It appears that Member of Parliament for Christ Church East Central Ronald Jones will have quite some work to do if he is to regain the support of many of the voters who gave him a comfortable 995-vote victory over Desmond Sands of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in the 2013 general election.
Barbados TODAY’s Pulse of the People has found that Jones is losing his grip on his supporters, many of whom want very little, although for some, it is personal.
However, as is the case in Christ Church East, where constituents have a tough time backing Dr Denis Lowe again, Jones’ sliding support should bring little comfort to the BLP, which is putting up a new candidate next election in economist Ryan Straughn.
Of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) supporters who said they were withdrawing their support for the incumbent representative, none promised to switch allegiance to the BLP, which last won the seat in 1999, when Duncan Carter defeated Wendell Callender of the DLP by 3,227 votes to 2,149.
After three terms of Jones, who first won the seat in 2003 by defeating the BLP’s Rudy Grant by 2,524 votes to 2,244, DLP supporters seem quite content to stay home next election.
No one epitomizes that attitude like Juliette Nelson of Kingsland Terrace, who at one time was a sure vote for Jones. But things are different now with Nelson, who seems torn and indifferent.
“I don’t know [if I will vote] . . . I don’t know if it really make a difference, dah is the truth,” she said.
The situation is the same with another DLP faithful, Mrs Elcock of Kingsland Main Road, who is still uncertain if she will cast a ballot when the time comes.
“I aint know yet [who she is voting for] ‘cause when I get there [at the polling booth] I don’t feel suh goodie, goodie. But I hoping to vote fuh somebody,” she said.
Being the parliamentary representative for three straight terms can come with its share of constituent fatigue. However, many of those who spoke to Barbados TODAY said they simply could not keep up with this Jones because this Jones was not keeping in touch with them; while others were unhappy with his level of representation.
There are those like Debra, who do not recall when last they saw their representative – who as Minister of Education has angered many a teacher with his somewhat caustic language – while there are others, such as the woman who wants to be identified only as A Very Unhappy Constituent, who did not even realize that Jones had been their Member of Parliament for 14 years.
“I am not happy with Ronald Jones’ representation . . . . I do not see Jones in my area. He does nothing for the people in Kingsland. I will vote for Straughn, but I want to meet him face-to-face,” Debra said, while A Very Unhappy Constituent who shares her home remarked: “I would not vote for him [Jones]. I prefer not to vote than to vote for him, dat’s de truth. In the eight years that he has been the representative up this side, [we] don’t see him, don’t hear him.
“Dey got a lot of roads up here want fixing. For the longest time dey had a cutout new road dey . . . there is nothing done wid it.”
Sixty-three-year-old Jessica Walcott of Water Street was among the 3,259 people who voted to re-elect Jones in 2013. In fact, she has been a longtime party supporter.
Now she vows not to support anyone in the general election due next year, and her reasons are personal.
Having had her cries for help fall on death ears, Walcott has given up.
“I don’t tink I gine vote for nobody, cause they never, never help me. I remember a time I went to Ronald Jones office and I was crying and nobody never, ever help me. I don’t have no job . . . I does got to work with people who retire to get a dollar and it is very hard dat you going to do these tings and your representative is not helping you . . . .It don’t mek nuh sense. I am 63 now . . . and I am not going to get nuh Government job,” she complained.
Walcott is not the only one to give up on politicians. One Kingsland resident who requested anonymity expressed his feelings in a most profane manner.
“I have nothing to do with . . . [expletives] politicians. DLP or BLP, it gine be de same thing,” he said.
Over on Church Hill Road, Jones once had the support of Grant and his family of four, who now plan to boycott the next election because of their disappointment in the representative.
“I just ain’t interested because all governments do the same thing. I used to support the Dees and I just say, ‘enough is enough’. I don’t care who get in or who don’t get in. And that goes probably for everybody in this house . . . cause everybody in this house say they ain’t going to the polls nuh more,” Grant said.
However, there are those, such as 83-year-old Elsie Mary Gill and Wilma Haynes, both of Water Street, who will stick with Jones no matter what.
As far as Gill is concerned, Jones is there in times of distress, while Haynes is happy to receive her annual Christmas hamper. This is why Jones is assured of their votes on election day.
“Jones belongs tuh me . . . all along the lines is Ronald Jones. Ronald Jones is a man who would help yuh. If you in distress and you talk to him, he will help you,” said Gill, a mother of seven and grandmother of three.
“Round December I does get a food hamper from him . . . I will continue to support him,” added Haynes.
Perhaps the most direct of the constituents was ZR conductor Rommell Waithe, who was in the same house as Mrs Elcock when Barbados TODAY visited.
His logic was simple: “Who ever get me de money, I will work wid them . . . I straight up. . . .Whoever in . . . I still have to go out there and hustle for passengers ‘pon my van, right? So who in or who out, I still got to work. It don’t really matter. If they get me my own van, sure, [I will vote].”