The Nation Newspaper of Monday, February 28th 2011, reported Opposition Leader Owen Arthur as having challenged Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to call election. Arthur was at the time speaking at the Christ Church West Central Nomination, which was held at Deighton Griffith Secondary, yesterday. But when Prime Minister Stuart read the Nation this morning, he probably might not have been able to contain himself, even by his reserved nature.
Those who have been monitoring the BLP since Arthur and a group of five, wrestled power from then Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, know that this is a bluff; merely tough-talk to motivate the troops and keep their spirit high, especially after Arthur ran a disastrous campaign and suffered an extremely humiliating defeat, a month ago, in the St. John By-election at the hands of the same Stuart (now making it two defeats for Arthur, in three years)
More interestingly though, is that fact that according to the official statistics from the Electoral and Boundaries Commission, in the 2003 General Election, Joseph Edghill polled 2361 votes and in the 2008 General Election, he polled 2097, even with a major swing against the BLP. The question is: how is it that Edghill could consistently get over 2000 people in a Constituency to votes for him, but in an internal BLP election, he could not even get a single party faithful to nominate him? In some countries, this would (more than likely) be the subject of an inquiry. This is very curious indeed and it would seem to be where Mr. Arthur’s focus really ought to be.
Mr. Arthur’s tough talk only reminds Barbadians how in December 2007, then Opposition Leader David Thompson told then Prime Minister Arthur, words to this effect: ‘and furthermore, I ain’t wasting no more time in here, this Parliament is irrelevant, call elections. Taking up his files and looking at the men on his side he said, if wunnah want to stay in there that is a matter for you ‘all’ and every man walked out. Three weeks after Thompson went back into the same House as Prime Minister of Barbados.
Clearly now, Mr. Arthur seems to be calling a bluff. Is the BLP ready? Does it have campaign financing in place; a Manifesto and other election material/s, as the DLP was said to have had in 2007, when it literally instructed Owen Arthur to call election and even determined the election date? Very few would not understand why it is in Mr. Arthur’s interest to have an early election. The more time passes, the more difficult it will be for him to keep his apparent arrangement with George Payne and others in place and the longer Mr. Stuart waits, the harder Arthur will have to work as Opposition Leader. Judging from what even some of his members are saying, he simply does not have the energy for a long trek in Opposition. Day-after-day, the BLP keeps shooting itself in the foot.
There is also the danger for Arthur that the economy will come out of recession and therein lays his greatest fear. That has implications for his relevance. His ‘second coming’ was to fix the economy and by extension, give him bragging right that the country needed him. Having also alleged that there is a ‘clamour’ for him, he cannot now be heard to be saying other than: “bring it on.” But Arthur’s biggest problem is the female vote. He seems to have created a mess within the BLP he cannot fix, which is even less complicated than getting the economy back on track.