The Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is expected to have a fresh and younger candidate in St Michael South to challenge Prime Minister Freundel Stuart in the next general election.
Two young academics have formally thrown their hats into the political ring for an opportunity to take on Stuart who has held seat since 2008 when he defeated the BLP’s Noel Lynch who had represented the constituency for two terms.
Senior Government statistician and General Treasurer of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Asokore Beckles and former Director of Social Policy Research and Planning and ex-Manager of Administration at the Child Care Board Kirk Humphrey are both seeking the nomination to carry the BLP’s flag in the St Michael riding.
Humphrey, who now works for an international agency, told Barbados TODAY his decision to enter elective politics was motivated by a passion to help people “in a genuine way” and to be in a position to shape social policy.
“I had decided a long time ago that I wanted to have a life helping people. And my career has been in social policy, in community work, development studies . . . so I had made a determination when I was, maybe 21, that I wanted to spend my life helping other people,” said the 42-year-old former Director of Constituency Empowerment.
“I feel that I could make a contribution to the development process, I feel I could make a better contribution by becoming involved in elective politics and so I made a decision very early to serve. I want to serve on a Barbados Labour Party ticket because the leadership of the Barbados Labour Party has always been rich,” said the prospective candidate.
Humphrey was of the view that the BLP was committed to assisting the working class, values he said he shared.
“And if you look at the history of the country, people tend to do better when the [Barbados] Labour Party is in power.”
The former senior public servant was undaunted by the prospects of facing the country’s leader, saying he was confident he had what is takes to beat Stuart.
He said he had been spending time in the constituency interacting with the people and he felt they all shared similar values and concerns.
“People believe that running against a prime minister is going to be difficult. But I think that given the state of the country and what Barbados is experiencing and bringing what I want to bring to the process that that constituency matches my values. It is a constituency that is made up of a lot of working class people who understand the struggle . . . and I have been part of that. And I believe that I have many things in sync with the people of that constituency,” the St Michael South hopeful stressed.
“I don’t believe that [it is going to be difficult]. I believe that I have a fair shot at winning the seat and I am willing to take a chance on it,” he pointed out.
The other prospective BLP candidate, 34-year-old Asokore Beckles, could not be reached for comment, but his Facebook page revealed that he has also started canvassing in the constituency.
One post dated yesterday and accompanied by a photo read: “Met one of the many hard working young men of Britton’s Hill and gained valuable knowledge about what is needed for the neighbourhood. There is a lot of work to be done and I will try my best to address the concerns of the young men and women of St Michael South.”
Another post dated April 20 which showed him meeting an elderly woman said: “Senior citizens have been very vocal and I am going to make them a priority because we cannot neglect or ignore those who paved the way for us. Activities and constant contact with them is part of my personal mandate.”
After calling on a small businessman from the area, Beckles wrote on his Facebook page: “Getting valuable feedback on the concerns of a resident and business owner of Reece Road, Britton’s Hill during the past week. The sun was in full force but the people of Britton’s Hill need a voice.”
When Barbados TODAY first reported in January that Beckles was considering challenging for the seat, he initially sought to dismiss the idea before stating that negotiations for a pay rise for public servants would have to be completed before he made a decision on his political future.
Beckles, who is the president of the BLP’s Young Socialists, suggested at the time that declaring his candidacy would be a distraction.
It was not immediately clear today if Lynch, a former Minister of Tourism and the last man to beat Stuart in St Michael South, would also seek the nomination.