The Role Of George Payne As Kingmaker
The decision by the parliamentary group of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to oust Mia Mottley as leader of the opposition has caused some to question the role of the Member of Parliament (MP) for St. Andrew George Payne. For about six years George Payne warmed the backbench of the House of Assembly of Barbados and did not ‘unpick’ his teeth. By doing so BU has always held the view he disrespected the August Chamber and by extension the people of Barbados. The fact he was able to defeat his DLP opponent Irene Sandiford-Garner in the last general election should raise other questions about the sophistication of the electorate and more particularly how Payne has been able to foster ironclad support in the Orange Hill ‘box’. BU is on record agreeing with the decision to fire then Minister of Tourism George Payne by former Prime Minister Owen Arthur. The extreme reaction by Payne to his firing which drove him to be silence for so many years should make political independents question his behaviour. If he were an employee in a company, how would his manager appraise his performance?
Q. Why does a citizen of Barbados aspire to represent fellow citizens by seeking their support to be elected to the House of Assembly?
A. When Parliament is sitting (meeting), MPs generally spend their time working … This can include raising issues affecting their constituents, attending debates and voting on new laws. Most MPs are also members of committees, which look at issues in detail, from government policy and new laws, to wider topics like human rights – Parliament UK
Is it reasonable to conclude that by not speaking in parliament for six years it can be concluded that George Payne failed to fully represent the people of St. Andrew? How then can one explain Payne’s re-election in the face of a national swing in the most recent general election? Perhaps some day our political scientists and others better versed than BU in political behaviour will be able to explain how a dumb MP in parliament could still win his seat albeit with a narrow margin.
There will be other opportunities to discuss George Payne politics in the context of the last general election. The immediate interest is the role George Payne played in brokering the deal which has seen the return of Owen Arthur as leader of the opposition. While it is said politics makes for strange bed fellows, Payne’s emergence in recent times as a Kingmaker in the usurpation of Mia Mottley bears careful study. In the same way Mascoll was overthrown for the more popular Thompson by Jones, Lashley, Sealy et al, the BLP parliamentary group has the same right to crown the leader of its choice. Sometimes forgotten is the right of the electorate to critique the internal workings of the two political parties. Decisions taken by the respective political parties will always have implications for wider society. Against the foregoing there is legitimacy in curiosity by Barbadians to question the role of the man of many hats.
Keen and even not so keen follows of the local political scene would have observed the building of bridges between Arthur and Payne long before the overthrow of Mia Mottley occurred. It was never hidden by the two actors. It could have been a deliberate ploy to intimidate Mottley. If such was clear to bystanders it is difficult to explain why Mottley and supporters should plead ignorance to the challenge to her leadership which inevitably came.
To the central point – why has Arthur returned at this time? Why has George Payne buried the hatchet and pledged his unswerving loyalty to Arthur at this time?
While it will always be about power and politics and several theories abound, the question remains – what is in it for Payne? What would have caused Payne to adsorb the public humiliation of pledging support to Arthur at this time after being silent for years in the former Arthur administration? He never once demonstrated public disaffection under Mottley’s leadership that we are aware of to signal he had a problem with her leadership. Is it a move flavoured with chauvinism? Is it a genuine belief by Payne and cohorts that Arthur is more competent to lead the party to victory in 2013? Is it the about questioning of Mottley on the basis of morality? Has a deal been agreed to between Arthur and Payne?
The time has come for Barbadians to be more inquiring of political decisions which smell rotten. To question is not to condemn. To continue to ignore the smell maybe at our peril. Whither the Fourth Estate?