The list of possible candidates associated with the newest political party here has left political scientist Dr George Belle baffled.
The newly-formed Barbados Integrity Movement (BIM) has not been officially launched, but already it is causing some consternation because many of those linked with the party have been members of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) with an association with former Prime Minister Owen Arthur.
The candidates identified include former Member of Parliament for St Michael South Central David Gill, former senator and Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Lynette Eastmond, unsuccessful candidate for St John Hutson Griffith, former Arthur personal assistant Sylvan Greenidge and former Member of Parliament for Christ Church East Wendell Callender. The party is being led by the little-known insurance executive Neil Holder.
While not stating it was a conspiracy to take down BLP leader Mia Mottley, the relationship between Mottley nemesis Arthur and the listed BIM operatives did not escape Belle.
“It is noticeable that Eastmond, Gill and recently appointed talk show moderator Glyne Murray, all support Arthur. They all try to make life uncomfortable for Opposition Leader Mia Mottley. I do not understand why they would continue with this sort of behaviour,” Belle told Barbados TODAY.
Gill had given a strong hint of his intention after he was stung by 37-year-old economist Marsha Caddle in last October’s poll for a nominee to represent the BLP in St Michael South Central in the next election.
After his defeat Gill had charged that the nomination had been rigged in Caddle’s favour and he would neither support her in the election campaign, nor would he have anything to do with Mottley.
Up until last week, the 61-year-old Gill, who won the seat in 1999 but lost every election since, insisted he was still a Bee.
“You may recall that I have not resigned from the Barbados Labour Party, so my voice will be heard in the elections. I will be issuing comments from time to time during the elections,” he told Barbados TODAY at the time when asked about reports that he would be part of a new political movement.
However, today the former legislator openly identified with BIM, although he sought to downplay its potential impact.
“At this time it is merely a meeting of minds, there is nothing to speak about yet. It would be counter-productive with comments being run in the press,” he said.
While Eastmond could not be reached for a comment, Greenidge, who had unsuccessfully sought the nomination to represent the BLP in St Philip South, suggested he had not confirmed his BIM candidacy.
However, he left no doubt as to how he felt about Mottley and the current state of politics.
“I have heard about the new political parties. I have been told that a few of them have been trying to reach me, but so far they have been unsuccessful,” Greenidge told Barbados TODAY.
“I am not really interested in the politics as it stands. I am very disappointed with the BLP and therefore I have pretty much given up. Politics has become a blood sport. I do not think there is any difference between the BLP and the DLP [Democratic Labour Party]. As it stands now I have more confidence in Stuart than I do in Mottley.”
Callender, on the other hand, was adamant he had no interest in BIM and that no one had spoken to him about joining the organization. He said he was directing his energy towards the publication of books.
BIM is the second political party to announce an intention to challenge the two established parties here.
Solutions Barbados, comprised of well-established businessmen under the leadership of Grenville Phillips II, was officially launched last April. It announced earlier this month it had already confirmed 14 candidates, and planned to have a full slate in time for the general election due next year.
However, Belle cautioned that in a situation where there were presently two dominant mass democratic parties that have been around since the 1950s and were now deeply entrenched in Barbadian society, it would be not easy to achieve the desired political breakthrough.
He suggested that the only way this could be done would be to have a leader who is strong enough to pull away the mass base from either the DLP or the BLP.
And in examining the alternatives presently on the table, he said neither possessed the necessary political prestige nor national knowledge.
He therefore doubted that they could better the attempt of the now deceased Dr Richie Haynes, who had formed the National Democratic Party out of a DLP splinter group back in 1989.
“If people don’t know them at the constituency level, how will they know them at the national level? And other than the ones who are not known, the others are failed politicians. If they couldn’t command themselves at the constituency level, how are they going to be the national leaders of a new organization?
“So it is extremely difficult for you to pull away without you having national prestige politically or being able to pull the mass base of one of the established mass parties and that is why a third or fourth party is very difficult,” he said.
In any case, Belle said, it was too late now for any established politician to be looking to jump ship and branch out on their own with elections around the corner.
Nonetheless, given the results of the recent United States presidential elections and the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, Belle left the door open for a political surprise, saying, “In these times unexpected political outcomes seem to be on the cards”.