The constituency of St John has unquestionably been Democratic Labour Party (DLP) “country” for over 50 years.
Going back to the Father of Independence Errol Barrow, the DLP has enjoyed near fanatical support in the eastern parish.
Barrow’s death in 1987 did little to impact the backing the party had received from constituents, as future Prime Minister David Thompson comfortably made the seat his own.
However, the DLP appears to be losing its dominance, as voters express their dissatisfaction with Member of Parliament and Thompson’s widow, Mara.
Barbados TODAY went on a four-hour sun-drenched tour of the rural constituency Friday morning to feel the Pulse of the People, and discovered that several residents who once backed the DLP had withdrawn their support for the parliamentary representative, although there was no clear indication that they would all switch allegiance to the Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
Still, there were the die-hard supporters, who, although clearly unhappy with the quality of representation, the state of roads and an unreliable bus service, insisted they would stick with Mara all the way.
“If things tight, the Government supposed to be brek, it could do so much and no more till they get money. The roads are bad, yes. I admit that they want fixing, and fixing badly. But if the Government brek, aint got nuh money, wuh duh gine do? Blood can’t come from stone,” Janett Holder, a resident of the DLP stronghold of Foster Hall said.
Not comfortable to dwell on the negative, Holder switched the conversation to achievements in the constituency.
And even when she drifted back to the failures, she absolved the Member of Parliament, who has represented the constituency since her husband died in October 2010, less than three years after he was elected Prime Minister.
“The clinic open, Lodge School looking fabulous, so wuh more can she do? The Government might be at fault for neglecting the parish, but I aint know wuh she can do.”
Like fellow parishioners, Rawle White, also of Foster Hall, is crying out for help in the constituency.
In addition to the perennial complaints about the state of the roads and the quality of the bus service, White has had a tough time finding a job.
The hard times notwithstanding, he said his vote would go to Mara Thompson simply because “you know what you got, but you don’t know what you are going to get”.
“Sometimes you might try someone else and they might never do nuh better. So if she dey, yuh could well leh she remain dey, cause yuh doan know,” he told Barbados TODAY.
However, there are those whose past insatiable passion for the DLP has been transformed into an intense desire to see the back of the party.
One of them is a voter who wanted to be referred to simply as Anthony.
In a clear reflection of his disaffection with Thompson’s representation, Anthony told Barbados TODAY she would never get his vote again.
”Down here getting neglect, from Martins Bay to Foster Hall. You get a bus every six hours. Sometimes you don’t get a bus. You get a bus at 10.30 a.m., next time yuh get a bus at
3 o’clock. I would like to see Mara lose her seat here in St John,” he stressed. Norma Moore, who was walking through Foster Hall with Anthony, did not mince words regarding her attitude toward the DLP representative.
But hers is not a vote that Thompson will lose, because she never had it in the first place.
“I never voted Dees [the DLP],” Moore said, adding that she was not about to begin doing so.
Over at Glenburnie, another DLP stronghold, we met Mabel Lewis, at one time a sure vote for the DLP.
But not anymore, although this does not mean she was about to vote for the BLP.
The last time she cast a vote it was for David Thompson.
“I am not voting anymore,” she insisted, a position strongly echoed by Ruby Moore, another Glenburnie resident, who also last voted for the late Prime Minister.
In New Castle, an angry Vindley Goddard, who had been supporting the DLP since 1981, said he had had enough of the party’s broken promises.
In addition, he had a personal grouse, stemming from Government’s failure to have a trench dug to divert water and debris from his home whenever it rains heavily.
“Mara . . . is off my map man, I finish wid Dem. It is nothing personal. They can’t stop my pension . . . I dun vote fuh dem,” Goddard told Barbados TODAY as he pointed to debris that had washed onto his premises and filled up an 18 inch trench that he had dug.
Visits to other areas in the constituency, including, Clifton Hall, Edge Cliff and Gall Hill, revealed a similar situation, with many DLP supporters either undecided or making it clear they would not vote for the party in the next election.
And there was Thelma Skeete of Foster Hall, who vowed that “the only body I will be voting for now is Jesus”.