The future of five-time candidate David Gill in the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) now weighs in the balance, following his defeat by a political newcomer.
Gill, who won the St Michael South Central seat back in 1999, but lost to Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy in the three successive national elections since, was last night dealt what is arguably his harshest political sting – this time at the hands of his own political party.
He lost to Marsha Caddle who emerged as the one who would carry the party’s flag into the next election with 132 votes to Gill’s 103, leaving him to openly ponder his future with the BLP.
“The machinery was against me, and I could not have fought it,” cried Gill.
He also claimed that he was denied some 60 votes even though he had submitted the names for membership within the stipulated six-week period.
“The curtain has come down and I have left the stage,” he added.
Gill’s comments forced an immediate response from BLP General Secretary Dr Jerome Walcott, who took to the microphone to explain that the 60 votes, which Gill said he was denied, were among 71 names the former candidate had submitted for BLP membership.
“Twenty-three of those forms were incomplete. Indeed some of them had not even been signed by the persons who were applying for membership,” Walcott said.
He also quoted from the party’s constitution, saying there was need for “a person to be a member of this party for six weeks before their membership is recognized”.
However, Dr Walcott said that in the case of Gill’s would-be voters, the six-weeks period would mean that those persons would become members on October 9. “Today is the 2nd of October. Clearly [applying] basic arithmetic, they would not qualify. Today they would not be within the six-week period and certainly could not be included on the list,” he stressed.
Prior to the vote, Gill had given a hint of things to come when he continued speaking after his allotted time, forcing Dr Walcott, who was chairing the session, to signal to operators of the public address system to cut his microphone.
However, this did not deter Gill who continued speaking, shouting his appeal to the crowd for another minute.
In that last ditch appeal before the vote, Gill, who is in his 50s, highlighted his 17-year stewardship with the BLP, while contending that he was still the right man for the job.
“I want to represent you, because I was there as your representative at one stage. The constituency was doing very well socially, and the DEMS [Democratic Labour Party] came, and whatever we had on the drawing board, or whatever was in place, they changed, they closed it.
“The polls are showing that the Barbados Labour Party will win the next Government, so the logical thing would be to restart those projects which were going, and to add new projects with them,” he told the gathering at the St Michael School auditorium.
Thirty-eight-year-old Caddle, on the other hand, highlighted the need for change.
“This is a new day in this country. Let us look around,” she said, “Business as usual in our outlook and in our approach is not going to work.
“It is not going to help rescue this country from those who seem to think that they can treat the legacy of independence . . . with such scant respect.”
In her post-victory remarks, Caddle entreated Gill, to work along with her, while telling her political opponent Richard Sealy to “come and look and see what representation looks like, what care, community and courage look like”.