The slogan, it’s the economy, stupid, coined by American campaign strategist James Carville for Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign has been turned on its head by Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Senator Jepter Ince.
Ince Sunday night told a meeting of the St James North branch of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) that the next general elections would not be decided on economic management, but on who was best able to lead the country.
And he made the bold prediction that the Freundel Stuart-led DLP would win a third straight term.
“The reason why I am saying that this DLP is going to win the next election, and confident about it, is that the next election is not going to be about unemployment; it is not going to be about foreign reserves; it is not going to be the fiscal deficit; it is not going to be about housing, it is going to be about who is better able to lead this country, because as you see it now the economy is turning around,” he told party supporters at St Albans Primary School in Weston, St James.
“I am confident that when all of the analyses of the work done by both parties over the years are done and all of the characteristics of the leaders are observed, the people of Barbados are going to come down on the side of Stuart and the DLP. So let them huff and puff.”
Ince, who unsuccessfully contested the St George North constituency in the 2013 general election, warned supporters that the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) would use every possible strategy to woo voters, including focusing on the economy.
“Whenever the country is at crossroads; whenever the economy is challenged; when our businesses seem to be falling apart; when our lives seem to be threatened, the DLP is in office,” he said, while encouraging Barbadians to think these things through before voting in the election, due next year.
In addition, he said the DLP under former Prime Minister Erskine Sandiford (now Sir Lloyd) had done “outstanding work” during the difficult economy period of the early 1990s and had left office with a restricted and growing economy.
He charged that by the time the DLP was returned to office three terms later in 2008, the economy was haemorrhaging, with a fiscal deficit of 12 per cent.
“We gave the BLP a Barbados Water Authority that was worth $189 million and free of debt; we gave them a restructured Transport Board and we came to office and found it running a $10 million over draught at an 8.75 per cent interest rate. Look at what we did for the National Housing Corporation.
“The problem in the country is not economic management at all, it is not the debt at all. Both Governments borrowed funds to execute major projects. What Stuart did was to plug the trough,” Ince argued.