Government minister Donville Inniss has suggested that those within the governing Democratic Labour Party (DLP) who believe the next general election will be easy must be “smoking something”.
The openly critical Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development last night told a meeting of the DLP St Peter branch that “our party is going to have one hell of a challenging time in the next general election.
“That is the reality that I face at this point in time, and anybody else who is going to tell you it is going to be a walk in the park must be smoking something that they should not be smoking,” he told the small gathering at St Albans Training Centre, Mile & A Quarter.
Even while imploring the faithful not to “throw your arms in the air and say there is nothing you can do”, Inniss made it clear he had no illusions about the DLP’s chances in the election due next year.
He said there was disquiet among voters and the DLP would “pay a heavy price at the polls” if it chose to ignore the signs.
Pointing to the success of the recent March of Disgust organized by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party, Inniss said it was disconcerting to see a large number of people who had supported the DLP in the past joining the protest.
“I can tell you I do not bury my head in the sand. There is a disquiet in this society with us as a Government. When I said recently that I am not ignoring the march which was staged by the Barbados Labour Party on Saturday, March 11, I meant it, and I will say it again. When I looked at the clips of the march I saw people marching who five years ago marched with the DLP. I have to ask myself why are they marching against us and what can we do to get them back on our side because every vote counts. It may not be that the people want to go with Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, it may be that they want to walk away from us. If that is the reality let us do something about it now. We cannot postpone that. If we do not face reality we are going to fool ourselves and then we are going to pay a heavy price at the polls.”
The Member of Parliament for St James South has, in the past, been critical of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s leadership style, particularly Stuart’s reluctance to communicate with Barbadians.
And he recently stated he would be happy to take over as DLP leader, although he would not say whether he was prepared to push Stuart or wait for the Prime Minister to jump.
Inniss last night returned to the subject of communication, telling those present he had often encouraged both Stuart and DLP General Secretary George Pilgrim to engage in frank discussions with the people.
“We still have a strong base in Barbados, but I am afraid that if we do not become more engaging as a political party that base is going to be eroded and then it is going to take a long time before we get back that base again. These are no ordinary times and these . . . are times when our party must engage in introspection and revisit its importance to the national economic and political development. I am satisfied that at the end of the day we will emerge as a much stronger party with this conversation,” Inniss explained.
Inniss also complained about the pace at which the party with progressing with the selection of its slate of candidates for the election, contending that the process had been dragging on for too long.
He made specific reference to St Peter, stating: “Today, I should be here at the St Peter branch sitting next to the DLP’s confirmed candidate for St Peter. It takes quite a while to work a constituency, to knock on doors. I have been a member of parliament for two terms and I cannot tell you that I know everybody in St James South. I cannot tell you that I am aware of the issues of every constituent in St James South.”
As a result, he suggested that the party should urgently identify its full slate and not wait until the annual conference in August.