Slurs, insults among Barbados leaders

Government Minister Denis Lowe.
Photo by George Alleyne

Barbados’ elections are due next year but the barbs thrown across the political divide could make an observer believe that the poll is next month so politicians are hurling their final besmirching or threatening remarks at opponents.

Within the past month and a half a government minister spoke of a citizen protesting the administration’s push for construction of a new hotel as ‘an enemy of the state’; another said there will be blood in the streets, and a government backbencher sought to disqualify two Opposition members of parliament from having maternal feelings because they are ‘childless,’

While citizens and politicians alike expressed alarm at the Adolph Hitler era and communist terminology of ‘enemy of the state,’ and condemned talk of blood in the streets of Barbados that prides itself in having peaceful elections, the remark that apparently gained most traction was the ‘childless’ slur thrown across the floor of parliament.

In what was seen as a reference to Barbados Labour Party leader Mia Mottley and fellow Opposition Member of Parliament, Santia Bradshaw, backbencher for the governing Democratic Labour Party and Deputy Speaker, Mara Thompson last month charged in Parliament that the BLP was currently led “by someone who does not have children,” adding, that “she who sits beside her [meaning Bradshaw] was the same thing.”

Thompson had contended that because the Opposition members had no offspring they were incapable of understanding the emotions of a mother.

This remark triggered wide condemnation and criticism in the Barbados established media and social media, but just when the fire appeared to be dying, Minister of the Environment Denis Lowe stoked the flames last Sunday as the island observed Mother’s Day Sunday when he declared, “I don’t buy into the notion of those who perhaps because they have not demonstrated in any way shape or form, the maternal instinct; because perhaps they have not had the joys of nursing and suckling a young child; perhaps because they have not experienced the joys of raising children.”

He took a further swipe at Mottley, who could become Barbados’ next prime minister if her party wins the next elections, and she retains her seat.

“I am not about to support any idea that the greatness of the nation is bounded up in any individual who does not regard the importance of motherhood, of family, and of marriage according to the biblical standard.”

Lowe also touched on the issue of same sex unions.

“There is an attempt in certain quarters to advance a legislative call for same-sex marriage, and I do not have any intention, within or without the legislator to support any such notion because I still believe in the biblical way of life,” he said, and added, “we want our boys and our girls to grow up in a society where they are not embarrassed because they live in a house where mom is a woman and dad is a man.”

But in a turn of events Minister of Commerce and Industry, Donville Inniss, DLP a member of parliament and a stalwart of Lowe’s party on Tuesday hit back at his colleague minister, indicating that the attacks had gone far enough.

“In Barbados in 2017 we must exhibit a greater level of open and private tolerance to individuals based on their perceived sexual preference,” Inniss said.

“There are far more important issues in Barbados today to address, the economy and challenges with our young people. I am not focused on people’s preferences.”

With elections constitutionally due over 10 months from now, there is time for a lot more mud-slinging among those who hope to lead Barbados in 2018 and onwards.

Government backbencher, Mara Thompson.
Photo by George Alleyne

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