“Cross over to the other side Maria. Join the Democratic Labour Party (DLP).”
This suggestion today from Hamilton “Hammie-La” Lashley, who said he knows only too well what expelled Barbados Labour Party (BLP) representative Dr Maria Agard is going through.
Lashley, who represented St Michael South East from 1994 to 2008 under both the DLP and the BLP during a political career which spanned two decades, ending in 2013, also warned Agard that running as an Independent could spell the end of her career.
He revealed that having also faced expulsion from the BLP, he knows exactly how she is feeling.
“I have been in Maria’s situation before and it is not an easy one to be in. Running as an Independent will mean that her constituents will suffer because she won’t be able to do much for them without assistance. Her best bet will be to align herself with the DLP,” Lashley told Barbados TODAY in an interview this afternoon.
“The likelihood is that she will get very little done as an Independent unless Government decides to assist her. In fact, she will be worse off.
“Maria has to ask herself, ‘what can I do to enhance my constituency that I was duly elected to represent’, and she has to make that decision in her best interest,” he stressed.
Lashley who ran under a DLP ticket during the 1994 elections, said if Dr Agard did decide to join the ruling party, it would be in the best interest of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to accept her.
“If I was Prime Minister Stuart, I would embrace her. I would bring her right into my camp because it would relieve me of some of the stress considering the narrow numbers that I have against the Opposition and it gives me more flexibility and more elbow-room to do what I want to do,” he said of the current 16-12 split in Parliament, where former Prime Minister Owen Arthur and Dr Agard now sit as Independents.
Referring to Agard’s situation as “unfortunate”, Lashley argued that the Christ Church West MP, who is a dentist by profession, now needed to concentrate on winning back the support of her constituents.
He said while he understood she was going through a tough period, it was extremely important for her not to lose touch with them.
“I was in her position and I made a conscious decision that I had to go to the party to help the people. It isn’t about [Dr] Maria Agard anymore, it is not about her, it is about the people in Christ Church West.
“Too much emphasis is being placed on the individual and the party. I’ve listened to everybody talking, but very few people are talking about in the interest of the people of Christ Church West, and what are the issues facing them outside of the [Dr] Maria Agard saga,” Lashley lamented.
He recalled how after being invited to join the BLP in 1998 by then Prime Minister Owen Arthur, and after two successful terms, he felt “disrespected and marginalized” by some members of the party.
However, facing the possibility of being expelled, Lashley said he left the party in 2010 to rejoin the DLP.
“People talk a lot of foolishness about me running from party to party . . . but I want people to know that for me it was all about representing the people of St Michael
“I am one of only two people, the other being Don Blackman, to have won the same seat with both the DLP and the BLP and that shows that the constituents wanted me, regardless of the party I was representing,” he explained.
“Politics isn’t about representing yourself, it is about representing the people who voted you in, and that is what [Dr] Maria Agard has to understand. She cannot help them on her own.”