Barbados Labour Party leader, Owen Arthur, is prepared to sign a special code of conduct governing how politicians behave in the current general election campaign.
But the former Prime Minister, claiming his opponents in the Democratic Labour Party had already shown “a willingness to breach” the best standards of behaviour, said he would not do so unless he was assured of sanctions against people who flout such an agreement.
Arthur made his feelings known this morning as he and the BLP’s 29 other candidates journeyed to the Treasury Building in the City to each pay their $250 election deposit. He said his party’s manifesto was ready to be released and that Barbadians could expect no gimmicks, but “a disciplined political institution, a focussed political institution, a united political institution to take responsibility for its affairs at this very difficult time in the country’s development”.
As far as the code of conduct was concerned, he was hesitant to affix his name to one this time because, according to him, after doing so in the 1994 general election it was breached by the then DLP leader.
“I spent a whole campaign, having signed a code of conduct, having to defend the party against a lie that was so villainous. If there is to be a code of conduct, then it has to be meaningful and there would have to be penalties for the breach of it and those who want us to sign a code of conduct would have to be prepared to do what they were not prepared to do in 1994,” he asserted.
“A code of conduct merely as a set of words that people do not intend to honour is a waste of time. If there is to be a code of conduct it should be retroactive… So a code of conduct as just a formality, in my view, without any means of enforcing it, without any means of sanction, is just another form of political window dressing.
“May I say, however, the Barbados Labour Party has had and will impose a code of conduct on itself. We are here to deal with the people’s business, you will find a campaign in which we will tell the people of Barbados ‘this is the situation facing the country, this is our perspective as to how it will be dealt with, this is how we will go forward to deal with it’,” he added.
Arthur said the BLP had carefully planned its campaign and “unlike the Democratic Labour Party it has not come as a surprise to us”.
“We expected that it was going to take place, we had said all along that we were ready to go to the people to present the people with an opportunity to give this country a government that can make the future better than it is today,” the BLP head said.
“And all through this campaign you will see evidence of a united party, a focused party, a party that knows how to plan and take charge of its affairs and today you have seen for the first time in the history of Barbados a group of candidates constituting themselves as a team which can become the next government of Barbados coming together as a team that is in unison.
“And through the campaign we will send the signal as to how we will govern the country, focused, disciplined, well organised, well prepared, united and this is the message that we are sending today. It is how we intend not only to conduct this campaign, but after the 21 of February when we become the government of Barbados you can expect the same approach you are seeing now.”
He said Barbadians should expect a manifesto which was “a blend of realism and hope”, not unrealistic promises.
“We will not promise duty free cars, interest free mortgages, free houses, a lot of baloney. This country is facing its greatest ever calamity, we are bringing realism and hope… We want to give this country … a better future and we believe that we can do that,” Arthur noted.
“We believe that Barbados is a good country, with good people, afflicted with a bad Government and that if we change the Government and take advantage of the fact that we have a good country with good people that we can make things better for the future.
“Above all, for the first time in the history of this country it can be demonstrated that a large part of the country’s problems doesn’t have to do with economic or other factors, it has to do with the way in which this country has been governed and the promise that we give you is that we will govern Barbados properly … and restore the good name of Barbados.” (SC)