It is not easy finding anyone during a random check in St Philip North who did not vote for Michael Lashley of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in the last general election in 2013.
This not far-fetched since the 4,053 votes he received were higher than that secured by any other candidate in the poll, with only Mara Thompson in St John coming close with 4,025 votes.
Lashley’s margin of victory of 2,079 over Indar Weir of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), who got 1,974, was also greater than the total number of votes secured by 15 other victorious candidates.
However, as Barbados TODAY discovered during a Pulse of the People tour yesterday, it is far less difficult finding people who do not have the desire to cast their ballots in the next election, constitutionally due within the next year.
As was the case with Colin Clarke, who was sitting at a table with friends outside AJ’s Pool Room and Bar in Merricks, most simply no longer trusted politicians, although the poor state of the economy contributed to their decision.
“For me, I supported Michael Lashley before,” Clarke said, but was quick to add, “nope, nope . . . I’m not supporting [anyone]” when asked if he intended to vote for the incumbent in the upcoming election.
Lashley, who will be challenged by the BLP’s Dr Sonia Browne, will likely have sufficient reserves to make it across the finish line whenever Prime Minister Freundel Stuart chooses to ring the bell.
However, the hard times and constituents’ perception – or reality – that their parliamentary representative did not keep promises will make it tougher for him.
“They got things too hard brother; so I can’t support them no more. I ain’t voting no more . . . I aint going down dat road no more,” Clarke emphasized.
Sitting opposite the disgruntled constituent was another former staunch supporter of Lashley and the DLP, who wanted to be referred to as Tookie.
He, too, said he was now hesitant to give his vote to Lashley or any other candidate.
“From the time I know myself, I used to vote for the DLP, but the way how things running now . . . I don’t know,” he said.
“The only body I will vote for is my mother or father. Things too hard . . . . The rich getter richer and the poor, poorer,” another man who called himself Buffy chimed in.
The only woman at the table, who identified herself as EE, said she had become disenchanted with the state of affairs in the country, and that voting for any of the political parties would not change things in any meaningful way.
“I ain’t supporting anybody. I got to work hard if Bee, Dee, NUP, PPP in [power],” she said, the last two being imaginary political parties.
“I got to work hard like anybody else. So it ain’t make no difference who in,” the middle-aged woman said, stressing that she had supported candidates from both major parties at various times in the past, but they were all unreliable.
“In this day and age you can’t depend on no politician or nobody to help you. You got to do what you got to do yourself. You does go to them and ask them a question and they say, ‘we would see what we could do,’ and it is still the same thing . . . back to square one. Nothing don’t change,” the woman said.
Arguably, no one defined the sentiments of the voters like a young woman from another section of Merricks.
The woman, who requested anonymity, said she was Lashley’s cousin and Dr Browne’s patient, but would not support either of them because she was unhappy with both the BLP and the DLP.
“None of the two of them ain’t getting my vote. I’m not satisfied. You get the same thing with [the] Bees, you get the same thing with [the] Dees . . . they ain’t changing, they does just give you a lot of promises. So, I will give them a promise too. No ‘X,’” she assured.
Even those who expect Lashley to hold onto the seat said he would have to do so without their support. Among them was a woman who asked to be called Miss Anonymous, who appealed to the representative to take care of his constituency, beginning with road repairs in Merricks.
“Nobody can’t beat he, that is the truth. But I just ain’t voting no more, hard or soft. Sonia Browne can’t beat he. I telling the truth. I can’t see it happening; but none of the two of them ain’t getting my vote,” she insisted.
Very few of the constituents mentioned the BLP, a clear indication that they were upset with Lashley, not necessarily enamored of the Opposition.
However, a resident of Marley Vale who said he was Lashley’s relative, said it was the BLP that mattered, as he explained why he would shun the sitting Member of Parliament in the next election.
“I will be backing Dr Browne because of the BLP party,” said the man, who referred to himself as Bobby, but stressed it was not his real name.
There was also the shop owner who was unhappy with the quality of representation, and was particularly peeved about dust from an unpaved section of the road, under construction, near his shop.
“As you can see, I am unhappy because of the road. Everybody talking about education this and education that, but they are not talking about the health and the cleanliness. It’s not right to see one little community suffer,” he said.
“I don’t feel happy with the representation. Look at the road. The dust killing we . . . but I will support the person who I feel is best for me . . . not party,” added another Marley Vale resident, who refused to say who he had supported previously, but said he was undecided at present.
Over at Wellhouse a man known only as Observe was relaxing outside a minimart. He had voted for Lashley in the past, he said, but he did not plan to anymore.
“I used to deal with the Dees . . . but I ain’t doing it no more. They ain’t doing nothing for me. I can’t be a fool . . . I would be wasting my time. Right now I brek. I would like a $5 bill to go in there [minimart] right now . . . . I got ‘bout a dollar . . . to buy a pack of bread and go home,” he said.
“But it’s going [to] change,” he added.
Shenell Pooler was on her way home after shopping at the same minimart, but she paused long enough to say she too was undecided.
“I can’t say who I would vote for cause I have never seen Lashley and I don’t know the other candidate,” Pooler said before driving off.
While virtually everyone was rather sedate as they spoke to Barbados TODAY, there was one woman outside the minimart who used some colourful terms to express her feelings towards Lashley.
The women, who did not want to be identified, gave a litany of reasons for not backing the parliamentary representative, none of which was fit to print.