The governing Democratic Labour Party (DLP) will have a difficult time reversing its losses in St Peter, even though the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) will be fielding a new candidate come the next general election, according to voters in the constituency.
Hotel executive Colin Jordan, the heir apparent even before former Prime Minister Owen Arthur announced he would retire from elective politics at the end of this parliamentary term, is expected to carry the seat for the BLP, which polled 3,665 votes in the 2013 general election, to 1,683 by the DLP Haynesley Benn.
Several voters, including those who do not support the Opposition, have deemed St Peter BLP country, and do not see a way for the DLP – which is yet to name a candidate – to take the seat.
“I think we will lose the St Peter seat because Barbadians will support Colin Jordan. If Haynesley Benn was here, he would give Colin a run,” a retired teacher of Rose Hill, who wanted to be referred to only as Marcia, told Barbados TODAY during a four-hour Pulse of the People tour of the parish.
“I am [for] party more than person, [but] this is BLP country,” she stressed.
Both major parties are expected to field new candidates for the election, with Benn having been posted to Canada as consul general and Arthur who is due to retire. He has served 33 years – all but the last three as a member of the BLP.
However, despite grooming Jordan and openly pledging his support for the new BLP man, even after he had left the party he had led through three consecutive terms in Government to become an Independent, Arthur’s shadow continues to hover over the constituency, with political observers predicting he might run again.
If he does it could complicate matters for Jordan – who had deputized for Arthur on many an occasion while the former Prime Minister was preparing him to take over – because the former BLP leader has the potential to take votes from his old party.
“If not Owen, nobody else can get my vote,” said a Rose Hill resident and mother-of-four who preferred to be called Angela.
At the same time, Grantley Belgrave of Boscobel said he would support Jordan only if Arthur were not running.
Yet, the former BLP leader had his detractors, such as Euclid O’Neal of Rose Hill, who complained that “he pull out and ain’t even tell the people nutten” – a clear reference to Arthur’s decision to quit the BLP and become an Independent.
In an August 2014 interview with Barbados TODAY, Arthur had said he would be a “hypocrite” not to support Jordan, with whom he had maintained a close relationship, adding he was confident St Peter would remain a BLP stronghold.
This appeared to hold true today, as most of the people with whom Barbados TODAY spoke pledged their allegiance to Jordan.
“I would like Colin to get through. I would support him,” O’Neal stressed.
“I backing Colin Jordan all the way,” added a voter who called herself Miss Griffith.
But it was not all rosy in Rose Hill for the BLP hopeful, as Michael Straker made it clear, “I sticking with the Dees.”
The support was even more overwhelming in Maynards, where tertiary school student Shakila Belgrave declared she was backing Jordan, who she described as “a very nice gentleman”, while her younger sister Shanika, who stood behind the wrought iron bars of the family shop, said: “I feel he would do a lot for this community. . . I would support him.”
Neighbour Tia Morris has been a longstanding supporter of the BLP, and she said this would not change, even though she had not really met the pretenders to the seat.
“I am a Bee . . . so I would support who the Bees send. But that also depends on . . . [what] he could do though. I am on Facebook and social media and I don’t see them [the candidates],” Morris noted.
The sentiments were similar in Six Men’s where a man who called himself Mr No Name said: “I support Colin because Owen not coming back.”
However, it was in Six Men’s that the highest level of apathy was found, with a number of constituents, including four young men relaxing on the “block” saying they were disenfranchised because the politicians did not care about the poor.
Still, at least one said he would go to the polls because “these people want voting out”.
Greg Lowe, who moved into Maynards about a year ago and had sought a job through Arthur’s constituency office without success also could not decide who would get his vote.
“Right now I would say that they got to come through [campaign in the area] so that you would know whom you would got to go an put your X to,” Lowe told Barbados TODAY, expressing a sentiment shared by Tia Payne of Boscobel.
It was also clear that the DLP’s tardiness in naming a candidate was not helping the ruling party.
Former police officer Dave Cumberbatch has been tipped to contest the seat on the DLP ticket, but uncertainty continues to prevail, making it difficult for Cumberbatch to attract any support.
“I know Dave Cumberbatch . . . he was a police [officer] like me, but I don’t see him,” a retired lawman who called himself Slappy Ward said, even as he said he was not sure he would vote, “ but if I was going to vote, I would support Colin”.
Former teacher Marcia, who Barbados TODAY met in Rose Hill, said she was a supporter of a party, not any individual.
She also does not believe in change simply for the sake of change.
Yet, despite clear hints that she has been a DLP backer, she refused to say who would get her vote next election.
“ . . . . I think the Government will change at the next elections. I will vote, but you wouldn’t know who I am voting for or which party.”
Still, that is a lot more than a Boscobel woman who called herself Erma would commit, as she simply did not care who wins the election.