Last word

Former Prime Minister says this will be his final House sitting

The man who served as Prime Minister of Barbados longer than anyone else has announced that the current sitting of Parliament will be his last.

Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur, who led Barbados through economic prosperity from 1994 to 2008, today said this was the end of his parliamentary road after 35 years as a legislator.

“Today I will be making my last speech ever . . . . I am retiring,” Arthur told Barbados TODAY as he prepared to climb the steep steps of Parliament this morning to participate in the debate on the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure 2018-2019.

Arthur, who in July 2014 had resigned from the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) for the second time after losing his second straight election – he had stood down in 2008 following the party’s defeat at the general election that year only to return in October 2010 – had previously given notice of his intention to call it a day.

When he announced his resignation from the BLP in July 2014, accusing the party under Mia Mottley of losing its soul, he had also indicated that he would remain in Parliament as an independent until the end his term this year.

However, there were doubts among political circles that he would actually quit, with many speculating he would join the fledgling United Progressive Party, one of the country’s new political parties of which many of its members are BLP rejects accused of being anti-Mottley.

His confirmation today that this would be his last parliamentary sitting was described by veteran political scientist and pollster Peter Wickham as “strange” and “puzzling”.

Wickham told Barbados TODAY he had anticipated that Arthur would have seen out his final term and not step down so close to the end.

“He already indicated that he is going as of the end of this term, so why not wait for the end? It’s strange from a person who has already announced his retirement. It’s like you have announced your retirement and you are doing it all over again,” Wickham said.

“It’s like when David Thompson indicated that he was planning to resign as leader of the opposition, it’s either you resign or you don’t. He has already said that he is not pursuing politics any further, he has resigned from the Barbados Labour Party and he is saying his political career is over. He said all of that
so now that he is not going back into Parliament is strange because of all those reasons.

“The parliamentary term has not ended. I am a bit surprised that he has chosen to retire before the term has ended. For the time being he is still considered a Member of Parliament unless his seat is declared vacant,” the head of the Caribbean Development Research Services pointed out.

“You are considered a Member of Parliament until you either resign or the parliamentary term comes to an end, and by saying that he is not attending the last sitting I don’t know, is it the last estimates?

“The point is that he is a Member of Parliament and he is entitled to go again, and that’s the reason I am surprised. I thought he would have waited for the end.”

Wickham’s argument supposes that the life of Parliament will continue past the current sitting, particularly after Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said recently that he intended to go down the wire.

However, with Stuart being entitled to announce an election date at any time, it is possible that he can ask Governor General Dame Sandra Mason to dissolve Parliament soon after the debate on the Estimates, which would make this Arthur’s last sitting.

Arthur led the BLP to power soon after he became leader in 1994 and remained at the helm until January 2008, when his party was defeated by the Democratic Labour Party under the leadership of David Thompson, who died more than two years later in October 2010.

Following his defeat Arthur stepped down as party leader, saying an immediate leadership transition would be in the best interests of both the party and Barbadian democracy.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Mia Mottley was chosen as the new BLP leader, but in 2010 after bitter infighting, Arthur was returned to the helm, from where he led the party to a second straight loss in 2013, a general election many had thought the BLP would have won.

He stepped down as party leader for the second time on February 26, 2013, before severing ties with the party in 2014.

24 Responses to Last word

  1. Alex Alleyne February 12, 2018 at 11:07 pm

    POLITICS IS A THANKLESS JOB.

    Reply
  2. David Brathwaite February 13, 2018 at 2:41 am

    Most Barbadians will remember and thank Mr. Owen Arthur for 14 glorious years of economic growth and stability under his stewardship, unfortunately book-ended by two perilous periods of Democratic Labour Party rule.

    His politics was not always of the finest quality: He had a sharp tongue and some would say St. John was not treated fairly under his administration. However, overall, his legacy as a masterful economic leader and manager is unequalled.

    Here is a quote from Mr. Arthur’s last budget speech on March 14, 2007 which puts into perspective how far we had come from, but also, how far we have fallen since he was in charge.

    “. . . it was only a few years ago that there was an IMF representative stationed on the premises of Government headquarters, providing dictation to the then Minister of Finance who was content to proclaim with pride, that he knew what the IMF wanted him to do, and when.

    Happily, times have changed.

    The proposals presented to Parliament today reflect a society which is confident in its ability to manage its affairs. They reflect also the spirit of a new lease on life which comes with the celebration of our 40th Anniversary as an independent nation.

    Our National Strategic Plan captures the upbeat spirit of a confident nation which is ready to take its rightful place on the global stage. It was the source of inspiration for today’s policies.

    I commend that Plan and these policies to this Parliament, and to the present and future generations of Barbadians.”

    Barbados will continue to sorely miss his economic leadership.

    Reply
  3. Sue Donym February 13, 2018 at 3:37 am

    Come on, BT, a bit careless at paragraph 4 where you say that Mr Arthur resigned from the BLP twice. However, did you not enquire of the former PM why he was certain that this was his last trip to parliament?

    It would have been interesting to know whether Owen Arthur was sure that the session would not extend any further or whether there was nothing else to be said. In any case, it leaves the other MPs in the belief that they won’t have any parliamentary response from Mr Arthur on anything else.
    Let’s see what that yields.

    Reply
  4. harry turnover February 13, 2018 at 4:20 am

    ……… and St.John was not treated fairly under ERROL BARROW,DAVID THOMPSON and MARA THOMPSON too.
    It appears those Johnnies are a glutton for punishment.

    Reply
    • andy g February 13, 2018 at 10:38 am

      people who says that Barrow did nothing for st John, knows nothing about st john before the sixties.Under barrow ,st john had the best roads ,the newest health clinic,removed the stigma the children that were growing up in the almhouse,by acquiring a building in new castle (the new castle children home).gave the people of st john a since of pride,they no longer had to walk from the villages to the main road with their shoes in their hands.the gaps were made into roads.ST.John’s people can claim the Barbados piggy ride on the back of st.john. St john being part so the agriculture belt where people only got three day work per week,and children leaving school at thirteen and fourteen years went straight into the plantations.Barrow changes that.yes the rest of the agriculture workers in bim gain from that. When Adams became pm in eaighty six, he said st.john has everything,craigg said as long as you breath dlp you will starve.nothing was done for st ,john since then.Barrrow remained between the people,keeping them abreast of what will be done should he regain power.He died shortly after regaining power.Sandiford ,as leader refuse to do anthing for sj.john thru Thompson.every bajan knows the sandi fiasco.(sandi and sandi only)owen took over and continue to ignore st .john. Thompson won the government and died.seems like HE TOOK BARBADOS WITH HIM.So in my opion it is absolutely wrong to say barrow did nothing for st john.Thompson as leader of opposition,could not get any thing done.died too soon

      Reply
    • TOMMY A February 13, 2018 at 11:24 am

      HARRY, I guess you are young.listening to my neice talking similar to you I explain what st.john was like.she never knew gall hill playing field,nor the clinic was done under barrow.she thought bath was always government property.only the red legs( st,john people i’m speaking of) were able to get into places dacosta,cave shepherd,harrison,the goddars job wise.So by addressing the concerns of his st.john people the whole of Barbados gained. thank GOD some body had a heart to keep bath beach going.The new st,john polyclinic was a political gymic and got treated like one.when barrow died ,Richie came up with that in the byelection for Thompson.yet I cant see people voting mara again.

      Reply
  5. JT February 13, 2018 at 5:28 am

    RIP

    Reply
  6. archy perch February 13, 2018 at 5:49 am

    @harry turnover. The johnnies (beside John King), are the BLP stooges in St.Andrew; St.Joseph; St.Thomas, with at least two sitting MPs will loose this time around.

    Reply
    • hcalndre February 13, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      @archy perch; besides these achievements like the bus service, the roads, the Cahill project, the finger printing, the NSRL, the 22 downgrades, the new police act, name some other goodies that your party has done for the people that they should have 90 extra days.

      Reply
  7. Jennifer February 13, 2018 at 6:08 am

    good riddance.

    Reply
  8. Tony Webster February 13, 2018 at 6:10 am

    @David Brathwaite: many thanks for your appropriate summary and farewell to an exemplar of executive, and economic leadership par excellence.

    To Owen Seymour Arthur, I offer this totemic leader ( yes, he yet stands taller than all contemporaries even now) son of our soil, I offer my best wishes for health and happiness… and blessings from on high on you Sir, and on those whom you love and care for.

    Reply
  9. Roverp February 13, 2018 at 6:15 am

    A PM who went through two world recessions in his tenure and many did not know as he unlike this current government never used them as any excuse. He also faced rising oil prices and other crises and took them all in stride.

    Reply
  10. seagul February 13, 2018 at 8:37 am

    We must act. We must flood our schools, our social clubs, the media, every village, and indeed our correctional facilities, with the positive tales that, no race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in plowing a field as in writing a poem.
    Barbados is a wonderful country full of good people – but we have this one huge problem with a long-established culture of corruption and entitlement in politics and government service. International visitors to the Barbados Free Press are usually shocked when they learn that Barbados government officials are not prohibited from accepting gifts of any value—from land developers or companies that receive government contracts. Whoever wins the elections will still be the same old, same old..

    Reply
    • hcalndre February 13, 2018 at 2:23 pm

      seagull, that why they will to anything get elected, its the way to prosperity and riches with no questions ask.

      Reply
  11. sticks and stones February 13, 2018 at 10:08 am

    Don’t be so quick to say RIP now OSA will have a voice with which he can speak without the confines of Parliament and one can be assured he will speak with out reservation

    Reply
  12. Ralph W Talma February 13, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Thank you thou good and faithful servant of your Country. Do enjoy your well deserved retirement. You will be missed by all and you deserve the highest honour your Country has to offer.

    Reply
  13. Sam clarke February 13, 2018 at 10:41 am

    You never miss the water until the well runs dry. So Barbados, when Arthur and the BLP led, you were ungrateful for such success. Now that the well has run dry under Prime Minister Fumble, you are left to wash and wade in sewage, that fill the roads, canals, beaches and seas of Barbados.

    Thank you Prime Minister Arthur for your great work, as you enter political retirement.
    It is a pity that you cannot take a swim on the south coast in your retirement, for Prime Minister Fumble has the whole coast literally lather in filth.
    Enjoy your well deserve relaxation from the political battle field, but please continue to be a voice in this era of political cannibalism.

    Reply
  14. Committed Bajan February 13, 2018 at 10:42 am

    From the time Mr Arthur won his third term he lost his way
    And he knew because he tried for a forth term in order to reverse it
    The regrets that he has now will always stay with him
    No one is indispensable
    His last word was said a long time ago
    When he announced his departure from BLP
    I wonder who is listening

    Reply
  15. JOHN GODDARD February 13, 2018 at 10:54 am

    I did not always agree with Owen Arthur, but I have no hesitation in saying that he has made an outstanding contribution to Barbados. He should have been given Barbados’ highest honour on our 50th anniversary. Sir, please continue to give this country the benefit of your insights and experience. To those BLP supporters who now disparage him, I suggest that you remember the days when you felt he was the greatest thing since sliced bread. He is the same Owen Arthur.

    Reply
  16. Helicopter(8P) February 13, 2018 at 11:36 am

    Andy G you have described the events chronologically well. I was educated in St.John during my early teen age years and saw a lot of what you have spoken about.

    Reply
  17. Jonathan Nurse February 13, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Let us praise the Lord that Independent Senator and Former Member of Parliament for St. Peter, Owen Arthur is retiring from the House of Assembly. On November 23rd, 1984, he won the seat for St. Peter. Ten years then on September 6th, 1994, he won the general election for the Barbados Labour Party government for their first term in office from September 7th, 1994 to January 20th, 1999; then he won the general election again for the BLP government on January 20th, 1999 for their second term in office from January 22nd, 1999 to May 21st, 2003; and finally he won the general election on May 21st, 2003 for the BLP government for their third term in office from May 22nd, 2003 to January 15th, 2008. He was the fifth former Prime Minister of Barbados for 14 years.

    Reply
  18. Atman February 13, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    Farewell Mr. Unbreakable! I was pleased with your first 2 terms in office, but since then you faltered badly. However, history will remember you as one of the best PMs this country ever had.

    Reply
  19. P Gibson February 13, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    I don’t understand Barbadians anymore. Yes, the current government is atrocious. But all of the problems Barbados is dealing with now should have been addressed during those 14 years of prosperity everyone is hailing Arthur for. We should not be having the infrastructure problems we have now after those 14 years of prosperity. The fact of the matter is that only BLP supporters and contributors benefited from those 14 years of prosperity! Barbados the island didn’t. Water infrastructure, sewage infrastructure, electricity infrastructure, maint-of-way issues, all of this should have been taken care of when things were good. Instead, there was a lot of waste and unnecessary building that only enriched a certain few. We need to be honest. If we aren’t, the BLP will win election and the same thing will happen again. Barbados first! Not party, not contributors, not friend.

    Reply
  20. Greengiant February 13, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    @JOHN GODDARD: I wish to thank you for your comment. It has served me time. Simply truthful and to the point.

    Reply

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