democratic Labour Party (DLP) research assistant Reggie Hunte told THE NATION.

Another contributing factor to the rift between the two men was Barrow’s contention that Sir Grantley was paying more attention to the then British Governor than to his elected colleagues in parliament.

In 1951, four years before the DLP was formed, Sir Grantley had formally introduced Barrow for St George. What was particularly historic about the occasion was that Sir Grantley had endorsed the brilliant young lawyer as his successor.

This came to pass in 1961 when the DLP defeated the BLP in general elections and Barrow became Premier. Hunte said despite their irreconcilable political differences, Barrow bore no animosity for Sir Grantley.

“Barrow was not a man to espouse hatred. He talked politically and that’s that and 10 minutes after, you could approach the man and discuss matters with him. He was that sort of person,” Hunte said.

Barrow too did not see eye to-eye, politically with Tom – the other Adams who dominated this country’s political scene for nine years after leading the BLP in a crushing victory  over the DLP in the 1976 elections.

Hunte said Barrow saw the younger Adams as uncaring for small people, and was very concerned about the impact of the policies of the 1976-86 BLP administration on the “ordinary man”.

“I remember in 1980, Mr. barrow was very disturbed and hurt about a number of things and I saw him sit down once and cry … when he asked people who were around at DLP headquarters how they were making it,” Hunte recalled.

“He said: ‘I have more than some of what the average person has, but I am finding it difficult to make ends meet and I am wondering how other people are living. But then he went on and said: ‘Maybe the people want it that way’.”

Barrow was parliamentary Opposition Leader at the time.

One close associate of Barrow said he was very saddened by Tom Adams’ sudden death in 1985.

This article was published June 2, 1987.