Fiery condemnation was heaped on the head of Barbados Labour Party Leader Owen Arthur last night in St. Lucy by Democratic Labour Party minister Dr. David Estwick, who called the former Prime Minister’s leadership into question.
In a strong, almost half-hour presentation in Checker Hall, St. Lucy, on the platform of incumbent Denis Kellman, Estwick gave a terse review of some of Arthur’s “diabolical” shortcomings, as a large crowd howled and applauded.
“Not only is he the shortest and most vile Prime Minister that we have ever had, but he is one of the most dangerous Prime Ministers that we have ever had. Let me explain. He is the only Prime Minister in Barbados who is on record as going to Parliament and bringing out people’s personal files and reading them out in Parliament.
“Remember he is the only Prime Minister that has a record of not only reading those files out in Parliament, but he deliberately goes out there and attacks females. Remember what he did to Irene Sandiford-Garner, bringing out her personal medical information in the House of Assembly when she could not defend herself?”
Arthur did the same thing to Sir Phillip Greaves, Estwick charged, when the former deputy prime minister was then minister of housing.
“It is a history of even more diabolical proportions… This is the same Prime Minister that goes out there and attacks journalists… Understand what kind of Prime Minister wunna had, and wunna got a wonderful leader right now, a decent man, and honest man; a man who committed, with compassion and decency and you would go back to [Arthur]?” he asked.
Estwick also attacked Arthur’s record of attendance at Parliament, noting that for five years he hardly attended the sittings, claiming a bad back.
“Any prime minister that believes that because you have lost prime minister that you can’t come and represent the people that put you there, deserves to be sent packing,” he said as the audience erupted again.
“He is the only prime minister who fired six ministers in five years. He fired Liz Thompson, said she was cantankerous and bad behaved. He fired Cheltenham… He fired Ronald Toppin. He fired Hammie La. He fired George Payne and he fired Rommell Marshall — and wunna want to bring back that man?”
In the presentation more reminiscent of Estwick’s earlier days when he was known by the moniker “The Pitbull”, he told the crowd which cheered him on that there was no way Arthur could realistically blame the DLP for the state of Speightstown after he had been in power for 14 years and had done nothing to the little town of the north.
“I don’t know if the people of St. Peter sleeping, but I hope you have awaken to see what a dangerous and diabolical individual he is. If in 14 years with all the money you could not revitalise Speightstown, how you expect the Democratic Labour Party to do it in the middle of an economic crisis?”
He pointed to Greenland, where he said more than $100 million had been spent and nothing had become of that project, money the economy could have now used elsewhere.
“Remember the $257 million that he spent on Gems? Also remember that after he spent the money he went and sold off three properties that were owned by the Bree St. John family, and then he went so far as when he run Time Out on the Gap down in the ground, he turn round and sell that…
“And don’t forget that that man went to Parliament and said that they spent $8 million refurbishing the Hilton Hotel, then to come and blow it up two weeks after. All that is your money. This is the man that wants to come back now and tell you about leadership and accountability.”
The St. Philip man also talked about the Al Barrack case, which he said the BLP had left for the DLP to clean up after owing the contractor $24 million due to the court judgement on the case, and now which because of refusal to pay had accrued to more than $60 million. (LB)