BLP rift embarrassing, says stalwart

As the public standoff within the Opposition Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) Christ Church West branch appears to be worsening, some executives of the branch are calling for the current BLP representative, Dr Maria Agard, to leave the party.

Dr Maria Agard
Dr Maria Agard

However, asked today whether he believed Agard was likely to cross the floor and join the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) or take up position next to former Prime Minister Owen Arthur on the independent benches, former BLP general secretary George Griffith said such a decision was “Agard’s, and hers alone”.

“She would have to determine, based on all the facts, whether she would wish to remain in the party. However, I think that the leadership has a duty to the party, its members and to Agard as well, to ensure that fairness is obtained and that the matter is approached even-handedly,” Griffith added.

His comments come against the backdrop of a bitter internal tussle that has seen the election of a new executive for the BLP’s Christ Church West branch in the absence of the parliamentary representative and following an aborted annual general meeting on September 20 that has best been described as “heated”.

Ever since then, Dr Agard has been refusing to work with the newly elected executive while pressing ahead with her job as parliamentary representative.

Agard, who has been criticised for working with the DLP Government on a football tournament for her constituency, was a no-show at last month’s BLP annual conference at the Christ Church Foundation School.

She also failed to show up at last week’s National Council meeting, which was convened by party leader Mia Mottley to address the current standoff.

This, after Mottley told party delegates at the BLP’s 77th annual conference on October 24 that the controversy would not be allowed to drag on and would be resolved soon.

“I give you the assurance that the matter of Christ Church West will be resolved well in advance before the next general elections, and it will be in the best interest of the Barbados Labour Party,” Mottley said then.

She also warned: “If healing does not happen, there are mechanisms and conventions within this party that provide for dealing with such scenarios,” while insisting at the time that there was no crisis within the BLP.

However, Mottley was also a no-show for a meeting this week with Agard to deal with the conflict. Wednesday’s meeting of the BLP’s National Council had to be cancelled after Mottley sent a letter to Agard indicating that she (Mottley) was unable to attend the talks at party headquarters at which MPs George Payne and Ronald Toppin were expected to accompany Agard.

Party stalwarts Sir Richard Cheltenham and Vic Johnson, a former Tom Adams-era Cabinet minister, were also due to participate as mediators in the 5 p.m. meeting, which highlighted a split in internal support for the two sides in the dispute.

Griffith said today the situation was becoming “increasingly embarrassing” and was “a sad reflection” on the party which he said had “an outstanding tradition of settling all issues, big and small, in a very dignified manner.

“I believe that time is of the essence and the longer the impasse drags on, the worse it is for all concerned,” he warned.

The former Government Senator further expressed concern about the length of time it was taking the party to have the matter resolved amicably, saying the situation called for decisive leadership.

“I think that some people are too hasty on the matter. Political leader, Mia Mottley, should put the matter in the hands of highly respected members of the party who have the capacity to settle such matters, so that whatever recommendations are made would be respected.”

Griffith, who served as BLP general secretary from 2010 to 2012, further pointed out that the party’s constitution makes provision for the handling of such impasses.

“If the constituency branch is of the view that the executive is not representing its will, then the branch can do something about it. Provision is made in the constitution and in the branch rules for the calling of an extraordinary general meeting at which specific issues can be addressed. I believe we should not give up on the process.”

At the same time, he is warning that any internal investigation must be “even-handed” and led by persons who enjoy the “utmost confidence” of Agard, the executive of the Christ Church West branch and the wider party.

“Ultimately, there needs to be respect on all sides and the interests of the party must be put before any personal interests,” he stressed.

Griffith, who at an earlier period of his career was a BLP candidate for St Philip North on three occasions, also suggested that the process must be transparent and that neither side in the current dispute over representation of the southern riding should feel disadvantaged.

Meanwhile, reacting to reports that former Prime Minister Owen Arthur has been identified to replace former university lecturer in economics Sir Frank Alleyne as Chairman of the Government’s Council of Economic Advisors, Griffith said: “I believe Barbados would owe him a debt of gratitude if he puts all of the old political differences aside and accepts the post.

“To me, it is like asking any other Barbadian to make a contribution to the country. Ultimately, the decision is his, but I would think that as a patriotic Barbadian he would accept it. Whatever his decision we should respect it as I respect him.” 

8 Responses to BLP rift embarrassing, says stalwart

  1. carson c cadogan November 7, 2015 at 8:55 am

    Well said, George!!

  2. cassava November 7, 2015 at 9:48 am

    The former leader of the BLP and then MP, as well as the then General Secretary had the opportunity to deal with this issue. This was soon after her nomination and they did nothing. All the members of the Executive and the branch want is for the M.P. to do her work as she was elected to do, “to serve the people of Christ Church West” stewardship without work is null and void. Had she listened to the voices of those persons back then, she would not be in the position today. The time has come for you and your supports to stop blaming the members of the executive.

    By the way wasn’t your mother a member of the three (3) executives that resigned?

  3. Charles Worrell November 7, 2015 at 10:26 am

    THE ignorance is growing. There is a sitting member in the constituency and deference should be automatic here. fact is, WHEN YOU HAVE HATCHED OTHER PLANS that CROSSES THAT RPOCESS, YOU GET THIS NONSENSE.
    NOTHNG should be undertaken in a constituency that has a representative WITHOUT THAT REPS KNOWLEDGE. WHEN you disrespect that person, you open up this kind of stink.
    To regain that normalcy, you have to back-peddle, apologize and put things in place to assure that such occurrences will never happen again. IF you cant convene this solution, you get this kind of disruption.

    WHATEVER THE ISSUE, no EXEC SHOULD have been appointed without the Reps knowledge and presence. You do this and then ask that they work together, how silly a position. Ms. Mottley is know for many things BUT GOOD leadership IS NOT one of them. HERS comes for the hip down and no leader can be that short. She too, should be removed from the leadership of the Party. She is not an asset but a worsening liability.

    IT IS TIME TO GET MIS MOTTLEY OUT OF THE LEADERSHIP OF THE PARTY! IN the meantime, she needs to learn to treat others with respect. hang in there Dr.

  4. Dickory Doc November 7, 2015 at 11:45 am

    First mistake was putting a lightweight (not in poundage) like Dr. Duguid in one of the safest seats for the BLP in Parliamnet. Then mistake #2 following it up with an even lighter weight, Dr. Agard.

  5. Bajan boy November 7, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    Charles Worrell who ever you are you are dumb as they come,,don’t know you bother to comment on anything. Maria can join her advisor and friend and both can join DEM and contest the next general election..

  6. David November 7, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    Bajan boy , you showing your party color. LOL

  7. Don Morris November 7, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    This is a lousy situation, not needed at a time when Barbados has sunk to the lowest in terms of handling of the economy, good governance, and criminal activity. It is sad because I think the majority of the people are looking to the Barbados Labour Party to do what is has done over the years — pull Barbados back from the brink of disaster that has been foisted on us each time the DEMS held the office of government. My problem with the whole situation though is that we the members of the general public haven’t got a clue what Dr. Maria Agard has done that persons would want to oust her — which to my mind is madness: how does one justify getting rid of a sitting elected member of parliament? Seems like nonsense to me but I not a politician. So until John Public be told what exactly are Dr. Agard’s sins, I cannot comment; I don’t know what she has done. There’s mention about her cooperating with the “government” in the sponsorship of a football match in her constituency but SURELY THAT CAN’T BE IT! Could it? If it is it would be the most stupid-ass reason. But as I said no more comment on this matter cause I and the majority of us have not be told “wuh” Dr. Agard “do”.

    But I crave your indulgence cause I really want to comment on Owen Arthur being asked to head the government’s economic council: George Griffith mentioned it in his comment on the Maria Agard affair and like some other commentators, thinks Owen should do it “for the good of the country!” That sounds real nice and patriotic BUT it is UTTER RUBBISH! Here’s why I think so: Every single speaker of the Democratic Labour Party’s 2008 and 2013 election campaigns went the length and breadth of Barbados telling us that it was Owen Arthur who put Barbados in economic jeopardy and ever since those elections every chance all DLP commentators got, whether they were MP’s, Senators, speaking in Parliament or at events, or just members and supporters, on the radio call-in programmes, they told Barbadians that the country is in this rut because of all the borrowing that Owen and the Barbados Labour Party did. But having spread the propaganda and won the elections, they’ve been at a loss as to what to do and now things are so bad and they still haven’t got a clue Owen is to do “the patriotic thing,” for “the good of Barbados” and show the DLP how to run a country? To hell with that! How is it that prior to the 2008 election David Thompson said something to the effect that Owen Arthur had lost his shelf life and now almost 8 years after they want the same Owen Arthur to help them out? No! No! No! They are the ones who got us in this shit they are the ones to pull out out AND THE ONLY WAY THEY CAN DO THAT IS TO CALL AN ELECTION — let’s be honest!

    But as George Griffith said it’s up to Owen and I agree with him on that point. However I can’t say like George Griffith that Owen would still have my respect cause he won’t. And they are many other Bajans at home and abroad that I talk to who feel the same; in fact I would go so far as to say that for Owen to accept that post and serve the Democratic Labour Party — cause that’s who he would be serving, NOT the people of Barbados — would be disrespect for, and an insult to, the people of St. Peter!

  8. country boy November 8, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    I haven’t heard Mr.Payne mouth in a long time , it seems as thought he only speaks when he have something negative or to oppose the Leader of the Party , this is a time when we should be pulling together and solving this problem and working hard to be victorious at the next general election and bringing Barbados back to where it was and making the bajan people happy again.


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