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IT MATTERS MOST: Poll-fault


Clyde Mascoll

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LAST WEEK I wrote that the CADRES Poll is not sufficiently stratified to differentiate leadership between the internal party level and among all Barbadians. The fact that a person who is polled is a supporter of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) does not mean that the person is a member of the party and of course the same reasoning applies to the Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
A party member has an opportunity to determine the internal leadership of the party, therefore a polled BLP/DLP supporter has to be a member of the party to have a say in its internal leadership. The external leadership derives its power from within Parliament by way of the people.
Lo and behold, by Sunday before the cat lick he ear, the exact point which I was proposing was being borne out by George Payne’s decision to run for a third term as chairman (leader) of the internal affairs the BLP.
To demonstrate my point even more, the recent CADRES Poll did not identify George Payne among those receiving “party support for leaders”. The poll was not designed to identify party members so it could not measure the real preferences of members for potential leadership of the internal affairs of the party.
On the other hand, the CADRES poll is capable of speaking to the external leadership of the party which is believed to be the more powerful of the two types of leadership, given that the ultimate political power comes from the voters.
Ideally, the same person holds both types of leadership at the appropriate time.
Not too long ago, in 2001, David Thompson held both types of leadership and opted to resign as president of the party by way of a letter which appeared in THE NATION before reaching the executive and general councils of the DLP. He held on to the post of Opposition Leader based on a legal technicality of what constitutes a majority; his half was more than Kellman’s half and so he prevailed without the support of Kellman.
Though the two types of leadership are definitely related, the action of Thompson in 2001 demonstrates that the power to lead comes from two very different sources, internal and external, through very different means.
What if Kellman was able to mount a campaign for president of the DLP at the time and what if he had done so and won?
The reality is that a political leader must be able to command a significant majority following within his party if he is to be able to extend his reach outside of the party. This speaks to the CADRES Poll and its inability to make definitive conclusions about internal party leadership, when it is not scientifically designed to do so.       
There is therefore a very real danger in trying to suggest that a poll which is conducted on external support is capable of determining the internal leadership of either of the two political parties in Barbados.
Like the first ever mid-term CADRES Poll in 2005, the recent one is attempting to create “the man”, but the circumstances are completely different. In 2005, the then Opposition leader had battled to secure almost 45 per cent of the popular vote in the general election of 2003, up from 38 per cent in 1999. Notwithstanding, the majority of support among parliamentarians is the source of the power.
Now, in trying circumstances, the position is that of Prime Minister, which is also decided by the majority support among parliamentarians. So why was there a need to separate leadership between internal and external, even though the poll does not scientifically allow it?
Perhaps if Chris Sinckler is made to be more popular externally in a poll of uncertainty, then it would certainly influence his internal appeal.  Apparently, the choice of the next Prime Minister is to be determined by a poll-fault.
Our very challenging future is in the pollster’s hands!  
• Clyde Mascoll is a professiional economist and former Government minister in the last Barbados Labour Party administration.

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