Owen, break the silence

We are very much into a heightened political season and we return today to a subject of national importance.

Much has been made of the relationship between former Prime Minister Owen Arthur and his political deputy for 14 years while he was leader of the Barbados Labour Party Government, Mia Mottley.

It is now history that following the BLP’s 2008 election loss, Mottley’s selection as Opposition Leader and the subsequent death of Prime Minister David Thompson, that Arthur and the majority of the BLP Opposition voted to return the St. Peter MP to the helm of the party.

That bitter battle was initially played out in public. But Mottley’s profile and adulation, to her credit, rose in the estimation of both BLP and Democratic Labour Party supporters as a result of the stately manner in which she carried herself amid the intrigue visited upon her.

As the imminent general election drew nigh, there were public demonstrations that all had been forgiven and that the BLP was once again a united family, and more importantly, a viable alternative Government.

Of course, this mending of fences, if true, would be welcome news for all Barbadians who appreciate the importance of having choices in any stable democratic political process.

But a serious allegation has been made about this mending of fences.

And even more grave, has been the silence surrounding the allegation.

Last Sunday fortnight during the opening of the DLP’s St. Andrew campaign office, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart charged that in an effort to rid the BLP of Mottley, Arthur had requested of him to invite the St. Michael North East MP into the DLP fold.

Stuart, an attorney-at-law by profession, and a seasoned one at that, did not make the statement from the privileged safe haven of the Lower House of Parliament. He made his allegation in a vulnerable forum.

We do not know if this alleged request to Stuart was verbal or in writing, but what we do know is that one week has passed and the accusation has not been met with a denial or call for retraction by Mottley’s colleague, the Opposition Leader.

Politics is familiar ground for marriages of convenience and unholy unions. We have seen it played out before in both the BLP and the DLP.

Within the context of the challenging social and economic times that Barbadians face, they will be keenly interested in the internal machinations that prevail in political parties seeking to occupy the highest office in the land.

This is not the time for a fractured administration, unsettled leadership or divided loyalties on Bay Street from either party.

We say it is incumbent on the Opposition Leader to either rubbish Prime Minister Stuart’s allegations, in which case the DLP’s political leader owes him an apology, or to state clearly, if the allegation is true, why he would have made such an approach. It is a party she has served loyally and energetically for more than two decades and she and John Public, whether Bees or Dees, deserve an answer.

English writer George Orwell once said that political language was designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. An abundance of political language will be spewed in the coming days and weeks ahead.

Some believe that practical politics consists of ignoring facts and indeed, politicians depend on this truism to maintain support on the one hand, and to shroud their true intent on the other.

The Opposition Leader’s silence on the issue does Mottley and himself a disservice.

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