ALBERT BRANDFORD: Rommell, an unlikely fox
THOSE WHO PROFESS TO KNOW Rommell Marshall well were not surprised recently when he announced plans to seek to rejoin the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) after three years and possibly become a candidate for the next election.
Those who do not know him, but only know of him, and his history with the BLP, on the other hand, were simply shocked.
Was this a move of his own volition? they asked. Or was he masking the intent and agenda of another?
The wider perception is, though, that he is a rather harmless fellow, in the sense that he is not known for taking many brilliant political initiatives, and certainly does not bear, or warrant, any association with his almost namesake, the famous German World War II general, Erwin Rommel, known as the Desert Fox.
Truth is, from this distance, it is hard to fathom what Marshall could take to the BLP’s table in a second iteration as a prospective candidate that he didn’t in the first.
Further, what would make him think that even in the absence from the party of his old nemesis Owen Arthur (“from a statesman to a groundsman!”) that his membership application would be more attractive to the relevant councils even if brightly burnished by the old canon that the enemy of my enemy is my friend?
There is nothing from Marshall’s past, especially his service in the Arthur Cabinet, from which he was disappointed, to suggest that he would be a key catch for a Cabinet of current BLP leader Mia Mottley.
The national discussion that his decision has prompted also took into the account its timing, in the sense that it came out while the party’s eyes and ears were turned to another of its former MPs, Dr William Duguid, who had also fled – not the party, just the island – but is now said to be have been asked by constituents to mull over a return to quell the tripping hearts of the apparently excitable Christ Church West riding which is his former constituency.
It is a curious confluence of events that could have serious consequences, both short and long term, for the BLP, especially if and when it emerges that some people have been acting in their own interests rather than those of the party.
But Marshall’s return, if it is eventuated, could have the consequence of an immediate and dangerous open rupture in the BLP setting the Dale Marshall/George Payne group (remember there are no factions in political parties unless it’s the other side!) against Mottley’s supporters.
What was once thought of as just a long hairline fracture running between the Mottley group and the apparent marriage of convenience between the Arthur/Payne/Marshall alliance could now create a schism that could possibly lead to attempts at a repeat of her October 2010 ouster as Leader of the Opposition.
Those of us on the outside looking in understand, as explained by general secretary Jerome Walcott, that Marshall’s application has to follow an established process for these matters and in the end it would be up to the relevant council to take a decision.
However, it would give us out here a better sense of the “who and why” of this unusual set of circumstances if we were able to learn whose signatures are the application form.
I said earlier that Rommell is no Desert Fox. And I meant that to suggest that the German had a reputation as a strategist with a vision of the way forward for his men in the field, if not the country then under Hitler’s total domination.
The question is: what would it mean for the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP), if Marshall were granted his wishes and appears under the BLP’s banner in St Michael North West where apparently the nationally embattled Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler is still very popular on the ground?
Not much, I would venture.
Marshall would present a soft and inviting target for the Dems who, with access to the Government files, would not need a second invitation to give full and salacious ventilation to the entire episode surrounding his departure from the Arthur Cabinet.
It is the kind of nightmare scenario that could cause every BLP politician many a sleepless night and ultimately presage further unwanted divisions within the Grand Old Party at a time when it should be accelerating its run for the general election tape.
Albert Brandford is an independent political correspondent. Email: [email protected]