Acting Prime Minister George Payne has deemed Bishop Joe Atherley’s move as despicable. (Picture by Lennox Devonish.)
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Barbados Labour Party (BLP) chairman George Payne has lambasted Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley for crossing the floor after running on a BLP ticket in the recent General Election.
Payne, who is Minister of Housing, Lands and Rural Development, and is now acting as Prime Minister as Mia Mottley is overseas attending meetings with the International Monetary Fund in Washington, said he was hurt by the manner of Atherley’s departure and found his behaviour “despicable”.
The St Andrew MP, currently Parliament’s longest-serving member, demanded an apology from his St Michael West counterpart, who he said insulted all 29 of his former colleagues on the Government benches in the way he questioned Monday’s budgetary measures after championing them during the political campaign.
Payne also asked Atherley several questions, including if he had resigned from the BLP or if he intended to resign so that his constituents could decide if they still wanted him [Atherley] to represent them in the House of Assembly.
“In our manifesto we stressed the need for consultation and the consultation was done before the election and the consultation was done after the election. So, in a sense it hurt my heart when I listened to the Leader of the Opposition and I realised that there are certain questions that he asked with respect to these budgetary proposals,” Payne said yesterday during his contribution.
“I was hurt and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Every night during the election campaign . . . nobody articulated these policies any better than the Honourable Member for St Michael West . . . and [he comes] to this House and asks questions like: If Mia’s plan is home-grown or facilitated by the IMF; if we sent signals to the electorate of the path ahead; will the Dems be investigated for malfeasance?”
He said Atherley asking these questions was “an insult to all of us and I am wondering whether or not that Honourable Member will have any conscience when he leaves in here.
“I think that he needs to apologise to all 29 of us. I sat in a House with a family of 30 and when one member could behave like that, it is certainly despicable. I take issue with that behavior and I believe that when his conscience pricks him, he should do something about it.”
The acting Prime Minister told Atherley that in the same way he asked questions, he, Payne, had some of his own.
“And you had 29 people either going into your constituency or next to your constituency every night, and you were the holy one and you didn’t tell them ‘I don’t want you to say that’.
“If you don’t believe in the policies, you are a member of the party and you don’t believe in them, well when the members come to speak, tell them, ‘Do not say certain things on my political platform’. But you aided and abetted all of that, you were part of a team.”
Payne also made it clear that while he did not intend to ask Atherley to resign from the BLP, “I am leaving that to your conscience and your conscience should prick you”. (GBM)