Former parliamentarian Hamilton “Hammie-La” Lashley has said he felt sorry for former Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) representative Dr Maria Agard, who he said recently suffered “a rude awakening” at the hands of her own political party.
In the same vein, Lashley has described the return of Dr William Duguid to the political arena as “a master stroke” by the BLP, even though he believed the best choice of a candidate for the southern riding would be businessman Taan Abed, who ran in the last election as an independent against Dr Agard and attorney-at-law Verla De Peiza of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
On that occasion, Dr Agard, a first timer, claimed the seat.
However, following her expulsion from the BLP on November 22, and her bout with an undisclosed illness, which has sidelined her since the start of the year, Lashley contended it must be tough for the sitting Member of Parliament.
“I feel very sorry for Maria Agard as a woman, particularly to learn recently that she has been very ill.
“I want to convey to her certainly my sentiments for a speedy recovery . . . because I know how politics could be. Politics is not an easy road; it is not a game for the
faint-hearted and over the last couple of months, she would have had some very difficult times in politics, emotionally so, because I am suspecting that her expectations of politics, certainly, did not add up to reality and she had a very rude awakening as to what politics is,” said Lashley, a former Minister of Social Transformation in a BLP administration led by former Prime Minister Owen Arthur. A social activist and grassroots politician, he also served in the DLP administration after quitting the BLP following its defeat in the 2008 poll.
He advised Dr Agard that her family and her health must come first, while thanking her for her contribution to politics.
He credited the Christ Church West MP for trying to bring a new dispensation to politics, but of her BLP demise, he said reality stepped in and she fell victim.
As for the return of Dr Duguid, who held the Christ Church West constituency from 2003 to 2013 before bowing out of elective politics and migrating to Canada, the former St Michael South East MP said the move was “very strategic” and should “carry a lot of weight”, given that “he has very deep pockets” and would be able to help his poor constituents in particular.
“[However], if I had to choose a candidate up there on either side I would choose Mr Taan Abed,” he declared to Barbados TODAY.
He noted that Abed defeated De Peiza by more than 600 votes in an internal election to select the DLP candidate for the seat in 2013, although he was eventually sidelined in favour of De Peiza as the party’s flag bearer.
“That means that he began with a minimum of 600 personal votes. Imagine this, Taan Abed with a minimum of 600 personal votes, which is a lot of votes in a constituency like that, imagine him [as] a BLP [candidate] at this time . . . the result is that he would win the seat.
“That is clear, clear!”
Lashley also said that in the event the BLP did not want Abed, it would be a good strategic move by the DLP to choose Abed instead of De Peiza because “Verla will be up against it” and it would be a mistake to overlook Abed in the traditional BLP stronghold.
Following his rejection by the DLP, Abed had insisted that he was the best man to represent the people of Christ Church West. At the time, he described both De Peiza and Dr Agard as “good ladies” but said they could not provide the representation that the constituency required.
He got 303 votes in the last general election to 1,777 by De Peiza and 2,288 by Dr Agard.
However, when Abed challenged Dr Duguid in a straight fight in 2008, he secured 42.55 per cent of the ballots cast, gaining the support of 1,859 voters, while Dr Duguid claimed the seat for the BLP with 2,510 (57.45 per cent) votes.