Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson informed Bajans and the world that he is seriously ill and is leaving the country for two months to seek medical treatment. (See The Nation: PM on two months’ sick leave)
Each of us at Barbados Free Press continues to pray for the PM and his family and wishes him a speedy recovery.
There was much discussion at our regular Friday meeting about how BFP should cover the story of the PM’s illness and what it means to Barbados. There is a natural inclination to back off criticising the PM during his personal troubles and we are struggling about how to balance our concern for our country while still supporting David Thompson and his family.
Restrained BLP Opposition & Press
We are not the only ones dealing with these questions. We notice that the BLP Opposition members and the news media have been very restrained of late with any criticism of the Prime Minister or his policies.
This is a normal reaction to the situation. No matter our politics we all care for David Thompson the person and his loved ones – but does this mean that effective political debate in Barbados must stop for the next two or three months or more until the Prime Minister recovers?
Changes have already started
During his press conference on Friday, Prime Minister Thompson understandably delivered a message of reassurance that the country was in good hands with Acting Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and that his temporary absence would in no way impact the daily operations of the civil service or the government’s leadership and direction for Barbados.
But that simply isn’t 100% true and we all know it. The potential of David Thompson’s prolonged absence from the DLP leadership has already impacted the political debate and quiet backroom discussions in Barbados.
On the BLP side, Owen Arthur, Mia Mottley and others are considering what it means in the next election if David Thompson does not return to public life.
Although no one is impolite enough to say it openly (except for us, of course), potential successors within the DLP are quietly assessing their chances and consolidating support. We have ourselves heard talk and received a few insider emails that DLP strategists are discussing how to best utilize and prolong the public sympathy for David Thompson. Hartley Henry and the backroom boys hope that public sympathy for Thompson will translate into forgiveness for the DLP’s failure to implement so many promised reforms.
Let’s not kid ourselves folks. David Thompson’s message that his prolonged absence will have little or no effect on the country is untrue and unrealistic. Already the political crabs in a barrel are beginning their crawl.
This article is based upon a draft received from BFP reader “Kurt”. Editing and additional writing by Cliverton.