Submitted by Yardbroom
On January 20, 1999, The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) won 26 Parliamentary Seats to the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) 2. It must have seemed as if the foundations of the DLP had been shaken to its core, and there would be a period of irreversible decline. However, on the 21, May 2003, the DLP made a comeback of sorts, capturing 7 seats to the BLP’s 23; after much DLP effort this meagre return in the BLP’s victory underlined the enormity of the task facing the DLP, as the BLP rode on the crest of a wave. The DLP was not a place to reside for faint hearts….as the populace “went with Owen”.
Some say complacency by the BLP, others give different reasons but however you call it, there was a mood swing in Barbados and on 15 January 2008 the Democratic Labour Party of Barbados led by David Thompson won by 20 seats to the BLP’s 10 and secured the majority to form a Government.
Against this background, we now look forward to the next general election, the important players and the factors which will influence voters to choose either DLP or BLP.
On the 23 October 2010 our Prime Minister The Honourable David Thompson QC, MP died at the relatively early age of 48 years while in office, he had been Prime Minister for just under three years. David Thompson’s illness caused a frenzy of activity in the BLP, culminating in the removal of Mia Mottley as opposition leader of the BLP. I will return to the main players later but now I will focus on Mia Mottley.
Most Barbadians of unbiased political leanings, ask, what was wrong with Mia Mottley? No satisfactory explanation has ever been given. She was removed, as was the right of her parliamentary colleagues, it is true but the ramifications of that single act will take many years to abate. She must not allow herself to be a single outrider. She just has to play the waiting game, and she will see off many who replaced her. It would do her well to go nowhere, stay put, her mere presence is a trump card.
Owen Arthur is a “last man standing politician” and he should never be underestimated. However, the expected turmoil in the DLP Government never materialised. Someone in the DLP with the influence, authority and the ability to talk sense, must have spoken to them, for they never sought the easy route of loud talk into political oblivion. Was the gentle urgings of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart at work?
Prime Minister Stuart leads without confusion and ego. He thus allows young shoots to flourish, giving them space to tower in their own light, surely a touch of genius. A rare treat, few are they who are “quietly” prepared to do great deeds unsound.
I give you one of the most undemonstrative of West Indies cricket captains the late Sir Frank Worrell, who was able to mould individual stars into an impregnable tower of strength. No shouting from the roof tops; quietly flows the dawn.
To the election “itself.” Elections are not won on the backs of the die hard DLP or BLP supporters, they are won with the support of the middle ground masses. People who do not know CLICO from BICO or Bolt On from Bolt Down, but they know if there is a better chance of decent housing and if they can express themselves in convivial company and keep their pick – job – and if there is genuine hope for their children’s future. The intricacies of Government matter little to those voters, they ask themselves how does what is being done affect me.
We should never forget, there is a “selfish” component in the voting public’s exercise of their democratic right. There is still a large gap between the DLP and the BLP in terms of popular support, but it is not as yet unbridgeable.
I will identify three constituencies which are of particular interest, and a fourth to gauge acceptance of Prime Minister Stuart. In the general election of 15th January 2008:
St Michael North West
Christopher Sincker DLP 2,330 53%
Clyde Mascoll BLP 1,990 47%
It can be said that Chris Sincker’s status has increased immeasurably since the last election and his influential position in the cabinet will work to his advantage.
George Payne, BLP 2,639 50%
Irene Sandiford-Garner, DLP 2,590 50%
George Payne “perhaps” has improved his status in the BLP, but Irene Sandiford- Garner has studiously gone about the people’s business and some would say discharged them with some skill. This will be a close contest, the die hard in St George voters are not prone to movement, but there are enough “floaters” to make the difference. The Party that wins this seat will probably form the next Government. It is a bellwether for the general election, the DLP should concentrate resources here.
St Michael West Central
Rommel Marshall, BLP 2,142 48%
James Paul, DLP 2,167 50%
An overcrowded ZR van of “25 passengers” separates the combatants here, it would be a brave man who “predicts” this one. I will leave it to the electorate, one word or event misplaced will make the difference….but the general mood at the time will hold sway.
St Michael South
Fruendel Stuart, DLP 2,435 60%
Noel Lynch. BLP, 1,625 40%
So much has happened since January 15, 2008 that Fruendel Stuart is not the same man in terms of authority and command as he was then, and that will make the difference in this result.
In Summation. Mia Mottley is the “key” that can open many doors. Owen Arthur can never be easily dismissed, but he will need all his tactical acumen and skill to bring this situation back from the brink.
Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart just needs to keep his troops together, and they in turn must remember, a good team is more than the sum of individual players; or they will find themselves in that dark forbidding abyss and lonely place of the politician, who once had great authority and position and then has much “time” to ponder on what could have been.