The Barbados Labour Party is coming to “face it and fix it”.
It’s leader warned the Barbadian electorate tonight that it would be failing a new generation of citizens if the Freundel Stuart Adminsitration was given another term in office on February 21.
His tried, tested and proven leadership, said Owen Arthur, was what Barbados needed now more than ever and once given the opportunity to lead the country again, he intended to work harder than he did in his first 14 years in charge of Barbados.
“When I tell you that I want to give you leadership it is because things could be difficult … but they do not have to be this bad and there are this bad because our country should not be governed in this way and I have come tonight to give you a sincere statement of intent. We will give you a good government, an honest government and a government that will face it and fix it,” Arthur said.
In what he described as a “simple sincere speech” before a massive crowd at a BLP rally in Haggatt Hall, St. Michael tonight, the St. Peter candidate said the alternative was a Prime Minister whose leadership was so inept that he had surprised himself with a general election announcement.
“I have come tonight to tell you that I offer you leadership. This country is a wonderful country, but we have managed in this country to do a lot with a little. We don’t have gold, we don’t have a lot of oil, we don’t have baxuite but we have made Barbados a great little country,” the former Prime Minister said.
“I say to you that there has been no time in our history where leadership mattered [more] … I offer you leadership that has been tried, leadership that has been tested and leadership that has been proven.
“I know what it is to hold a country to a course, I know what it is to go to a Cabinet week by week and tell my Cabinet colleagues if there is a problem face it and fix it. I know what it is to stop a Cabinet and ask them one by one ‘Is this what we got elected to do? And if it is not … let us do the people’s business in the way that the people would expect us to do their business’,” he added.
Arthur said the way Stuart called elections and the absence of a Democratic Labour Party campaign since was symptomatic of the way the current Government was doing things — the wrong way.
“This campaign has caught one and one person only napping. It is a man called Freundel Stuart. He is the first person in history of politics, not just in Barbados but all across the world, who called an election … and surprised himself by the fact that he had to call an election at all,” he said.
“Only a disciplined party, only a disciplined political institution, should be trusted to lead a serious country during difficult and challenging times and in this election campaign we are showing you that this Barbados Labour Party is a disciplined institution, it is a focused institution, it knows how to get the job done.
“And in the same way that we are running this campaign [with] everything going like clockwork, the moment it [was] called we are ready, everything planned properly, discipline among our candidates. In the same way we are running our affairs we give you the assurance that we will run yours,” he added.
Arthur said while his mission at the BLP’s first major campaign event was not to “quarrel” with Stuart, the fact was that “Mr Freundel Stuart is inadequate”.
“I would not know how to run a government where a Minister of Finance says that he is not signing a letter of comfort that my Cabinet says must be signed, I would humbug him. I would not know how to run a government where a Minister of Agriculture tells his staff that he could not meet with my Minister of Finance, I would humbug hum.
“If I have to act in the interest of the people of Barbados I should act without having to threaten a man,” he added.
The BLP leader said he was being charitable when he described the current Cabinet as “a collection of wild boys and you have a leader who fails the first test of leadership, that he does not know how to make decision”.
“It is time for us to trust our people and it is time for our people to take back their country. We do not need the International Monetary Fund or any rating agencies or the Inter-American Development Bank to tell us how to run Barbados. Give our people the tools, give them the incentives and they will do the job,” he stated.
“We have a situation where my party is saying that once again we must find it in our hearts to trust our people, that we must rely not just on our exports but on you the individual people of Barbados … to help carrying forward this country once again.
“If we do not all of us join to make a better Barbados what will we tell our children? Will we tell our children that we stood idly by and watched a group of wild boys masquerading as a Cabinet rob our children of their future?
“I say no and in this campaign we are going to start by asking the DLP to account, but we have prepared for you and we shall present soon a manifesto based on realism, based on hope that tells you we can fix this economy as we did between 1994 and 2008. We can make Barbados once again a country that is respected in the world.
“I can give you the leadership, but you must give us the vote and I pledge to you with all sincerity in my children’s name and in your children’s name that I will go to work and work the next term harder than I worked in the first 14 years and I am asking you to make that possible.” (SC)