by Donna Sealy
The Democratic Labour Party will have a fight on its hands as it seeks to retain the Government in the next general election.
St. Michael South-East MP, Hamilton Lashley, was speaking with Barbados TODAY after a press conference this morning at the UWI’s School of Continuing Studies where he formally announced his retirement from active politics having served the people of the suburban constituency since September 7, 1994 – an unbroken 18 years and two days.
He will demit the seat when the election is called.
“They have to fight hard. You’ve got to work hard and certainly, you get out of something what you put in, I believe that once there is enough work and hard work. In my mind I feel that they could, but they have to work hard. This is a different kind of election, this is a different election – this is one that has been exacerbated by external nuances, mainly the international recession and that the Democratic Labour Party seems to be an unlucky party to me, having come to power every time that the economy [is not strong and] some thing happens to affect the kind of management they would like.
“At the same time, each Member of Parliament has to stay close his/her constituency. People want to know that their representatives are working in their respective constituencies in their interest. People understand there is a recession, but they want to know that their representatives are working for them. They want that kind of person to person contact,” he contended.
Lashley said that what he was speaking about went way beyond the weekly constituency clinics MPs held and had more to do with interaction outside, “human understanding and empathy”.
“The constituency clinic is a routine thing. You meet, hear problems to deal with and some people don’t even come to a constituency clinic. In fact the majority of people that need assistance don’t come to constituency clinics, they don’t. They prefer you to come to them. They’re some people who will not come to a constituency office and sit down, they prefer personal service like what Michael Lashley does in [St. Philip North],” he said.
Some of the 60 year-old self-described grass roots politician’s supporters and friends from both sides of the political divide attended the event during which he cited poor health as the reason that prompted his departure from the fray at this time.
Also during the more than hour-long press conference the “rasta man from the Pine” said that he was backing the candidate chosen by the party and did not throw his support behind any one of the prospective candidates.
“Whoever the Democratic Labour Party presents as the candidate that I will lend my greatest assistance physically and otherwise. I am not particularly in an advisory capacity, I am not running and I’ve had some very bad luck in terms of my health. When they had the very first constituency meeting I collapsed on stage … my blood pressure was very, very low,” he said.
He also disclosed he had collapsed while walking as part of an exercise routine and said “the signals were there” and to run in the next election would be pushing himself.
The MP told Barbados TODAY that “once the democratic process is followed, I have no doubt that the party will retain the seat but they have to satisfy and make sure that the electorate is satisfied. That is something that is left entirely to the party.”
Three people have indicated their interest in representing the people of the constituency — teacher and trade unionist Pedro Shepherd, Chairman of the Constituency Council, Patrick Tannis, and hotelier Hal Martin — who met with the branch on Sunday.
However, today some residents and DLP supporters were upset with the way the selection process is being handled.
They were very vociferous in their opposition and told the media they would prefer to have the men face off in a nomination where they could vote for the person they want.
Some of them threatened to switch allegiance and vote for the BLP’s candidate, Senator Santia Bradshaw.
Lashley, who was at one point an independent MP, thanked both political parties and noted that during his tenure, he had been “accused, refused, sometimes abused”.
“Once you come from the grass roots they call you all kinds of things. They say that you’re a fraud, they say that you’re mad, they call you sometimes a homosexual,” he said, adding though it was all a part of politics.
“In reality, you have one person to be accounted to and that is God and God only…,” said Lashley who said this was an emotional time for him as the people were very good to him. [email protected]