In a move few would deem a surprise, 11 Barbadian MPs including seven senior cabinet ministers are considering an internal rebellion against Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, saying his boring, unimaginative and lackluster leadership style could make the governing Democratic Labor Party (DLP) lose the government next year.
Local newspapers and opinion writers have been giving their take on it, presumably because a poll taken by the CADES Group, led by University of the West Indies academic Peter Wickham, has indicated that should the elections be held today, Owen Arthur’s Barbados Labor Party which ran the country from 1994 until it lost the election the last elections would win hands down.
The data has sent shock waves within the bowels of the DLP which earlier in the past year watched as senior members of the BLP performed their own palace coup by dethroning party leader and former deputy prime minister Mia Mottley in favor of Arthur, a respected economist who once sported dreadlocks and who is respected across the region for his work to implement the Caribbean single market and economy.
Back then, there was similar panic in the ranks of the BLP as Mottley’s brash leadership style and island-wide rumors about her lifestyle proclivities were seen as impediments to the BLP’s return to the helm of one of the Caribbean’s most prosperous and well-organized nations.
Now, it is Stuart’s turn to face the heat as efforts are under way to get the required 16 members of parliament to approach the island’s government to force Stuart to step down as head of cabinet and prime minister.
Not known for his personal or political dynamism, Stuart became head of government when David Thompson died of pancreatic cancer 14 months ago. Even back then, many in cabinet and political watchers had been quietly urging Thompson to hand over governance to finance minister Chris Sinckler who is more well-liked, vibrant, younger and thought to have more of the common touch than Stuart; but Thompson had settled for Stuart.
Local media also report that the data showed Sinckler to be far more popular than Stuart and that he could be the person to turn around the DLP’s fortunes if the changes are made today.
On Monday, the best-selling Nation Newspaper quoted St. Lucy-based legislator Denis Kellman as saying that he would not be one of those seeking to upset the political apple cart at the moment; that the timing is bad and that the situation could be worsened if the move succeeds.
“I have no intentions of committing political suicide,” Kellman said, suggesting that Stuart is not as unpopular as he is being made out to be.
Party elders like former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Philip Greaves have given credence to the reports by publicly offering to help heal the divisions within the party of independence leader Errol Barrow. Others say that to act now would give a national signal of panic in the ranks as election year approaches.