After weeks of feverish political campaigning, both the ruling Democratic Labour Party and the Opposition Barbados Labour Party have a few items of housekeeping to consider as they work toward finding solutions to some of the myriad economic issues facing Barbados.
Some people often believe that governance rests with the party in power but the role of the Opposition as a voice of caution, advice, and in many instances, censure, is important to the overall direction that a tiny democracy such as Barbados takes.
It was heartening to hear Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley suggest during her recent media briefing that they stood willing to assist Government in finding solutions to some of the problems which confront us. Mottley’s track record has always been one of putting Barbados first and we do not anticipate that this position will change.
But there are some matters to which both parties have immediately to attend.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is yet to name his Cabinet some six days after the general election and we would hope that this is done in the soonest possible time. We note at least one instance where a minister of the previous Cabinet made public comment about a matter related to the ministry which he held prior to the dissolution of Parliament.
As it stands even if some previous ministers are “keeping an eye” on their previous portfolios until a Cabinet is officially sworn, with the defeat of former ministers George Hutson and Esther Byer Suckoo, no elected Member of Parliament to our knowledge is “keeping an eye” on the Ministry of International Business and International Transport and the Ministry of Labour. The diminished numbers on the Government benches makes it doubly important that this situation is dealt with greater dispatch.
Then there is the question of a deputy leader on both sides of the Lower House.
And none of the choices on either side seems straightforward.
On the Government side the obvious contenders appear to be St. James South MP Donville Inniss, St. Michael North West MP Chris Sinckler, St. Philip West MP Dr David Estwick and St. Michael South Central MP Richard Sealy. Interestingly, of these, only Estwick and Sealy have officially acted as Prime Minister. Christ Church East Central MP Ronald Jones, for a lengthy period of time, was the individual who always acted as Prime Minister in the absence of Stuart but that favoured position came to an abrupt end more than a year ago. While Sinckler is the attractive choice, he is on record as having no interest in leading the party.
Of course the Constitution of Barbados does not mandate on a Prime Minister the requirement of officially naming a Deputy Prime Minister. But in the interest of continuity and a settled leadership structure, such an appointment makes good political sense.
On the Opposition side, Mottley is faced with a greater challenge.
She would be a brave woman, and one perhaps close to divine, if she were to name either of St. Andrew MP George Payne, St. Michael North MP Ronald Toppin, St. George North MP Gline Clarke, St James Central MP Kerrie Symmonds or St. Joseph MP Dale Marshall as her deputy. Toppin, Payne, Clarke, Marshall, along with St. Peter MP Owen Arthur, were those who caused her great anguish in 2010 when they ousted her from the position of Opposition Leader. Marshall presents the worst case scenario as Mottley had made him her deputy after the 2008 general election defeat and he deserted her in 2010 in her greatest hour of need.
Though Symmonds was not involved in the 2010 deposing of Mottley, his personal issues had previously led to Mottley calling for his resignation from the Upper Chamber where he served as an Opposition Senator. Subsequent public comments carried in the media suggested that he was not amused.
So to whom does she look for a deputy?
Some might suggest that in the interest of burying the hatchet either Marshall or Symmonds be made her deputy. But would that be safe as 2018 approached? Some might even consider it akin to the invention of Bajan roulette.
In and out of Parliament St. Thomas MP Cynthia Forde and returning St. Michael East MP Trevor Prescod were Mottley’s greatest allies and comforters when she was set upon by her parliamentary colleagues. Both provide safer options for Mottley but she is 47 and in the context of the future and continuity Forde would not be the logical choice.
Prescod would be a loyal choice for Mottley, but has never been a favourite son of the BLP’s hierarchal structure.
Mottley might be tempted to seek out someone from the new crop of BLP parliamentarians, of which there are a number of exciting, if inexperienced, possibilities.
Yes, some very interesting days lay ahead.