Having made it through by a somewhat comfortable 400 vote margin in the 2013 general election, Member of Parliament for St Philip South Adriel Braithwaite appears to have a tougher battle on his hands to retain the seat when Prime Minister Freundel Stuart finally rings the election bell.
Brathwaite polled 3,514 votes in the election to 3,114 by Anthony Wood of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to help the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) secure a narrow victory.
But with the country mired in economic turmoil, voters in the constituency appear ready to rebel against the ruling party, catching Brathwaite in the potentially troublesome winds.
“I have nothing to do ever again with the DLP. I can’t have faith in you when you say no layoffs and then lay off thousands of civil servants,” said a longtime DLP supporter at Oldbury Gardens who wanted to be called George Clarke, although he made it clear it was not his real name.
“I never favoured the BLP, but they got my vote this time. I am very distraught with the DLP for the things they have done to this country.”
The state of the economy was brought up again and again, as many of the constituents struggling to make ends meet seemed bent on punishing the representative.
“I am voting again. I know who will get my vote . . . . I would not say who, but what I will say is that the measures in the Budget will send Barbados further down. We are worse off than we were 20 years ago,” another Oldbury Gardens resident, who called himself The Son of a Thousand Fathers told Barbados TODAY in a random survey of the Pulse of the People.
“I find when the BLP was in power it was better. Nothing is happening in this constituency under this Government,” added another resident who did not want to be identified, but made it clear that “I am not voting though”.
For some Brathwaite backers, like another Oldbury Gardens resident who did not wish to be identified, it was a matter of trust.
Clearly, she would rather vote for him again, but she simply did not have the zeal.
“I have not made up my mind. It is a question of trust. I can’t trust the one [party] which is in and I don’t know if I can trust the one to come. I voted Adriel Brathwaite the last time and he was not so good. I have not seen him since the last poll . . . only on TV,” complained the St Philip South constituent.
Brathwaite will have a different opponent next time around, with Wood making way for travel agency owner Indar Weir.
But Weir has tasted defeat before, having been virtually pulverized by the DLP’s Michael Lashley in St Philip North in 2013, losing by 2,179 votes in an election in which he polled 1,974 votes to 4,053 by Lashley.
Yet the BLP candidate is counting on a wave of backlash against the DLP, along with the much closer race between Brathwaite and Wood, to take him across the line in the next poll.
Already he can virtually depend on a woman from Gemswick who preferred to be called Concerned Resident.
“Not Brathwaite,” she told Barbados TODAY when asked about her preference. “Nobody in my house [three people] voting for Brathwaite. If anything, it would be Indar Weir.”
Brathwaite will also have a tough time convincing people like the St Martins voter who called himself The Curious One to give him another chance.
Liming with some of his friends, the man said the ruling party simply did not deserve to be re-elected.
“The DLP has not done enough to deserve a third term. I favoured the DLP the last election. I came up being a DLP, but Mia is the strongest leader in Barbados now. Things will flow faster under Mia and she is the most trustworthy,” he said in reference to the BLP leader Mia Mottley.
“I have lost confidence in this Government. Too many dark shadows and veiled things going on behind the scenes and only a few white powers getting a portion of the cake. The Government has not been able to restore confidence in investors. People need a change,” he insisted.
The sentiments of a woman in a wheelchair were similar, albeit terse, simple and blunt.
“We want this Government to go. I going for the BLP,” said the woman who called herself Valerie.
Of course, it was not all gloom for Brathwaite, who will see himself as holding the advantage as the sitting parliamentarian, despite the fact that a substantial number of his backers have placed themselves in the ‘undecided’ column.
And with the DLP still commanding quite some support in the constituency despite the state of the economy, the Attorney General must think he can cross the finish line, even if he appears to be wobbling.
“I am a DLP man. I don’t care about Brathwaite, but I am a DLP man. I never voted BLP,” said a St Martin voter who wanted to be called Desmond.
And in Rices, where support for the Dees seemed strongest, one woman who called herself Granny reflected the views of several of her neighbours when she said she was a die-hard DLP supporter and she would stick with the Dems.
There was also confessed Brathwaite faithful, Lionel, who appeared unwilling to bet on his candidate, but was prepared to look at the bigger picture.
“Each side [DLP and BLP] will be certain of ten seats . . . and the other candidates will have to scramble to the end,” he predicted.