PURELY POLITICAL: Tread carefully, Mia!
ONE OF THE LESSONS I have learnt about the game of politics over the years is that nothing is ever as straightforward as black and white.
No. There are always some grey areas – in fact, in some events of national importance, too many grey areas.
Take, for example, the latest template being developed in the Christ Church West constituency branch of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), which seems to have the potential to offer us a more illuminating insight into the true nature of local politics.
As this was being written Friday, there were reports of a scheduled meeting that day of the BLP’s General Council, under the chairmanship of party leader, Mia Mottley, to discuss the “challenges” between Christ Church West MP, Dr Maria Agard, and her executive committee.
“Reports indicate that Opposition Leader Mia Mottley has summoned the meeting for Grantley Adams House with the party’s General Council after the matter was not resolved at a meeting two weeks ago,” a media item said.
“A source told the WEEKEND NATION that the members of the executive committee were of the opinion that Agard, who won the seat in 2013 after her colleague Dr William Duguid stepped down, was not pulling her weight.
“The members of the committee are of the opinion that Dr Agard is not pulling her weight in terms of doing things in the community. From the time she won the seat, as far as we are aware, she has not been back into the community [on a regular basis] to visit the constituents. She has helped one or two people but we are saying she needs to be more active in the branch,” the official charged.
In that article, as well as in a report in another section of the press on February 14, it was disclosed that rumours were circulating that the BLP’s general secretary, Senator Jerome Walcott, the party’s losing candidate in 2013 in neighbouring Christ Church West, was interested in switching constituencies.
The WEEKEND NATION said its source suggested this was being circulated by people close to Agard.
“[They] think that, but that is not part and parcel of how the committee within our ranks operate,” he said. “We are concentrating on winning back the seat. In terms of moving an MP, that is not our agenda.”
Despite the obvious allure of a “safe” BLP seat, one immediately wonders why Walcott, who had found favour with voters in the South in 2003, would not want to take a page from the book of the man he conquered then, John Boyce, who had been trying since 1994.
If the rumours swirling around in political circles contain any truth about the motives behind the unrest in the branch – and I have it on very good authority that Mottley is not responsible – the party leader would have to tread very carefully with this one given the experience of her predecessor in the said constituency.
This one has to come as close as possible to black and white as it can – there is really very little room for grey areas.
One can only hope that Mottley would have used Friday’s meeting to take a pellucid position on the future of the incumbent who reportedly confirmed to the branch that she was facing undisclosed health challenges.
But more important, Mottley has to ensure that she is not portrayed as the source of any further divisiveness in the BLP which would only have a debilitating effect on the party at a time when it most needs to show Barbadians that it is a credible Government-in-Waiting.
The true impact of the loss of Owen Arthur’s experience and understanding of politics (Kerrie Symmonds and Dr William Duguid notwithstanding!) is now beginning to emerge as was clearly demonstrated by the party’s handling of the still unresolved Speaker Michael Carrington issue.
Contrary to earlier anticipation among parliamentary sources, the report from the Committee of Privileges did not make it to the House of Assembly last week. Though there was no indication of what, if any, difficulty the committee might be having with its investigations, it is becoming increasing clear that the Opposition might have taken a wrong turn when it sought out the route of a resolution of the matter by the House.
This Administration has clearly signalled that it has little or no regard for the moral imperative that so profoundly demands its attention in the matter.
Mottley has a chance to redeem herself by how she handles the developing Christ Church West imbroglio.
She has to show that she has clean hands in this affair, and demonstrate that she has a firm grip not only on the political activities of the BLP but also on the management of its administrative affairs.
Albert Brandford is an independent political correspondent. Email [email protected]