Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth Stephen Lashley knows he will have a difficult time retaining his Christ Church West Central seat when even those who say they are undecided also call for the back of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government.
The task seems even more daunting when it emerges that a large number of those voters have been long-standing DLP supporters.
“That is one question I can’t answer, but I believe whoever running for the Bees [Barbados Labour Party (BLP)] I would like them to come in [win]. That is true,” said a female resident of Vauxhall, the first stop by Barbados TODAY two weeks ago in a random check of the Pulse of the People.
Insisting there was a need for a change of Government, the woman, who did not give her name, added: “It does not make any difference to me [who wins], honestly, ‘cause all are the same. I vote before . . . I’m a strong Dee, but I’m not voting this election. And I asked my daughter not to vote either.”
Having won the seat in 2008 when he first entered Parliament, Lashley again triumphed in 2013, defeating the BLP’s Margo Durant-Callender by a reasonably comfortable margin of 828 votes, polling 2,940 votes to 2,112 by Durant-Callender.
However, as the most recent poll conducted by Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) found, overall support for the DLP is at an all-time low of 11 per cent, and Lashley has apparently been caught in the vortex.
In previous visits to other constituencies, few of the voters who had supported the DLP in the past, and who had declared they were undecided this time around, were rushing to the Mia Mottley-led BLP.
However, it appeared different in Christ Church West Central, where long-time Dems supporters were openly calling for their party to lose, or were stating they would vote for first-time BLP candidate, pharmacist Adrian Forde.
“As I tell somebody, I disenchanted. I don’t even know right now. When the day comes I will just make my decision. What I could tell you is that anytime that these people [DLP] in, I does be smelling s**t,” said a disgruntled Vauxhall voter who gave his name as Freddie.
“I am not going for the Dees again, though. Mia is so very intellectual and she is so fluent. She looks like she might be able to help us . . . .Yeh, I going vote the Bees though,” pledged Yvonne Fenty of Warner’s Park, in a strong message to her husband Wayne, who had told Barbados TODAY he planned to stay home on voting day.
“I am fed up with this Government. Tell the truth. But six is half dozen of the other. The way I feel now, I don’t think I will vote,” Wayne said.
The recent CADRES poll found that 52 per cent of Barbadians would prefer Mottley as Prime Minister, a mammoth 44 per cent difference in support between the BLP leader and Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
Among the potential Mottley supporters is a constituent who called himself The Man That Cares.
He, too, has been supporting the DLP for many years, but has had enough of this Government.
“She [Mottley] is my girl and I would feel good to know she get it [wins the Government]. If I have to vote, it would have to be Mia,” he said.
Of course, there were some Lashley supporters, such as Warner’s Park resident Jeffrey Clarke, who pledged to stick with their man.
Even then, there was some hesitation.
“I will stick with the incumbent [Lashley] until I see concrete . . . . I don’t know. I say that, but hesitantly, because you don’t know what the other party would do,” Clarke said, his sentiments were echoed by a Briar Hall Lashley supporter who wanted to be referred to as Concerned Bajan.
“I don’t know [if] it matters which one [party] you get. Nothing ain’t feel like it going to change any time soon,” he said.
There was much firmer support for the incumbent from spritely 80-year-old grandmother Ellison Grannum, also of Briar Hall, who was selling mangoes at her front door.
However, she was not certain that she would turn out to vote.
“From the time I know myself, the first person [party] I started to vote for was this party [DLP]. The last person I voted for was this party. My mind just turn from voting for any party,” Grannum said.
But after complaining vehemently that Lashley had failed to attend the funeral of her daughter, who had voted for him, the elderly mother of eight said she still intended to support the DLP if she decided to vote again.
“I am not giving Mia my vote,” she said.
Unlike the mood among Lashley supporters, long-time BLP backers such as Marcia Prescott of Vauxhall were enthusiastic about their party.
“I will be 64 years next month . . . . I was a BLP from the time I was 18 years. I will never leave them and all who ‘round me stick with the BLP too,” she declared proudly.
It was the same with a male voter, also of Vauxhall, who spoke on behalf of his three-member household.
“I voting for the Barbados Labour Party . . . all we here,” he gleefully announced.
The mountain that Lashley must climb to retain the seat was put into perspective by a young female voter of Briar Hall, who did not give her name.
She appeared to have been a supporter of the incumbent, but like so many others, she said she simply had enough of the DLP.
“I am very dissatisfied with this administration. I am tired of being led by people that I think are less than intelligent,” the young woman told Barbados TODAY.
“I don’t think you can deny the damage that they have done. You cannot deny it. So they need to go.”