Party supporters divided over move to elevate Owen Arthur
Mixed emotions are flowing through the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) camp over the possible move to install former Barbados Labour Party Leader and ex-Prime Minister Owen Arthur as the DLP Government’s chief economic advisor.
Earlier this week, Barbados TODAY broke the story that Arthur, who currently serves as the Independent member of parliament for St Peter, had been approached by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler to serve as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, putting him in a key position to render economic help.
However, while Sir Frank Alleyne has described Arthur as the “perfect replacement” for him, when Barbados TODAY visited DLP’s George Street Auditorium in Belleville, St Michael this afternoon, not all were in agreement with Sir Frank.
In fact, some members rejected outright the move by Sinckler to call on Arthur for advice.
When asked how they felt about the possibility of Arthur becoming an ally, a group of women who chose not to give their names strongly objected.
“I don’t want Owen Arthur around the DLP. In fact if you ask me, Arthur is who is responsible for Barbados being in the position that it is in today,” one declared boisterously.
“What could he possibly do to help the DLP? We don’t need him!”
An elderly lady said she wanted the party to have nothing to do with either Arthur, or Clyde Mascoll, a former leader of the party who left to join the BLP.
“We don’t want Owen or Clyde. There are enough bright minds in the DLP for them to find somebody else to do the job. I don’t know why people believe that Owen Arthur is the only person who can find a solution for Barbados,” she declared.
Another woman contended that hiring Arthur would send the wrong message to members of the party and might even cause some people to leave.
“This has the potential to cause a lot of uproar in the DLP. There is a lot of buzz going around about this and I have even heard some people say that if they give Arthur that job they are going to leave the DLP,” she said;.
However, one of those in support of Arthur’s promotion was longstanding DLP member Astor B. Watts.
Watts, who has been a staunch supporter of the party for over 50 years, and a member for 44 years, said he saw nothing wrong with Arthur “crossing over”.
In fact, the 94-year-old argued that any move which would benefit the country was a welcome one.
“The first thing I will say is that we are all human beings and Barbadians, that is the first thing we have to recognize.
“If you watch what Owen Arthur did when he became Prime Minister, the policies he enacted were off the basis of what [DLP founding father] Errol Barrow had planned to go forward with,” Watts said.
“If Owen Arthur in his evening days, has anything left to offer beneficial to the people of Barbados I will accept it. At least I would give him a card to renew his membership and come back home to where he belonged years ago,” he added.
Watts explained that some DLP supporters might have a problem with the idea due to the fact that Arthur was a longstanding member of the BLP before resigning last year. However, he cautioned that politics and politicians were volatile in nature.
“Politics is one way in and another one out. They quarrel and they fight each other politically, but when the dust is settled, they meet each other and congratulate each other because we are all Barbadians.
“So if he accepts to be a consultant of the DLP, we won’t take the bad things, but we will take the good things and we will put them for the people of Barbados,” Watts said.
Watts also predicted that if Arthur was given the job, it would spell doom for Opposition leader Mia Mottley.
James Best, another longstanding supporter also agreed with Watts.
He said although Arthur had been a thorn in the side of the DLP for a long time, he still had a lot of respect for him.
“I respect Owen Arthur. I think he made some errors, but if he accepts as a statesman that would be good for Barbados and it would send a message to people that you are working for Barbados rather than working for a party, and that we have to get the country back on track,” Best said.
“I see nothing wrong with the DLP pulling Arthur over to do things for Barbados.”