On the heels of this weekend’s Barbados Labour Party (BLP) convention, two political scientists are confident about the Opposition’s readiness to face the next general election.
However, both Peter Wickham and George Belle have expressed unease about the preparedness of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) to face the much-anticipated poll due here by 2018, suggesting that there was still a big question mark over the governing party’s leadership.
“I think we need to be told if the current Prime Minister will continue to represent the Democratic Labour Party going forward, or if he will shift and allow one of the other options that are on the table to take the DLP forward,” explained Wickham, while taking issue with Stuart’s management style, which he said “essentially allows ministers to do as they like”.
Wickham, who is also a noted regional pollster, also questioned whether the DLP would be going into the elections with its existing team and how it would match up against the BLP’s recently-ratified slate of 30 political candidates, which he described as a good mix.
Belle also praised the Opposition team, calling it a “consolidation” which was stronger than its 2013 team.
At the same time, he warned that Stuart did not represent the future of the DLP.
However, he cautioned that there could be “warfare” within the DLP ranks should anyone try to unseat him.
“They got to think for the future, but I don’t think he [Stuart] represents much for the future,” said Belle, arguing that “a new dynamic kind of leader” was needed to take the party into the next election.
He listed Donville Inniss, Chris Sinckler, Ronald Jones and Richard Sealy among the potential leaders of the DLP, but said it was dependent on “if any of them have the guts to move forward at this time, because any moves within that party right now, can even cause [Prime Minister Freundel Stuart] to go into elections sooner than [he] might want to. So they have in a sense to keep quiet.”.
“Those guys are unable in a sense to make a strong move for themselves in the conditions that the party now finds itself in relation to its parliamentary strength . . . and therefore, the very reason why Freundel has been a weak leader and why he has not been able to discipline some uh dem, is the same reason why they can’t challenge him,” he added.
As for the BLP, Belle downplayed suggestions that the recent election of Member of Parliament for St Andrew George Payne to the chairmanship of the Opposition would result in any serious problems for either its leader Mia Mottley or the party as a whole.
In fact, he fully expects Payne to fall in line and not to create any fresh issues for himself or his party.
And to those who remain concerned that the Opposition is still divided into factions, Belle said factions were healthy for any political party once they were properly managed.
“The factions in parties are normal; it is when the factions start to give each other trouble and unless you have evidence that the factions are giving each other trouble, there is not a problem of factions. Right now I do not see any evidence that within the Barbados Labour Party that the factions are not being managed,” he said.