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PETER WICKHAM: DLP’s approach to candidate selection


PETER WICKHAM

PETER WICKHAM: DLP’s approach to candidate selection

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THE DEMOCRATIC LABOUR PARTY’s decision to ditch three of its candidates has brought the party’s approach to candidate selection into focus.

The most striking feature of the announcement was the replacement of these candidates presented as a fait accompli by the general council as distinct from the approach taken by the Barbados Labour Party which held “primary-like” nominations where the branches were given the opportunity to express their support for the candidate.

This process is admittedly messy and has often resulted in the selection of a candidate that the leader appears not to favour, but such is the nature of democracy and it will make the BLP a stronger unit. The DLP’s approach is cleaner and frankly more practical at this late stage; however, it is clearly high-handed and it is fascinating that little has been said in the public domain about this organisation which seeks office while showing so little regard for democracy.

 

 

DLP Losing Performance 2013

Candidate                         Constituency                             %

Above Average

Haynesley Benn …………. (Saint Peter)………………………… 1.9

Patrick Tannis …………… (Saint Michael South East)….. 1.5

Francis DePeiza …………. (Saint Michael North)…………. -0.7

 

Below Average

Harcourt Husbands …… (Saint James North)…………….. -1.9

Rolerick Hinds ………….. (Saint Thomas)……………………. -2.0

Irene Sandiford-Garner …(Saint Andrew)……………….. -2.2

Patricia Inniss …………… (Saint Michael North East)…. -2.3

Verla De Peiza …………….. (Christ Church West)…………. -2.6

Dennis Holder ……………. (Saint Joseph)……………………… -3.0

Jepter Ince ………………….. (Saint George North)………….. -3.1

George Hutson …………… (Saint James Central)…………… -3.8

Patrick Todd ……………… (Bridgetown)………………………. -6.8

Kenneth Best ……………… (Saint Michael East)…………….. -7.4

Esther Byer Suckoo ….. (Saint George South)…………… -13.0

National Swing…………. -1.5

 

Issues of democracy aside, the logic by which the three were identified seems odd and it quickly becomes clear that candidates are favoured, or not, for reasons which have little to do with their performance in 2013 or their potential. The DLP appears instead to be saying that it is confident of victory (again) and can select whoever it “likes” for whatever internal reasons based on information that the public need not concern itself with.

To this end, the appended chart presents the performance of all losing DLP candidates in 2013 in order of performance based on personal swing (best-worst) with an indication regarding the candidates who performed below the party’s average swing (-1.5 per cent).

The way this swing analysis is computed has been discussed previously and is one of the fairest methods of assessing the performance of candidates who do not win. The two most obvious implications of this analysis are that the DLP’s strongest losing performer was Haynesley Benn in St Peter, while its worst was Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo in St George South. As such, Benn should have been the most valued candidate with Byer-Suckoo being the first fired.

She, along with Kenny Best, Patrick Todd and George Hutson, were the worst performing candidates and this could to some extent explain why this group was targeted.  The illogic therefore is the exclusion of Byer-Suckoo as it is known that Hutson will not represent the party in 2018 and his replacement is perhaps not yet ready to be announced.

Ironically, both Byer-Suckoo and Todd appear to enjoy the Prime Minister’s confidence, by virtue of their placement in the Cabinet, while Benn appears not to by his placement in Canada. In addition to these two, the three other candidates who made it to Stuart’s Cabinet also performed below average demonstrating that his selection was clearly not related to political value.

If one assumes that Byer-Suckoo will make the cut as a candidate, we can equally assume that the DLP has no further interest in winning that seat.  There is a similar illogic regarding the exclusion of Tannis who outperformed 11 of his DLP colleagues and recorded a positive swing of 1.5 per cent (better than the DLP’s -1.5).  While it is possible the DLP intends to replace more of these 14, there is no logical basis on which a serious party should seek to replace a candidate who outperformed the party, while retaining several who can easily be considered liabilities.  

Peter W. Wickham is a political consultant and a director of Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES). Email: [email protected]

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