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A poll! My ‘kingdom’ for a poll!


Ricky Jordan

A poll! My ‘kingdom’ for a poll!

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WHEN IS THE NEXT political poll coming anyway?
I can’t wait. And the political parties shouldn’t want to wait either. In fact, they should be calling for one before the first half of this year.
Why? There’s going to be a general election before 2012 ends and the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) need to be guided by the people’s mood and choices long before then.
No, I didn’t get a hint from anyone in either party’s ranks, nor have I been given a scoop by any official in the scientific polling business; but sheer observation has been more than enough to tell me and many among Barbados’ populace that their political representatives and those aiming to be representatives must not only hit the campaign trail as soon as possible, but all like now respective leaders should be preparing to make crucial decisions about where they want to take their parties.
Does Prime Minister Freundel J. Stuart want to continue in office as leader of a party that does not wholeheartedly have confidence in him? Or does he see himself as the man Barbadians look to daily to make the most important decisions affecting them?
Is it too late for Stuart to throw off that unfortunate image of being an almost invisible Prime Minister in a small country where every single major occurrence affects each person in some significant way? Note the recent Alexandra impasse: the only folk this probably didn’t have an impact on must have been visitors passing through the island for a very short period.
Therefore, no leader can afford, ever again, to be “invisible” or leave national decisions chiefly to subordinates. He must be able to read the people of Barbados and their mood, and the only way he can do so is by being actively engaged in what is directly affecting them day by day.
That’s why Barbados needs a scientific poll, if not within the first quarter, then certainly by July; and I’m hoping political analyst and leading Caribbean pollster Peter Wickham is gearing up for it. Not an innocuous one following elections in some neighbouring state, but a real poll reflecting Barbadians’ heartfelt views on burning issues, especially after the Alexandra case that has captured nearly everyone’s interest for the past month.
It is absolutely necessary for the two main political parties to know, for instance, whom the people are looking to or are willing to look to for leadership. Is the BLP, with a gaping rift in its senior ranks, ready to lead this country again?
Are the people ready for the BLP after rebuffing it so thunderously, to quote Stuart, on a wave of change in 2008?
Are Barbadians satisfied that the ruling DLP has done enough to keep this country on track during arguably its toughest economic challenge in recorded history? Do the economic gurus in the BLP have the answers to bring this economy back to a position of positive growth and stability?
What about Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Chris Sinckler, who is far from “invisible” and was seen by the voting public as “the man” in the last major national poll, but who has also said on record that he “forever” has no desire to be Prime Minister? And if not Stuart or Sinckler, who?
If the ruling party is still apparently struggling to present the right mix of talent to take this country forward, does the BLP offer an alternative range of depth in its own mix of youth and experience in Owen Arthur, Dale Marshall, Mia Mottley and young Senator Santia Bradshaw, among others?
Questions are all I can throw out there. Honestly, I would want the public to give a second chance to any government that has faced challenges so great that it hasn’t had a fair chance to prove itself.
This Government inherited huge debt and other forms of “mess” including Al Barrack and the Mobil oil refinery. Also, it had barely settled into office when the world was almost bulldozed by the financial meltdown, high fuel prices and every knock-on effect imaginable.
And, losing the leader who gave the DLP that much needed fillip after three successive defeats naturally compounded all other challenges.
Having said that, though, I’m not sure that the combination in Cabinet, which makes the main executive decisions for the country, is being utilized in terms of its talent in the right areas. And after three reshuffles, the only mechanism that can properly adjust that combination would be a general election.
Therefore, let’s have a scientific poll very soon and, hopefully, the political parties will make the tough adjustments which that poll is certain to suggest.
And may the better team win!

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