Monday, April 15, 2024

Bees not ready yet


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WHEN SOMEONE in a position of authority with a vision, goal and agenda to achieve higher office is removed unceremoniously from their post, they would understandably be very upset. And that’s putting it mildly.
I am therefore not surprised that nearly nine months after Mia Mottley’s removal as Leader of the Opposition last October 18, she has not publicly embraced the man who replaced her, former Prime Minister Owen Arthur. 
As readers may recall, Mottley expressed dissatisfaction with the manner of her dismissal. She contended that none of her parliamentary colleagues had ever in the two and a half years that she was leader expressed any fundamental issue regarding her stewardship. Yet, this is the reason that the majority of them voted to dump her. 
After that, Mottley kept her distance from Arthur and the four others – George Payne, Ronald Toppin, Gline Clarke and Dale Marshall – who took the initiative to oust her. This was most evident in the House of Assembly where she sat away from them.
In the January by-election in St John, she spoke on behalf of the party’s candidate but, again, there was no interaction between her and any of the five that I am aware of.
In fact, the only interaction that is said to have occurred between Mottley and Arthur, in particular, since last October was a brief embrace at the funeral of a late supporter. Though this is widely talked about, there has never been any official confirmation that it actually took place.
So though Mottley and Arthur have not traded words in the public domain, they have not been cordial either, and one wonders how long this stand-off will continue? For sure, it is not doing the image of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) any good. 
I focus on this because the theme of the BLP’s fourth annual Heroes Day picnic last Thursday was Bees Ready. The chairman of the picnic’s organizing committee, Mr Jerome Walcott, explained that this theme was chosen because “at a time when the country is crying out for leadership, the party and its supporters are saying that we are ready to give that leadership to our country”.
Walcott said there was a “feeling of reinvigoration, excitement and camaraderie among the party faithful; there is a sense that the party is dealing with the issues and seems to have renewed energy and a sense of purpose. This is borne out by the attendance at recent party events and branch meetings”. 
True or not, the fact is that the BLP is not a united party as they have yet to deal with the fracture between Mottley and Arthur. Until then, the Bees will not be ready.
If the Bees truly want to claim that they are again a cohesive unit, then Mottley and Arthur must publicly put aside their differences and be seen working together in the interest of the party, and by extension, the people of this country.
What is clear is that with 18 months tops before the next general election, Arthur et al need the people-savvy, feminine skills of Mottley to help carry the fight to the ruling Democratic Labour Party.
Her uncompromising demands for CLICO to be placed under judicial management from the get-go despite derision from the Government demonstrated her foresight and political instincts. That Government is now pursuing the measure two years afterwards only serves to vindicate her.
Likewise, Mottley cannot sit on the sidelines and not play an intimate role in the BLP’s strategy against the Government. Since the return of Arthur to the helm, the party has been able to mount a more creditable platform on the challenges facing the economy.
Clearly, the joint efforts of these two would strengthen the party’s strategy and platform, and the sight of them working together again would send the strong, undeniable message that the Bees are indeed ready.
It is time therefore that the BLP sorts out this fracture. As politics is about interests and not friendship, Mottley needs to put aside any strong feelings she may have, and work closely with Arthur and the four other BLP parliamentarians.
She must know that she cannot be ambivalent to Arthur if the BLP hopes to gain public confidence. The sooner then that they “kiss and make up”, the sooner the party would be able to get on with their agenda and take the fight to the Government. 
 Sanka Price is the SATURDAY SUN Editor. 


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