The hot topic of discussion among online readers this week was the latest CADRES public opinion poll, measuring the approval ratings of the various holders and contenders for public office in the run-up to the next Barbados general election, constitutionally less than a year away.
The Peter Wickham-supervised poll, published in the last issue of the Sunday Sun, showed that the ratings of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, at 11 per cent and eight per cent respectively, had sunk to an all-time low.
On the other hand, the record 52 per cent approval of Opposition Leader Mia Mottley, and 51 per cent for her Barbados Labour Party (BLP) suggested that if the general election were held now, they would easily form the island’s next government.
One reader commented: “We have never seen a poll like this in the history of polling in Barbados, period, no government has ever been so unpopular; no opposition so popular; no Prime Minister in single digits; no Opposition Leader above 50 per cent; no desire for change at such a stratospheric level (71 per cent). This, though, is just a snap shot of a moment on time. Things can change and the BLP has to keep working.”
Another reader cautioned the Opposition not to get complacent. “The BLP was supposed to win big the last time too. So much so that Freundel talked like he didn’t have a victory speech prepared. Polls are flawed, inaccurate and irrelevant in a society like Barbados. The party who gets their supporters to come out and vote usually wins. I always heard that there are more DEMS than Bees in Barbados.”
It also seems the poll has ruffled feathers in the ruling party. DLP stalwart, Robert “Bobby” Morris, reacted by saying it should not be taken seriously because it was not scientific.
“I believe that the districts that were chosen were strategically chosen to get a result. It is nonsensical to say that Stuart can only get eight per cent of support of respondents. The poll does not touch base with reality at any point at all,” the former Member of Parliament for Christ Church East Central and current CARICOM ambassador said.
However, his response drew a strong reaction from the pollster, Peter Wickham. An upset Wickham told Barbados TODAY Morris had behaved like a “common yard-fowl” and he found Morris’ comment “both offensive and disturbing”, bearing in mind that he had always seen Morris as one of the superior intellects in the DLP.
Wickham also defended his polling method, saying it had been used successfully by CADRES over the last 20 years, and both major political parties were in receipt of the specific polling divisions used. “I would therefore challenge Morris to identify the specific polling districts that we used that were biased. If he is unable to do so, he should do the decent thing and apologize for attempting to sully the professional reputation of CADRES,” Wickham said.
Also annoyed at Morris’ statement, one reader challenged him to press for the call of the real poll. “Well, if you Mr Morris don’t believe the poll, tell your prime minister call election in August to prove your point. That is the only way you will know.” Morris was the DLP’s campaign manager for the 2013 general election.
Another reader asked why the DLP wanted things in their favour at all times and knocked the Prime Minister for his leadership style. “The man is telling the truth. What you Morris should do is to carry out your own poll if you don’t believe Wickham poll. The Prime Minister is too laid back. He doesn’t address certain issues fast enough. A leader is supposed to be up front at all times, not sitting in the back seat hoping for things to happen.”
Another reader came to the defense of Wickham. “Peter is respected throughout the region and had he produced a poll that favoured these clowns, they would have been singing his praises. Any intelligent person would heap scorn on the ignorance from Judas. How would Peter know where to go and select persons specifically sympathetic to the BLP in order to come up with such a poll?”
The reader, in the same breath, gave Morris a tongue lashing over his performance in the role of CARICOM Ambassador. “We have had not one report from him on any progress on anything, not even the so-called fishing agreement [with Trinidad and Tobago] that both he and [Dennis] Kellman [his predecessor as CARICOM Ambassador] were supposed to get.”