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OUR CARIBBEAN: Stuart and the results of the CADRES poll

OUR CARIBBEAN: Stuart and the results of the CADRES poll

By Rickey Singh | Fri, May 25, 2012 - 12:00 AM

Let's face it, no Head of Government in any part of the world where multiparty parliamentary democracy is the norm, would take kindly to a public opinion poll that has him and the party he leads at the far end of losers.

Certainly not when, as in Barbados’ case, the Prime Minister is hosting his first ever summit of Caribbean Community leaders and the president of Mexico while pondering when to announce the date for a new general election.

Well, this was the case last weekend when, with an IT’S OWEN headline, the SUNDAY SUN reported the findings of a poll by CADRES’ director Peter Wickham on the very day Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, leader of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), was preoccupied with arrangements for guests from Mexico and CARICOM states.

That CADRES poll was certainly not the sort of “news” Prime Minister Stuart had any interest in receiving at this agonizing period of spreading discontent over rising cost of living and speculations of what the coming new Budget may bring – ahead of a new general election.

Yet, it’s difficult not to be impressed by the Prime Minister’s spirited reaction when he answered media questions on Tuesday. Stuart stressed he would not be “distracted” by such polls and remained “focused on Barbados’ development and the return of the DLP to office . . . .”

Not surprisingly, the Prime Minister had an angry response to the “messenger” of the poll results. Wickham, he stiffly declared, did not say anything [in the latest survey] that he was not saying “since 2000 on call-in programmes or in the newspaper . . . . That does not in any way interfere with or injure the interest of the Government of the Democratic Labour Party . . . .”

Time will tell how wrong, or correct, the Prime Minister was in hurling his barbs at Wickham. But I recall that the Wickham-directed CADRES, while off the mark in some polls conducted in other CARICOM states, was very much on the mark in forecasting the DLP’s defeat of Owen Arthur’s third-term Barbados Labour Party administration in January 2008.

Wickham subsequently wrote some provocative disapprovals of the DLP’s governance under Stuart. For now, let me conclude by noting how disappointed the Prime Minister may have been at what unfolded after his public defence of Sir Roy Trotman over that controversial “Egyptian Jew” categorization of Diamonds International’s boss Jacob Hassid.

Having surprisingly dismissed the furore as a “non-issue” since, as he said, Sir Roy had “apologized”, the Prime Minister was to learn from the BWU’s boss himself, that “no apologies” had been offered and none would be forthcoming. But Stuart would know that in politics all things are possible. Not just politicians and pollsters know this, but journalists as well.

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