Come off it, Ambassador Benn, do!
I have avoided any statements so far, and I am sure you all will be very disappointed if all you came here to capture is [my comments on Owen] Arthur. I am not promising you any juicy stories today. I promise to walk the high road when it comes to these things . . . .
–– Former St Peter candidate Haynesley Benn, as he addressed a Democratic Labour Party branch meeting at All Saints School last night.
But, if you think a year in Canada has changed the outspoken St Peter-born-and-bred politician into a conservative, metropolitan diplomat, think again! In fact, we would daresay that the goodly Mr Benn has not mellowed one bit; not after witnessing his performance at last night’s branch meeting of the ruling Democratic Labour Party.
Not only did Mr Benn fully “wash his mouth” on the still topical issue of Owen Arthur going Independent, but somehow he ended up repeating, albeit in explanatory fashion, the very same attack that had landed him in hot water with his own party in the immediate aftermath of the February 21, 2013 general election.
One would have thought Mr Benn would have learnt from being left in the cold, and that his icy concerns would have thawed out by now. But no! More than a year later, and despite a blistering Canadian winter in between, Mr Benn still seems to be carrying a grudge, which we feel stands to hurt and not help the DLP’s chances in St Peter, a Barbados Labour Party stronghold.
It’s hardly comprehensible why Mr Benn feels now is as good a time as any to to remind us all of the neglect that has befallen St Peter –– and not at the hands of area representative Mr Arthur, but of the Government, his administration, that he insists “ought to have done and corrected what we criticized Arthur for not doing”.
In fact, Mr Benn went further in his public chastisement to caution the ruling DLP that if it was ever going to recapture the rural constituency, “the things that the people in St Peter have been calling for, we have got to do for them”. He listed areas such as Gays, Date Tree Hill and Six Men’s where the roads remain in a deplorable state to this very day.
While we carry no brief for this Government, or any other, for that matter, we feel that Mr Benn, having aired this laundry in public before, could have chosen a more diplomatic way of handling these concerns this time around.
For instance, as Consul General to Canada he could request an audience with the Prime Minister to update him on his sojourn in Canada and once those issues had been fully ventilated, he could then have broached the more sensitive issue of St Peter.
We note that his tone was much more tempered last night, but with the BLP on the backfoot in the constituency, is this really the time to remind us all that the Government really did nothing for St Peter between 2008 and 2013? Why at all the need to address the St Peter branch? Has Mr Benn not hung up his political boots permanently by accepting his current assignment in Toronto?
It seems Mr Benn still has a point to prove, especially to those who may have been upset about the prior manner in which he raised his concerns about St Peter’s neglect, or felt his was a case of crying sour grapes. To him we say: Be done with it! Your point was well taken from the very first time you stated it.
Instead of his appearing as a helpless victim of the “neglect and lack of representation” that currently pervades St Peter, we urge the goodly ambassador to use what ever influence he wields now, which he didn’t possess as Minister of Commerce in the last Cabinet, to bring about some change.
Indeed, it is a crying shame that Speightstown, which fell on barren times during Owen Arthur’s tenure, remains a forgotten city. Maybe the goodly Consul General, for all of his love and passion for St Peter, could seek out opportunities and experiences from, say Charlestown, that could help with the revival of our “neglected” northern town, or look to other areas for best practices that may benefit the entire constituency.
Surely, the same pebbles and leaves left in 2008 and found in 2014, should not be still visible post-2014.
Let it not be said again, Mr Benn, that “we had done nothing, despite many pleadings”!