During the course of the week while listening to a call-in radio program, a caller’s discourse reminded us of the early 90’s when Prime Minister Owen Arthur who was a struggling Leader of the Opposition at the time; threatened to resign. It is amazing how fate intervened to result in the elevation of Arthur to the highest post in the land. Arthur who we believe professes to be a religious man must deliver prayers on a frequent basis to the almighty for the blessing he has seen fit to bestow on the short man.
It makes for interesting observation that to this day we have not heard a forgiving Barbados public question Arthur’s commitment to politics. Maybe it explains his unreserved acceptance of Clyde Mascoll to the Barbados Labour Party fold_leader of the Opposition one day, Junior Minister in the Prime Minister’s office the next.
As the caller rightly pointed out; the then leader articulated, in one of the most passionate deliveries seen in the august chamber of parliament, that on his opposition salary he was indeed struggling to “make ends meet”. It is noteworthy that his wife at the time was a qualified nurse who we assume would have been supplementing the income in the Arthur household at the time. We believe that Arthur was able to attract other income by lecturing at the University of the West Indies. BU believe that the Arthur household would have been classified as middle income at that time and with prudent financial management of the household the budget of the Arthurs’ should have been able to “eek -out” a decent existence. Wasn’t he a trained Economist! It would be enlightening if Arthur for the sake of clarity could define what he considered to be a decent salary back then so that we could map-it to the current scenarios.
During his passionate delivery many people were driven almost to tears.
We have painted this detail picture to convince ourselves and others that Arthur, more than most, must be able to identify with the hardship which the high cost of living is having on many Barbadians today. Arthur’s popularity through the years has been his ability to stay glued to the concerns of the masses. Many commentators have written of late that Arthur, apparently suffering from third term lethargy, is rapidly losing touch with the people. It is only a fragmented Opposition, much improved we must admit in recent months, which has fanned his popularity.
BU tried very hard to get a copy of that speech to publish. We believe that if it were to be published today it would provide for interesting debate in the current climate. If any BU reader is able to deliver this speech we would be grateful. Did he also mention in his now famous speech that the sum financial commitments he had at the time was his mortgage and some other miscellaneous bills? We don’t recall him mentioning that he had a child to support. In light of recent revelations it would have meant that he had a daughter who was approximately 10 years old at the time. Perhaps that is where the problem resided.