Just like Tom
Walcott signals a dividing line in Opposition party
Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur came in for more praise last night than the party he recently turned his back on, for honouring the legacy of late Barbados Labour Party (BLP) leader and prime minister Tom Adams.
Delivering the seventh Tom Adams Memorial Lecture on Thursday night, the party’s General Secretary Dr Jerome Walcott appeared publicly to have buried the proverbial “political hatchet” with Arthur, who recently quit the BLP on July 25, 2014, claiming that the Opposition party had lost its soul.
Therefore, instead of any vilification of Arthur, who was seated at the back of the room, Walcott held the record of the former prime minister aloft, describing the now independent parliamentarian as the closest thing to a “Tom Adams”.
Walcott, who was earlier introduced by the recently unsuccessful BLP candidate Asokore Beckles after Arthur’s former assistant Mackie Holder issued the official welcome at last night’s lecture, recalled that Arthur had pledged in a parliamentary debate immediately following Adams’ passing that “everything I shall do in public life will be to the glory and the credit of the investment he [Tom Adams] has made [in me]”.
“It is fair to say Arthur, in this respect, kept his word. He has so far come closest to fulfilling the promise of the Tom Adams model, and in so doing becoming the outstanding politician of his generation,” Walcott told the large gathering at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination.
At the same time – and with party leader Mia Mottley seated among the stalwarts in the front row – Walcott delivered a nasty jab at his own BLP, saying it was as guilty as any for not ensuring that Adams got the type of national recognition he deserves.
“It is a blight on our politics and democracy – and the greatest absurdity in our history – that the work and worth of Tom Adams has been lost to the murky machinations of political forces,” he said in his 45–minute presentation.
“Let us not make any bones about it. There is enough blame to go around,” he added.
Walcott, who is also an Opposition Senator and the former BLP Member of Parliament for Christ Church South, stressed that the BLP could not be absolved from the failure to recognize the contribution of Adams, who served as Barbados’ second Prime Minister from September 8, 1976 until his death on March 11, 1985.
At the time, his death came as a major blow for the BLP, which lost the reins of Government a year later.
It would therefore be another ten years before the party could successfully reclaim the Government. However, Walcott is peeved that in the 14 years that followed, from 1994 to 2008, the then governing BLP administration did not see it fit to commit a lasting monument to his memory.
“It is the most singular discredit to our matchless legacy that we have allowed this dismissal of such a superior intellect, and non–attribution of his accomplishments to take root,” said Walcott, calling it a “travesty” that must be reversed.
“Tom Adams must be accorded his rightful and magnificent place in our history,” he maintained.
Taking a separate jab at the current Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government, Walcott said, “Barbados requires this application of intellect of the Tom Adams model rather than what has been our lot for the last seven or so years. Intelligence without ambition is wasted.”
The General Secretary described Adams as the man who, “had a comprehensive blueprint for the development of Barbados and Barbadians”.
He continued, “Every component of Barbados was transformed by the vision of Tom Adams. Indeed, the revolution was so complete that today almost every aspect of life that we enjoy is due to the realization of Tom Adams’ vision. It is summed up in the BLP’s motto, A Better Life for Our People.”