“Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends [country]” (John 15:13) – Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC
The unprecedented 30-0 victory by the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) at the polls on 24 May 2018 created a Constitutional crisis UNTIL St. Michael West M.P. solved the problem by agreeing to be Leader of the Opposition.
Events to date confirm that the decimation of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) caught even the BLP leadership by surprise- tinkering with the Constitution – always a messy business – with a basket of pressing issues to confront from Day 1 is not what Prime Minister Mia Mottley has the appetite for at this time.
In the short term Atherley has made the sacrifice to cross the floor to assume the Leader of the Opposition role. His monthly salary will jump from 60K to 129K per annum but this is the smaller issue. He has averted the need for Mia to tangle with the issue of making deep amendments to the Constitution of Barbados at an early stage in her administration. Ask yourself, which member of parliament crosses the floor after one week of being elected without first declaring his grievances to his constituents and the wider public as a matter of courtesy?
Atherley’s decision to assume the Opposition role is obviously strategic. A ‘sympathetic’ leader of the Opposition in the House of Assembly opens up a pathway for Prime Minister Mia Mottley to attack governance issues, more importantly it removes the nettlesome issue of making significant amendments to the Constitution at an early period in her tenure.
The blogmaster is pleased that the citizens of Barbados have a front row seat to observe the fragility of the democracy we practice exposed. It should be a learning opportunity we grasp with both hands. A past US President Thomas Jefferson is credited with saying that “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom”. Now more than ever in our history if the democracy we practice is to work as envisaged by the framers of the Constitution, people and stakeholder participation will be critical. The level of apathy and disaffection by citizens is well documented on BU’s pages.
We need to participate in our government in ways we have not done up to now. We hope Bishop Joseph will live up to the biblical meaning of his name.