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The Right Excellent
Errol Walton Barrow
Errol Barrow.jpg
1st Prime Minister of Barbados
In office
18 November 1966 – 8 September 1976
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor-General John Montague Stow
Arleigh Winston Scott
Deighton Lisle Ward
Preceded by None
Succeeded by J.M.G. (Tom) Adams
In office
Governor-General Hugh Springer
Deputy Erskine Sandiford
Preceded by Bernard St. John
Succeeded by Erskine Sandiford
Personal details
Born (1920-01-21)21 January 1920
Saint Lucy, Barbados
Died 1 June 1987(1987-06-01) (aged 67)
Political party Democratic Labour Party
Spouse(s) Carolyn Flasket Barrow
Occupation Attorney at Law

Errol Walton Barrow, PC, QC (21 January 1920 – 1 June 1987) was a Caribbean statesman and the first Prime Minister of Barbados. Born into a family of political and civic activists in the parish of Saint Lucy, he was educated at Harrison College.


Errol Barrow served in the Royal Air Force during World War II. He enlisted in the RAF on 31 December 1940 and flew some 45 operational bombing missions over the European Theatre.[1] By 1945 he had risen to the rank of Flying Officer and was appointed as personal navigator to the Commander in Chief of the British Zone of occupied Germany, Sir William Sholto Douglas.

After the war he studied Law at the Inns of Court and economics at the London School of Economics concurrently, taking degrees in 1949 and 1950 respectively. He also served during that time as Chairman of the Council of Colonial Students where his contemporaries included Forbes Burnham, Michael Manley, Pierre Trudeau, and Lee Kwan Yew[citation needed], all destined to become political leaders in their home countries.

He returned to Barbados in 1950 and was elected to the Barbados Parliament in 1951 as a member of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP). Feeling the fever of anti-colonialism he had inculcated during his student days in London, he quickly became dissatisfied by the incremental approach to change advocated by the party stalwarts. In 1955 he founded the Democratic Labour Party as a progressive alternative to the BLP. He became its leader in 1958 and the party won parliamentary elections in 1961 within his constituency of St. John. Barrow served as Premier of Barbados from 1961 until 1966 when, after leading the country to independence from Great Britain, he became Prime Minister. He served continuously in that capacity as well as stints as Minister of Finance, and Minister of Foreign Affairs for the next ten years. During this period he had lengthy affair with American musician and civil rights activist Nina Simone, who had fled to Barbados to avoid prosecution for tax resistance.[2][3][4]

During his tenure the DLP government accelerated industrial development, expanded the tourist industry to reduce the island's economic dependence on sugar, introduced National Health Insurance and Social Security, and expanded free education to all levels.

Barrow was a dedicated proponent of regional integration, spearheading the foundation of the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) in 1965. Eight years later CARIFTA evolved into the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), when Barrow, together with Forbes Burnham of Guyana, Dr. Eric Williams of Trinidad & Tobago and Michael Manley of Jamaica enacted the Treaty of Chaguaramas to bolster political and economic relations between the English-speaking Caribbean territories.

After another landslide victory in 1971, the DLP returned to the electorate in 1976 for a mandate after two years of bitter controversy over constitutional amendments put forth by the government. Barrow, who had invited public comment on the amendments verbally lashed out at those who had been critical of what he viewed as a minor procedural change in the appointment of judges. A general economic downturn which affected most countries in the hemisphere contributed to a shift in public sentiment resulting in the party's election defeat.

As an indomitable advocate of Caribbean sovereignty he fiercely opposed interference in Caribbean affairs. As opposition leader in 1983 he spoke out forcefully against the United States invasion of Grenada and he was scathing in his criticism of other Caribbean leaders who kow-towed to Washington in the hope of getting economic handouts:

"Mr. Seaga (Prime Minister of Jamaica, Edward Seaga) thinks that the solution to Jamaica's problems is to get President Reagan to play Santa Claus. I do not believe in Santa Claus."

In May 1986, after 10 years in opposition, Barrow was re-elected as Prime Minister in a landslide victory in which the DLP won 24 of 27 seats in the House of Assembly. The campaign was notable for an address he gave at a political rally some two weeks before the election which came to be known as the "Mirror Image" speech. In it, Barrow rhetorically asked Barbadians what kind of a future they saw for themselves when they looked in the mirror; contrasting a life of menial labour as an émigré in the developed world, or staying and building a strong and independent Barbados to rival other small states like Singapore.

His re-election served as a catalyst for resurgent nationalism in the region, which by and large had subordinated itself to U.S. aid policy in the early 1980s. Barrow wasted no time in distancing himself from the "mendicant mentality" of his predecessors J. M. G. Adams and Bernard St. John. In his first press conference as Prime Minister he referred to Reagan as "that cowboy in the White House". In a British interview he characterized the President of the United States as "a zombie; he's programmed, a very dangerous person".

He chastised Washington for its treatment of not only the Caribbean states, but also of Canada and the United Kingdom, which he described as Barbados' closest allies. His political opponents deemed his attacks on Reagan as "tactically stupid", but for most Barbadians his outspokenness meant that "The Skipper" was back.

A year after his re-election, Prime Minister Errol Barrow collapsed and died at his home on 1 June 1987, becoming the second sitting Prime Minister to die in office.

By an act of Parliament in 1998, Barrow was named as one of the ten National Heroes of Barbados.[5]

His sister, Dame Nita Barrow, also became a social activist, humanitarian leader and later Governor General of Barbados.


The Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, promotes the making, study and appreciation of the arts. It is "a hub for creative expression and the creative cycle: creation, production, distribution, appreciation and preservation of art".[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Second Contingent". Barbados Postal Service. Retrieved 5 July 2009. 
  2. ^ Simone & Cleary 2003, pp. 120–122
  3. ^ Simone & Cleary 2003, pp. 129–134
  4. ^ Brun-Lambert 2006, p. 231
  5. ^ Parliament of Barbados (2009). "Parliament's History". Barbadosparliament.com. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  6. ^ Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination.

External links[edit]

Parliament of Barbados
Preceded by
Member of Parliament for Saint George
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Member of Parliament for Saint John
Succeeded by
David Thompson (Barbadian politician)
Political offices
Preceded by
New position
Prime Minister of Barbados
1966 – 1976
Succeeded by
J.M.G. Adams
Preceded by
Harold Bernard St. John
Prime Minister of Barbados
1986 – 1987
Succeeded by
Erskine Sandiford

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Errol_Barrow — Please support Wikipedia.
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218 news items

Nation News

Nation News
Sun, 02 Aug 2015 21:18:36 -0700

... THE HOYOS FILE: At sea in a leaky canoe Read More. THE CRY THAT DISCIPLINE among children is not what it was like in ages past was brought vividly to life last Friday night at the Errol Barrow Centre For Creative Imagination, Cave Hill Campus.

Nation News

Nation News
Sat, 01 Aug 2015 06:07:30 -0700

What I can say is that there is hope for progress in this country - as either a society or an economy or a “collection of villages” as Errol Barrow famously called it - without the dismissal of the present administration from office. Battered on all ...
Barbados Advocate
Sat, 25 Jul 2015 17:22:30 -0700

Now, this country has been blessed with a number of visionaries and intellectual giants, such as their excellencies Grantley Adams, Errol Barrow and Frank Walcott, as well as Tom Adams; Sir Frederick Smith; Wynter Crawford; Sir Harold (Bree) St. John; ...

Barbados Today

Barbados Today
Fri, 24 Jul 2015 22:37:30 -0700

Reading a moving tribute to Lady Springer, written by her son Stephen who was unable to attend today's funeral service, family friend David Barrow, son of National Hero Errol Barrow, described his parents, marriage as “a partnership of fire and ice ...

Royal Gazette

Royal Gazette
Mon, 20 Jul 2015 11:57:42 -0700

The spin trio of Haseeb, Thakkar and Sholk Patel claimed three wickets each. “I was kind of thinking we fell about 20 runs short of a target score I had in mind,” Errol Barrow, the Canada coach, said. “But overall it was a good game I would say, even ...

Toronto Star

Toronto Star
Fri, 24 Jul 2015 05:19:24 -0700

Despite some initial apprehension, the first 10 minutes seemed pretty good as I cruised along the Errol Barrow highway admiring the vehicle's smooth ride and comfort. I was even thinking that driving on the left hand side of road wasn't so bad. Bobbing ...
Nation News
Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:00:28 -0800

Dr Ralph Gonsalves speaking on the idea of Barbados at Friday's annual Errol Barrow Memorial Lecture and Awards Ceremony at the University of the West Indies. (Picture by Lennox Devonish) ...

Nation News

Nation News
Tue, 14 Jul 2015 21:07:30 -0700

We all recall and recognize the late Errol Barrow and the Democratic Labour Party that he established. But we do not recognise Mr Stuart's Democratic Labour Party! The Freundel Stuart-led DLP administration is something totally new in our political ...

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