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“At 16 I spoke on my first political platform and I told the crowd then, when I returned from studying overseas I would come back and represent St Michael South East. That’s exactly what I did after studying law.”
For Santia Bradshaw representing St Michael South East was something she was sure she would do in years to come. Some might say that she was being a tad prophetic all those years earlier by making a declaration that many adults within earshot would have easily dismissed. But people were not aware of Bradshaw’s confidence in the direction her life was supposed to take.
“As a child coming up I always envisaged that I would go into public life. I thought I would actually go on the House of Assembly, become a minister and go on to serve my country” Bradshaw revealed. “It was two years prior to running in my first election that I was actually appointed to the Senate. The Senate therefore gave me a good foundation to go into elective politics and I got to learn a lot about how government works.”
Perhaps those innate yearnings for a political career were kindled from watching her father, Delisle Bradshaw, a former Minister of Housing with the BLP, interfacing with his constituents, speaking on political platforms, or opening his heart and in some instances, his home, and serving his community.
I came up seeing my Dad serve at the highest level. Service was something I saw daily. I understood coming up that you couldn’t turn people away. People were always at our house,’ she said. “If someone lost their house in fire, kids still needed to be sent to school, so they’d turn up at our house. You always had to embrace people. I grew up having people eat at the same dining room table as me. It was always a household in which you reached out to people.”
Bradshaw still credits her father, who is her campaign manager, with providing her a sense of versatility, an independence of spirit, and a commitment to keeping one’s word that has defined her approach not only to politics, but to her life as well.
“They’re very few children of politicians that come into public life. They’re often compared to their parents and they’re judged as a result of being the person who is the public figure’s child,” she said. “I decided early on that I wanted to be a politician. The people who I admired were people who studied law and then went into politics. I understood that the reason for that is law gives you a good framework and understanding to be able to represent people. I also understood that law was not going to be the be all and end all for me. My parents raised me to be very diverse.
“I can turn cement, run a rum shop, I can paint, I can cook, I can do several things, “ she said proudly. “Politics was not supposed to define me and neither was a law degree and therefore I feel I can do pretty much anything that I put my mind to.”
What she wants to do right now is to help her party win the next election because she feels the country is at a crossroad. In many respects, Bradshaw feels she and the Barbados Labour Party are called upon to lead another transformation in the country. With constituents facing high unemployment, especially many young people, seeing the problems with infrastructure and the high cost of living, Bradshaw has remained committed to her calling and those in her constituency.
“What I thought I would have been able to achieve at a government level I had to switch directions after that loss in the last election,” Bradshaw said. “It wasn’t getting people loads of jobs and homes, but Barbados was at a juncture back in 2013 and still is where politicians have had to become almost like social workers. We have had to give hope to people. A lot of the times it has been trying to inspire people and motivate them that we can get back to where we once were.”
According to Bradshaw she isn’t surprised at the people she meets canvassing who have become cynical of politicians and government.
“I find myself trying to explain to people that there was a time when politicians were accountable and particularly for the young voters who’ve only know the last ten years and hear that politicians are corrupt and are carrying away money without having to account for their individual ministries, then I can’t blame them for feeling jaded by the political process,” she said. But the leadership of the Barbados Labour Party understands that people are expecting an even higher level of accountability and transparency from their politicians, and that’s what we are prepared to give.”
The above is a paid political broadcast sponsored by the Barbados Labour Party. The views and opinions expressed in this broadcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of the Nation.