The Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is pleased with the turnout for yesterday’s national March of Disgust, which party spokesman Dale Marshall says has “rattled” the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
“I can’t see that they’d be sitting in their homes today and be thinking that the Barbadian electorate is continuing to be passive, that the Barbadian electorate is continuing to be satisfied with the decline in our standard of living, our economy,” said Marshall, in reflecting on Saturday’s BLP-led march and rally, which culminated in Jubilee Gardens, The City, and is said to have attracted about 10,000 people.
“I can’t imagine that after yesterday’s demonstration by the Barbadian electorate that the Government could feel confident and comfortable,” he stressed.
However, two of the island’s newest political groupings have sought to downplay the success of yesterday’s event.
Former BLP Cabinet Minister Lynette Eastmond, who is the leader of the United Progressive Party, and Grenville Phillips II, the leader of Solutions Barbados, were both guests on Sunday’s Starcom Network’s Down to Brass Tacks programme, along with Marshall.
“Elections are won constituency by constituency and how each constituent feels about their current representative,” cautioned Eastmond, while pointing out that the BLP has had “three stabs at mobilizing people to make it appear as though Barbadians actually support the Barbados Labour Party”.
“I think in the two first marches it was a bit appalling that the BLP was not able to even mobilize its base, because if you think of the 30 constituencies by how ever many members, they really should have had more people on the street in the two first attempts.
In this third attempt, I think they were able to mobilize their base and they worked very hard at it,” she said, explaining that “there are a number of individuals who got telephone calls, even one of our candidates got a call about coming to the march.
“So the BLP really did put a lot of effort, a lot of money, into ensuring that it got its base out and I think it managed on this occasion to get its base out, which I think is excellent.”
However, Eastmond said the party needed to acknowledge that there were several Barbadians who came out yesterday to march but who had said quite pointedly, ‘we are not here to support the Barbados Labour Party, we are here to say that we are not happy with the various downgrades, we’re not happy with the debt situation, we’re not happy with the lack of growth etc.’
Also reacting to yesterday’s BLP-led event, which the ruling DLP has dismissed as “a reflection of how money can influence an election”, Phillips said his party was in the business of providing solutions to the myriad of problems plaguing the country.
“We have not asked people to come out and march because the others can do that. So the BLP has come and they’ve asked people to march and they’ve marched. And I encourage people, ‘go and march, just do not vote for them’.
“The gravest error they could make is to go and vote for them,” he said.
“We’ve heard our politicians telling us we’re doing well, but it’s easy to say that when you’re spending other people’s money. But now the IMF [International Monetary Fund] is giving the report card and they’re saying that we’re doing abysmally bad,” the Solutions Barbados leader said.
Just last week, the island suffered two downgrades at the hands of Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s which have expressed concern about the island’s ballooning debt of 111 per cent of Gross Domestic Product and its falling international reserves, which plummeted below the recommended 12-weeks of cover to less than $700 million last December. The international ratings agencies also warned that the situation not only poses a threat to the stability of the Barbados currency — which currently trades two to one against the United States dollar — but that it could put the island at high risk of debt default.
Phillips suggested that both the ruling DLP and the Opposition BLP were to blame for current poor state of the country’s economy.
“We published our solutions about two years ago and we said, ‘BLP adopt these solutions’ and they were not done. I said, ‘DLP do the same’ and they haven’t done it. Almost two years have gone by [and] they have not adopted any solutions or even discussed them with us,” he lamented.