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EDITORIAL: Gearing up for political battle


EDITORIAL: Gearing up for political battle

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LAST SATURDAY, the Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) internal machinery was in full gear when the St James South branch met and selected Sandra Husbands to be its standard bearer in that constituency in the next general election. She will be going up against incumbent Donville Inniss for the second time.

One day later, that machinery was shifted to the bastion of Democratic Labour Party (DLP) support, the St John constituency, where newcomer Charles Griffith got the nod over two other challengers, after the last person to carry the BLP flag there, Hudson Griffith, withdrew from the race. Charles Griffith will not just be fighting MP Mara Thompson, but almost 60 years of unbroken DLP representation.

Tomorrow, when the Bees move to St Michael North West to determine who they will select to challenge incumbent Chris Sinckler, who by all indications has been working hard to entrench himself in that seat, the BLP would have completed its entire candidate selection process. Its next step will be a public parade of those candidates at its annual conference at the Lester Vaughan School this weekend.

With its full slate of candidates in place, the engaging of the Government on the political battlefield is likely to be intensified, and given the current climate of increasingly vocal expressions of dissatisfaction with how some critical social issues are being handled, we suspect there will be some interesting days ahead.

Only the most rabid of supporters would not admit that on matters such as the handling of the water situation in St Lucy, St Peter, St Andrew, St Thomas, St Joseph and St John in particular; the protracted islandwide failure of the Sanitation Service Authority to keep the streets clear of garbage; the never-ending struggle of the Transport Board to adequately service its commuters; the rapid and extensive deterioration of our road network, and the literal overgrowth of the country with bush while the agricultural sector appears rudderless, the Freundel Stuart Government has been on the back foot for what now seems like an eternity.

On the macro economic front, the country has been moving ahead with a level of momentum that can at best be described as limp, and while tourism has shown significant growth and looks set to record another bumper winter season, for some reason it does not appear to be achieving the trickle down effect, or general economic boost of years past.

And since the issue of debt versus gross domestic product that has led to repeated downgrades and some not-so-flattering assessments by international ratings agencies such as Standard Poor’s and Moody’s has not changed materially, the immediate prospect of more favourable commentary from them seems at best to be bleak.

Under the circumstances, therefore, as we clear the emotion of celebrating our 50th anniversary of Independence and head into 2017, the prospect of, and interest in, a general election will increase. According to the Section 61 (3) of the Constitution, Parliament has to be dissolved five years after the first sitting following a general election. The first sitting of the current Parliament was on March 6, 2013, which means that under normal circumstances its life will end in March 2018.

It would therefore not be too much of a stretch to conclude that 2017 will be a heated year politically, particularly since the politically savvy would hardly expect the Prime Minister to box himself into a corner as he did in 2013 by waiting until the last minute to call an election. But in the end, the choice of an election date is his and his alone.

But we believe that having completed its candidate selection process, the BLP’s annual conference will become a battle rally for its troops and thereafter the Bees will embark on an agenda-setting crusade for the Government.

And that may be just what the country needs at this time. There are too many issues on which this Government appears to be getting a free pass, while the Opposition has been lacklustre in its approach, with too much of its time spent on internal battles. Maybe now with all its artillery trained on the Government and its performance, or lack thereof, Barbadians will benefit from better governance until the election bell has been rung.