Blows for Arthur
Incumbent MP for St. Peter and former Prime Minister, Owen Arthur, last night came under heavy fire at a ruling Democratic Labour Party mass meeting at Mile-And-A-Quarter, in the same parish, held to support the candidature of Arthur’s opponent, Haynesley Benn.
The political licks came from Minister of Health and outgoing representative for St. James South, Donville Inniss, Minister of Agriculture and incumbent for St. Philip West, Dr. David Estwick and the parliamentary representative for St. Lucy in the last Parliament and Minister of Small Business, Denis Kellman.
Inniss started the “ball rolling”, as one of the three final speakers. He told the audience that the Barbados Labour Party continued to promote Arthur as the saviour of Barbados.
“I don’t know why is it that between 1994 and 2007 when Mr. Arthur held the reigns of government in this country as Prime Minister and as minister of finance in the so-called days of plenty, our economy was not restructured and diversified?” Inniss queried.
“We came into office in 2008 expecting to do everything possible, until that deep recession hit us in the face. We in the Democratic Labour Party did not throw our hands in the air and say there is nothing we can do. Instead, all of us rolled up our sleeves and got down to the work.
Inniss suggested that when Arthur “had all the money in the world”, he did not under take any major renovations to the island’s health facilities, but found it fit to close the St. Joseph Hospital.
The health minister also “knocked” Arthur, claiming he did not invest in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital either.
“In the days of plenty Owen Arthur and the Barbados Labour Party did not find it fit to construct or to provide housing for low income and middle income Barbadians,” the Cabinet member declared.
He noted that the DLP Administration built more houses in its five years, than Arthur and his Government did in their 14 years in power.
“While Arthur was busy taking care of the ‘too few’ on the West Coast, and selected others, others in this society were suffering and languishing,” Inniss suggested.
However, he told supporters, many of whom were clad in the party colour of yellow, that the Freundel Stuart Government was able to provide housing solutions to the poor and in addition, give those who had been living legally in the National Housing Corporation units for more than 20 years, the opportunity to own the homes they once rented.
“We’ve actually empowered, … provided a piece of this rock, to almost 3,000 Barbadian families, much more than Arthur could do in 14 years.”
“When you look around St. Peter,” he continued, “and see the kind of housing development that has evolved, you have to thank the Democratic Labour Party. When you look at the fact that our social services remain in tact, and we’ve been able to protect the most vulnerable in this society in the midst of the economic challenges, you have to ask yourselves, what was Arthur doing?”
Inniss also described the Opposition Leader as the most neglectful parliamentary representative for St. Peter ever. He suggested that Arthur has been examined and found wanting.
The former prime minister was also taken to task by Estwick, who asked him why he “doesn’t go an rest himself”, rather than trying regain power. Estwick told the crowd that in 2008, late Prime Minister David Thompson and he “almost sent Arthur to his grave.”.
The St. Philip West candidate said the only thing that the St. Peter candidate did not do, was to go to the Psychiatric Hospital. A recurring question that punctuated Estwick’s fiery speech and had the supporters “cracking up” was: “Owen, why yuh coming back?”
“You believe Barbadians forgot you?” he added.
Estwick criticised Arthur for “seeking to sell off Barbados to foreigners”.
“I gine sand paper yuh tail all ’bout Barbados!” he exclaimed.
He accused him of not representing the people of St. Peter during the past five years.
When it came to Kellman’s turn, he said he was of the opinion that Arthur and his then administration “mashed up” the Treasury of Barbados.
“If I was another speaker I would not say mash up. But you know me, I only know mash up,” reasoned the St. Lucy MP.
He told the people that Arthur was bankrupt of ideas and they could not go back to him. (EJ)