Brother of incumbent pledges strong support to BLP hopeful
He is the brother of former Barbados Labour Party (BLP) leader, recently turned independent area representative Owen Arthur.
But don’t expect former St Lucy candidate Richard Arthur to quit the BLP any time soon.
In a candid interview with Barbados TODAY yesterday, the younger Arthur, who represented the BLP in the 2003 general elections, said he had been advised by the St Peter incumbent to stay put, and to continue on in the BLP fold.
“When Owen tendered his resignation from the BLP I called him, because like most Barbadians I was shocked. I called him and asked, ‘Owen Arthur what have you gone and done?”
His next question to his older brother, who he looks up to, was, ‘what should I do?’, to which he said the three-term prime minister replied, ‘Stay the course, you do not have to go anywhere’.
However, in quitting the BLP back in July, the former prime minister said he was concerned that the party had lost its soul and its way. The sudden move took many by surprise and did more than simply hurt the Opposition’s position in parliament.
In a further blow to the party, the St Peter representative said he would be serving out the rest of his five-year term as an independent legislator, while stating emphatically that he was no longer prepared to subject himself to Mia Mottley’s leadership of the BLP.
However, his brother Richard said: “I know that Owen’s heart is still with the BLP”, which he led for over 15 years.
“He would call me to make sure that certain things happen. Like this week with the nomination process [in St Peter] he asked me to ensure that it would not be any kind of political football. He would like to see the nomination process done properly and all party business done properly,” he added.
Interestingly, the former leader still seems to be calling the BLP shots in his rural constituency.
In an earlier interview with Barbados TODAY, Owen Arthur revealed that it was he who had chosen and had been grooming Colin Jordan as the BLP’s successor in St Peter before he resigned.
In that interview, the former prime minister also revealed that he and Jordan remained very close allies, who conversed regularly. In fact, up to very recently, Jordan has been deputising for the 65-year-old political stalwart, who celebrates his birthday today.
The unfolding political story in the northern riding gets even more intriguing since Richard Arthur is currently the unofficial “campaign manager” for Jordan in St Peter. He is also scheduled to present Jordan for nomination when the branch meets on Sunday to formally choose his brother’s successor.
While acknowledging that “there is a lot of infighting within the party over the speed at which Jordan’s nomination is being done” following his brother’s sudden exit, Richard Arthur stressed the need for the party to rally its support behind Jordan at this time.
“Many members of the executive of branches believe that the nomination process should be completed in their constituencies before the [BLP’s] annual conference is held later this month. They believe that their constituency should have a caretaker before they attend the conference. However, Jordan’s fight will not be one within the BLP, but one on the ground to win the seat for the party,” he cautioned.
Pointing out that prior to the last general election Jordan had been identified by the executive of the St Peter branch, the younger Arthur explained that “Jordan was earmarked to be the person to take over from Owen. Owen had already indicated that the 2013 general election would have been his last election. Even before Owen resigned, Jordan was the person who attended funerals and social events on behalf of the incumbent,” he said.
“Prior to 2013, the branch began to look at the transitioning from Owen to someone else and Jordan was the branch’s choice back then,” he added.
Asked if he ever thought of returning to elective politics, Richard Arthur, who runs a refridgeration business, admitted that the thought did enter his mind after the BLP lost the general election in 2008.
“I was preparing myself for that, but then after Owen returned as Leader of the Opposition I decided that the party needed to groom a young person. St Peter is considered one of the safe seats for the BLP, therefore it was necessary to groom a younger person who could become a key person in the party.”
He however dismissed any suggestion that a subsequent run in he had with the law in 2012 had deterred him from active involvement in politics, pointing out that he had always been in the forefront of his brother’s campaigns.
Arguing that Jordan was an attractive candidate, he said: “Jordan is well recognised especially because of his church connections. He is an elder in the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Mile & Quarter. He is well respected in the Rose Hill/ Mile&Quarter area. I know that the people from Black Bess and Diamond Corner are on board. The majority of people in St Peter are on board with Jordan at this stage. The branch meeting at Alexandra School in August this year showed that the branch was behind him.”