Two political scientists have expressed support for the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP)’s plan to table a vote of no confidence in the Freundel Stuart administration, while stating that the Prime Minister’s response had come as no surprise.
“You would expect that the Government would wish to dismiss it and we saw what happen on one occasion where they simply did not respond, but that is something that you would have to take the risk of if you are in Opposition. So, the dismissal by the Government is not anything to be unexpected,” said former Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus Dr George Belle, who believes the reasons given last week by Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley for filing the motion were valid.
“She has said that it’s to expose the weaknesses of the Government and to force a debate or force discourse and discussion on the exposed weaknesses and that is quite a legitimate method in Parliament to use. So, on those grounds I feel that there is nothing wrong with the calling of the no confidence vote,” Dr Belle said.
“The whole of Barbados is complaining about water woes, complaining about not getting back their income tax, they are complaining about free education being taken away from them, they have been complaining for almost eight years and it has gotten intensely worse.
“They are criticizing the Government when they say that they are going to do certain things and don’t deliver; they are worried about the fact that the Government laid off 3,000 people . . . and that there have been 11 downgrades. Is that [reason enough] to say whether there is anything to expose?” Belle asked.
While lamenting the fact that the BLP did not have a parliamentary majority, Dr Belle said the method used to highlight the challenges facing the country was effective, though he acknowledged that the no confidence motion might come up against a brick wall. However, he explained there was no right time for such a vote, saying it all depended on whether the Opposition believed it had a case against the governing party.
Nonetheless, Dr Belle said the ultimate decision would be based on “the commonsense” of Barbadians since “it is only in exceptional cases, as had happened with [former Prime Minister Erskine] Sandiford, that a no confidence vote is going to bring down a Government”.
Addressing the monthly meeting of his St Michael South branch at the Bay Primary School on Sunday night, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said he was not unnerved by “all of the noise” about the no confidence motion.
“This is the third no confidence motion that is being brought by the Leader of the Opposition since the DLP came into office. The first was brought against the late David Thompson, one was brought against Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and this is the third one now,” he said, while charging that the motion had more to do with Mottley’s fear of the outcome of the BLP’s internal elections for a new executive of the party in October than with his Government’s performance.
In response, Belle said the Prime Minister’s theory would have to be proven.
“If that is the truth so then he would have made a point,” Belle added.
However, his former UWI colleague Peter Wickham has questioned Stuart’s reasoning on the matter.
“It’s what you call a non-sequitur,” Wickham told Barbados TODAY, arguing that “fundamentally the vote of a no confidence is about issues that have been put on the table in relation to his Government’s management of the affairs of the State. Whether or not Ms Mottley can or cannot be elected as chairman of the Barbados Labour Party has noting to do with that, because whether or not the matter is successful she still cannot be elected,” he said.
Wickham, who is also a regional pollster, also said he was anxious to have the no confidence motion debated in Parliament because answers were needed on a number of social and economic issues that have been put on the table.
“I think that it is time for us to hear something different . . . . We are interested to know what is the solution as opposed to a constant reiteration that the Opposition is going wrong,” he told Barbados TODAY, while suggesting that the Prime Minister’s reaction was consistent with his general attitude to such matters. (FW)