Expect a three-peat!
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has issued a strong warning to his political opponents that the general election battle is yet to begin.
And even before he makes the much-anticipated announcement, Stuart has attempted to put a nail in the proverbial coffin of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), whose fate he suggests is already sealed, since his ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) is assured of a third straight victory at the polls.
It was a tough-talking and confident Stuart who addressed yesterday’s church service marking the birthday of DLP founding father and National Hero Errol Walton Barrow.
However, Stuart, whose Government has recently been on the back foot over its management of the economy, seemed in no hurry to announce the date for the election, which is constitutionally due by next year.
Instead, he exhorted DLP members “not to grow weary”, while telling them, “you have nothing to be ashamed of” in the face of growing opposition to his Government’s policies and programmes.
The Prime Minister therefore appealed to party supporters to remain steadfast in their support for his administration, saying: “Don’t get distracted by a lot of the incoherent noises you hear from time to time. Those issues are going to be settled on a date that I will determine.
“We will rout our adversaries and put them to flight,” he said to the cheers of party supporters.
Addressing the Errol Barrow Memorial Church Service, Stuart also brushed aside calls by the BLP and its leader Mia Mottley for him to call elections now, while cautioning that “a horse can look very fast when he is training by himself . . . but . . . when he has the real competition, you realize that he is nothing at all”.
This drew more applause from members of the congregation at New Testament Church of God, St Lucy, including DLP representative Denis Kellman, who also came in for high praise from Stuart, even though he has been a constant thorn in the side of Government in recent months over various Facebook posts that sparked public controversy.
Most recently Kellman has been under attack for suggesting that potholes could save lives, amid raging public debate over the state of the island’s roads.
However, Stuart said Kellman was assured of his continued support.
“We go back to the early 1990s, and I have satisfied myself beyond any misgiving about his commitment, not only to the parish of St Lucy and the constituents of St Lucy, but to the Democratic Labour Party, and also to the people of Barbados,” the Prime Minister said of the veteran DLP member.
“If it is one thing that could be said about Mr Kellman that would brook no dispute, or contradiction, it is that Errol Walton Barrow has always been his role model in politics, and he has committed himself to rendering the same quality of service that Errol Walton Barrow was able to do,” Stuart added.
The Prime Minister also used the occasion to reiterate his defence of Government’s economic management, while blaming the country’s recent economic challenges on the global financial meltdown, which he said predated the current DLP administration which came to office in 2008.
“It is not an excuse, it is an explanation,” he told the congregation.
“We came to office on the 15th of January, 2008, so we’ve had had to live with all of those challenges from then until now,” he stressed, while complaining that “there have been a number of false prophets running around trying to give the impression that we in Barbados are like a collection of Robinson Crusoes in our little island.
“We are not affected by what happens anywhere else, that we can make our own decisions, do our own thing, and we can be as viable as we want to be.
“Not true,” he insisted, while noting that Barbados depends on tourists from North America, Europe, and the Caribbean, all of which continued to feel the effects of tight economic circumstances.
“We also have to depend on what is going on in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada; Canada in particular if we are going to get the kind of business out of the North Atlantic we want to build our international business and financial services sector,” he said, adding, “We have not allowed our faith to waver and our footsteps to falter as we have tried to deal with these challenges”.