One of the many problems which afflict our political system is the overwhelming focus on the ‘maximum’ leaders of the two main political parties, case in point Fruendel Stuart and Owen Arthur. The talk shows, newspapers and of course ‘the blogs’ you name it, the majority of the conversation is always about Arthur and Stuart. No wonder when our leaders depart – Tom Adams, Errol Barrow and David Thompson – there is a void which the parties have struggled to fill.
It seems like a long time since Mia Mottley was removed as leader of the Opposition. Of interest is that Dale Marshall continued in his role as deputy opposition leader if there is such a position. Marshall has never attained a national profile which placed him in the conversation to be considered prime minister material. It is clear his role as deputy was to placate the Payne faction and also to recognize his facile political persona.
As gearing for the next election intensifies Arthur has recognized (very quickly) that a role must be defined for Motley given her relatively high national profile. He has had no choice but to let her assume the role of party whip used here to mean amplifying party views. We have seen her replying as lead spokesman of the opposition to the most important debates for the year; the Estimates and the Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals. As Motley has regained prominence Dale Marshall has had to revert to a role which he seems comfortable. A recent press conference by the opposition to respond to the S&P downgrade exposed the batting order if one judges from the speaking order – Arthur, Motley and Mascoll. A throwback to the last election maybe when some had concerns about whether Mascoll or Mottley was the deputy?
Over the divide in the wake of the E11 saga which has interacted with the Alexandra fiasco to Jones’ disadvantage, Barbadians have witnessed the quiet dissatisfaction of Prime Minister Stuart with his long standing ‘Acting Prime Minister’. Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy has received a call up to act as deputy on the occasions Prime Minister Stuart has had to leave the country. Sealy obviously has been rewarded for his loyalty; at the time. What has not worked for Stuart in the eyes of an enquiring public is the Marshall-like personality which Sealy possesses. Given Stuart’s own taciturn nature, one would have thought a more boisterous appointment as his deputy would have been more politically astute.
If we look pass the two political leaders to plot a matchup with a general election on the horizon, Arthur and the BLP has the clear advantage if we stop at the deputy position. The recent CADRES poll has given Arthur the big lead over Stuart in assessing the leadership position. To win the next general election Stuart will have to communicate to a demanding public in a way he has been unable to do since he assumed office. To many, like BU, who will sit on the fence for this election it will be interesting to observe the strategy of the DLP who has enjoyed making a hash of it of late. Arthur has his people singing from the same hymn sheet, Stuart and the DLP can learn a thing or two by doing the same.
At this late stage in the game it is hard to fathom what will be the DLP strategy to win the next election.