Joseph believes Mia’s leadership has been compromised
If political scientist Dr Tennyson Joseph could advise Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley, he would tell her to step down as head of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
Joseph, a lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, tells Barbados TODAY that Mottley is yet to be fully accepted as leader, a year and a half after the BLP lost the national poll to the Freundel Stuart-led Democratic Labour Party.
Even as former Prime Minister Owen Arthur and St James Central MP Kerrie Symmonds last night dismissed any ideas that there were factions in the BLP, Joseph said that compounding Mottley’s problems was the fact that her role was constantly being compromised by her predecessor.
“If you are the head of an organization and every day you come to work you have difficulty with people following you, then you have to make a decision. You cannot lead that way,” he insisted.
“If I were in her place, I would not stay on as leader of the party. I would have happily recognized that the opposition to me is unrelenting and I am unable to carry the party forward in that way. I would have stepped down and allowed the party to make a decision on its leadership, but I would also continue in a very ordinary profile in the party and remember there is another election to come.”
Joseph added: “If you have a former Prime Minister in your ranks who is asserting desire for leadership, then that is a complex issue. It diminishes you as a leader. However, if Arthur dies tomorrow, Mottley would emerge as the leader of the party and the entire island would agree with it. Even persons in her ranks who are expressing dissent now would agree that she is the leader.”
The political scientist pointed out what he views as shortcomings in Mottley’s leadership, including her failure to organize mass protests following the recent triple-notch downgrade of the country’s bond rating by international ratings agency, Moody’s Investor Services.
He said that lack of action by the country’s Opposition, as well as that of other groups in response to the downgrade, clearly shows that Barbadian society is facing an institutional crisis.
“The trade unions have not taken to the streets. All of the institutions which we assume are institutions of mass action have been compromised, including the political parties. What Bobby Clarke’s march [last Friday] demonstrated is that the statement made by the unions that people do not want to strike shows their compromised nature. Why have they not done it?” Joseph challenged.
“Mia Mottley engaged in mass action with the town hall meetings, but even then she was criticized from within the party. At one time I recognized that she did not know what to do. People even from within her party were saying she was power hungry. There is a point where a leader needs a mass movement behind them.
“There was a point where she was saying that some other people should say something. When there was the downgrade she said I am waiting to hear what other people have to say. That was the sign of a leader tired of being out front with nobody at her back.”
Speaking at a BLP St Joseph constituency branch meeting at the Grantley Adams Memorial School last night, Symmonds, addressing concerns about unity in the party, said: “We have to end this climate of distrust and fear of Labour Party people inside the Labour Party. The time has come to stop peeping under ourselves, to stop peeping behind BLP people, but to unleash the wealth that this BLP has so that the BLP can reposition and ready itself to assume the reins of Government.”
Meanwhile, Mottley was not the only political leader criticized by Joseph.
The university lecturer also issued damning condemnation of the entire crop of institutional leaders, describing some of them as very weak.
Joseph zeroed in on the leadership of Prime Minister Stuart, saying it was a classic example of someone “enjoying power for its own sake”.
“All around you are negatives; things that people used to enjoy they no longer enjoy and taxation is going up. On the broad macroeconomic level there is decline. Today, what are you achieving as a Prime Minister? That is where the question comes in, beyond the Machiavellian discussion of holding onto power at all cost. Is it a case where the balance of forces are so limited that he has no room to manoeuvre and is therefore compromised?” the academic added.
Joseph said that from as far back as when he assumed the leadership of the DLP following the death of David Thompson, Stuart should have asserted himself by reshuffling his Cabinet.
“It was the expected thing on becoming the Prime Minister. A leader who is unable to take a specific action then comes across as a weak leader and now with the economic crisis he has tied his hands even further,” he added.