I have invited Barbadians here tonight to emphasize my worry and disgust at the direction in which our country is headed. The Barbados Labour Party has given us every reason to vote them out of office and, after tonight, it would be preposterous for this country to say that notwithstanding the myriad reasons and the mounting evidence of corruption, squander mania and mal-administration, that it is still “moving with Owen.”
I wish first to address the lame excuse of those who say “I agree we need change, but the Dems ain’t ready yet”. What are you looking for? What are you waiting for?
We must stop the contradiction and the intellectual dishonesty in this country. The DLP is today far more prepared, equipped and ready to assume the reins of government than was the Barbados Labour Party of 1976 and more so of 2003.In 1976, the BLP did not even have a leader. There was still infighting over whether Bree had been un-faired, whether Henry Forde was the natural leader of the Under Forty’s Group or whether Tom Adams, the son of Grantley Adams, was deserving of this mantle. In 1976 Tom Adams said he wanted a larger Opposition and you went out and gave him the government.The DLP administration of that day did not lie, cheat or steal but you said it was time for them to go and you voted in an untried and unproven BLP.
In 1994, I would be the first to admit that the DLP gave the voters of Barbados good reason to vote them out of office, but you, the electorate, never batted an eyelid. You voted into office a party made up of a drunken captain and a band of unknown, inexperienced and incompetent sailors. In 1994 Owen Arthur had never sat in a Cabinet before…but you made him Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of this country.
Half of his Cabinet had never even sat in the Parliament of Barbados before. But you voted them into office, because you recognized and determined the need for change.
You did not put the BLP under the microscope then, but some armchair critics in Barbados are persisting with this BLP nonsense of the DLP not ready to govern.
There is no party in Barbados more divided than the Barbados Labour Party. It is not in George Street that leaders are being body slammed and police are being called in to part fights. I did not name any ‘just-come’ member my Co-leader. Nobody on this side has made clear that they will not serve in my Cabinet if I do not name them sole Deputy Prime Minister.
The fighting is going on over there…but there are those who wish to persist with this nonsense of the Democratic Labour Party not being ready to govern.
Let us examine for a moment the team and the state of readiness of the DLP. Our team was selected, ratified and presented to the people of this country over 15 months ago. The credentials of our members are second to none that was presented by any party for the past 25 years.
I am a Parliamentarian of some 20 years standing with more than 4 years of Cabinet experience, including serving between 1992 and 1994 as Minister of Finance. Owen Arthur was nowhere near as qualified to lead Barbados in 1994.
This DLP team of 2008 comprises personal and professional successes. There is not a single member of this team of candidates that has not made a success of his or her life or chosen career path. None is tonight in the job market. None is seeking to enter politics as a way of guaranteeing his or herself a decent salary. In 1993 Owen Arthur cried on national television that he could not get a job and he could not make ends meet. He said he could not live in Barbados, because he was less than a man in his own house.
Tonight, many rate Owen Arthur among the 10 top wealthiest men in Barbados…and certainly, the wealthiest leader in the Caribbean.
I allude to his wealth, because we are in the middle of a general election campaign and Owen Arthur appear to like general election campaigns. He has the temerity tonight to be engaging the Democratic Labour Party on the issue of campaign financing. When you look across this country you can see and sense that the Democratic Labour Party is running a high impact, visual campaign.
We have been able to attract certain funds and we have put those funds to good use. People who have given me money can see clearly what I have done with that money.
I use this opportunity once again to reiterate that this Democratic Labour Party has not received a single cent in funding from either China or Taiwan. Furthermore, we have not discussed the issue of diplomatic relations with China, Taiwan or any country…for that matter. I hope that his puts an end to this nonsensical issue once and for all.
But the same cannot be said of the Barbados Labour Party in this election and certainly not in the last general election. There are candidates of the BLP who are crying out for lack of funding. Some say they cannot even afford a public address system to advertise meetings. Yet, I am aware that the BLP has collected significantly more money than has the DLP. Most of the persons who have contributed to our campaign have made clear that they have also contributed to the campaign of the BLP…but looking around Barbados and on their campaign in particular, you cannot see or imagine where that money has gone.
I know where the contributions of 2003 went! I even know how those contributions were masterminded.