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After the poll, what?


Ricky Jordan

After the poll, what?

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I asked for a poll at the end of January and got one; now where does the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and Opposition Barbados Labour Party go from here with elections due in eight months’ time?
Have the last 20 months been enough for Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to stamp his authority on the position he came into on the death of Prime Minister David Thompson in October 2010? It is clear that Stuart has found some difficulty in wearing the mantle of full leadership of the party and as a result, of his country.
In reflecting on last December when the Eager Eleven had formulated a letter expressing their dissatisfaction with Stuart instead of having a direct discussion with him, it became clear to me and many that Stuart’s colleagues, especially those in the Cabinet with whom he sits every Thursday, did not feel comfortable enough to converse frankly with him. Could Stuart’s rapport with his Members of Parliament – the same ones who voted unanimously for him after Thompson’s death – have deteriorated in such a short time?
After promising that heads would roll or some form of discipline would follow, even by way of at least a frank conversation regarding the attempted “palace coup” late last year, the public has seen nothing of a disciplinary nature from our leader, except the fact that the former acting Prime Minister has been overlooked on at least three occasions.
If Stuart is tempering justice with mercy in regard to the 11, won’t that come back to haunt him and is that the best example of management of a team preparing for a general election?
In terms of the leadership of the country, Stuart has been found wanting in some areas, mainly due to his lack of expeditious decisions on issues which have worried Barbadians.
And the electorate has in no uncertain terms voiced its disapproval of Government’s management of the economy, the Four Seasons resort, and a few matters which have been dismissed by the Prime Minister as “non-issue(s)”.
One also must be a tad disappointed by the message being inadvertently sent by the Prime Minister of his seeming lack of information or interest in reading about matters of obvious priority to Barbadians, including the CLICO audit which he admitted not to have read long after it was in the public domain, and his admission that he recently relied on information from other people in regard to a poll coming almost on the eve of an election.
But is it too late now for Stuart? He has until January next year to change his unfortunate image of being “invisible”, to bring new ideas via the Budget, and to advertise as effectively as possible –  including via social media – documented proof of what his Government has achieved, especially in terms of social and welfare programmes.
Another area in which Stuart can strengthen his and the party’s public image is by levelling with Barbadians once and for all. Barbados is in trouble, people are in pain, and it makes no sense spouting economic jargon.
Furthermore, such failure to have a frank and open rapport with the public was a glaring weakness of Government prior to 1994, and the late Prime Minister made this a priority by hosting quarterly media conferences in which he fielded questions on every single issue.
Stuart, despite the poll’s portrayal and timing, would be doing himself and his country a major disservice to walk meekly into the jaws of defeat.
Conversely, the BLP, even with the public’s favour at this time, will also be expected to give a thorough breakdown of how it will jump-start and drive the economy. It has to show clearly that Mia Mottley, second as the people’s choice for leader, will have a senior and not “ordinary” place in any future BLP administration.
The BLP also cannot take Arthur’s popularity for granted, since he was also the leading individual prior to the last general election but lost the Government.
May the better team win!
A few questions for Mac Fingall.
• Should mediocrity be condoned simply because some artistes are young?
• Should reporters tell them about the basics after they would’ve already been instructed by experienced musicians and artistes?
• Do you, Mac, respect the reporters whom you want to pull young artistes “one side”?
• Who is tearing down who, Mac?

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