When justice and fair play become steeped in politics
“This party will only endure if we remain faithful to the principles of justice and fair play and transparency. There are some who may call me idealistic. But principles and ethics have been my compass all my life. They may lead to decisions that are not convenient or popular but I know no other way. I have always faced challenges head on, respected the rights of others and put Barbados first – mindful that my first and ultimate purpose is to faithfully serve the people of my constituency and the people of this country,” – Mia Mottley, immediately following her ouster from the position of Opposition Leader in 2010.
If anyone should be able to sympathize, at the very least politically, with Christ Church West MP Dr Maria Agard following her expulsion yesterday from the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), it would have to be her immediate former boss — Mia Mottley.
Five years ago, Mottley was the one looking down the barrel of a similar BLP gun, as five of her parliamentary colleagues circled Roebuck Street like hungry vampires, eager for a taste of the Queen Bee’s blood.
Back then, Mottley was summoned by her parliamentary colleagues to a meeting in much the same way that Dr Agard was summoned to appear before a ‘BLP disciplinary panel’ yesterday evening to defend her stewardship.
However, Mottley would choose not to attend, arguing that while it was the right of her parliamentary colleagues to request a meeting and to determine who should be leader, “in my almost 22 years in the BLP, I do not know of anyone other than the party leader convening a meeting of the parliamentary party”.
In the end, her protestations would amount to nothing more than a delaying tactic, and her blood, just like Dr Agard’s, would be spilled without ceremony.
In Mottley’s case, word of her demise would come in the form of an official letter from the Governor General informing her that her appointment as Leader of the Opposition had been revoked at the request of five of her parliamentary colleagues.
By then there was nothing that Mottley could do, but complain bitterly about an absence of justice.
“The BLP like all other political parties has known what it is to resolve conflict between its members,” said Mottley in response to her October 18, 2010 ouster.
“It has its own way of dealing with these matters and I shall not deviate from this tradition of over 72 years. To have a letter already signed by five persons since one week ago and seen by persons on both sides of the political divide is to charge me, convict me and sentence me and then try to tell the public you are being fair and civil by inviting me to the trial,” she added.
As she licked her wounds, Mottley also took comfort in her belief that “every Barbadian understands and many have expressed their shock and disapproval at the manner in which this matter has been handled.
“I therefore had to consider whether I could validate a process, which was inherently unfair. I can defend myself – but ultimately it is not about me. I had to consider what message I would be sending to every worker who has ever been dismissed without a chance to defend themselves. I had to consider what message I would be sending to every Bajan who has ever been wronged or wrongfully accused and never had the chance to defend themselves before it was made public. It is not right. And our young people must never believe that this is the way to behave and to resolve issues,” she said.
Ironically, the same process of “expulsion” which Mottley so harshly condemned back then, is the same weapon that she and other members of the BLP National Council have evidently used to rid themselves and the party of the presence of Dr Agard. Indeed, the same horrible aftertaste has been left in the mouths of all right-thinking Barbadians who would have witnessed the rights of yet another elected official trampled from within, and by needy aspirants who only get their relevance out of the holding of elections.
Which leaves us to ask, does morality and the notion of politics descending into a blood sport only come into play when the dagger is being swung by an all-male cast of politicians? And what ever happened to right of process? Also, as a country, is this the type of leadership we have to look forward to from Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition?
In fact, some would even say that Dr Agard’s expulsion was more henchman-like than Mottley’s given there were very few “honourable members” around for Sunday’s lynching.
We wait to see whether the decision of the National Council will be allowed to stand and indeed whether it can withstand the unbiased scrutiny of any other court in this land.
We are equally intrigued to see if with Dr Agard’s removal, the BLP, under the leadership of Miss Mottley, can finally find settlement, especially given the fact that the same Messieurs Arthur, Payne, Clarke, Toppin and Marshall are still lurking in the corridors of political influence.
And lest Ms Mottley and her BLP cohorts may choose to forget, it was only a few weeks ago that St Andrew MP George Payne, sought to warn Mottley that there could be repercussions if she takes any further, her “veiled threat” issued against Dr Agard.
We will continue to monitor developments in the Opposition arena where the Dr Maria Agard battle may be over, but the war seemingly has only just begun.