Never mind the current economic turmoil, the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) still stands a very good chance of winning the next general election, said a former deputy elections chief.
Delivering the party’s lunchtime lecture at its George Street headquarters today, Donville Johnson, who served as Deputy Chief Electoral Officer from 1998 to 2006, also sought to assure DLP faithful that today’s dismissal of Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Dr DeLisle Worrell will have absolutely no bearing on the national poll result.
“The Barbadian public is not stupid,” declared Johnson, insisting that the electorate were fully aware that Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler was acting within the scope of his power and in the best interest of the country in demanding Worrell’s removal.
In the lead up to today’s sacking, Sinckler and Worrell had been at odds over economic strategy, with the Governor warning Government that it needed to immediately halt the printing of money and make major spending cuts.
The bitter dispute resulted in the minister’s demand that the 72-year-old Governor, who had been in office for close to eight years, either resigned or be fired. However, Worrell decided to go the route of court action, but was only able to hold off his scheduled February 13 dismissal by just over a week.
Yesterday, the Court of Appeal dismissed the Governor’s case, clearing the way for today’s dismissal.
In response to arguments by the Governor’s attorney Gregory Nicholls that Sinckler did not have the right to remove Worrell in the way he did, Johnson said: “You cannot tell me that you can hire but not fire.
“We have previous examples before where one got fired by email, but this one went to court and the court has ruled that and we must give honour to the court. A panel of three judges made the way clear that Mr Worrell can be fired,” the former Electoral and Boundaries Commission official contended.
As for the party’s chances in the elections, which are constitutionally due within the next 12 months, Johnson, a staunch supporter of the DLP, said the party still had “the calibre of candidates to retain the Government, despite the perception of economic turmoil within the country”.
In response to suggestions that public support for the DLP was at an all-time low, the former diplomat said there was no real evidence to show that Government was losing voter confidence, given that the majority of the DLP candidates were political stalwarts who knew the importance of maintaining the all-important connection with their constituents.
“There are some politicians who come in on the swing and therefore it takes only a little bit of swing to carry them back out. There are some politicians who can’t tell how they won their seat in the first place. There are politicians who just happen to be there at the opportune time and they are usually the first to go.
“However a politician who understands that he is a politician and who keeps counsel with his constituents, who shows that he has a lot of interest in people and visits the constituency throughout the term will stand the test of time,” he said, while insisting that the DLP was not in danger of losing the upcoming poll.
Johnson made the bold utterance despite the fact that the DLP has not yet chosen a significant number of its candidates to contest the next general elections.
He also defended Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s leadership style, suggesting that while critics may interpret his silence on national issues as a weakness, it really was not.
“People just want to listen and put people in a box. Our current Prime Minister dares to be different from previous Prime Ministers, so he is seen as weak. However, he is different because God has made all originals, so he does not have to follow what others did before,” Johnson said.