To figure out the St Michael South East constituency is to solve the Rubik’s Cube puzzle. It can be done, but it is not easy.
Having won the seat of 8,327 registered voters by polling a mere 2,402 votes and by a ten vote margin in the 2013 general election, the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) incumbent Santia Bradshaw, an attorney-at-law, knows she barely made it across the finishing line.
Her opponent then was Patrick Tannis, a banker. However, virtually everyone believes her next opponent, Rodney Grant, a product of Regent Hill, The Pine, will be more formidable.
In any other election, many suggested, this could be an easy win for Grant.
But these are no ordinary times. He is running for a party which has 11 per cent support, according to the most recent opinion poll, and a leader, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who is even more unpopular.
At the same time, there are those, like a woman from Parkinson Field who said St Michael South East was used to doing its own thing, voting for the individual and not for the party, as was the case with Hamilton Hammie Lah Lashley.
Therefore, the woman, who did not want to be identified, but who emphatically stated she was “a Rodney Grant woman”, wants the best of both worlds.
She said she would vote for Grant, even though she wants BLP Leader Mia Mottley as Prime Minister.
“If I had to see my way I would put in Mia. I don’t care what they say . . . That ain’t got nothing to do with me. Let the woman come and do she job, and let she uplift Barbados,” she told Barbados TODAY which visited the constituency yesterday to check The Pulse of The People.
“I for Mia, but Santia can’t get in. I for Rodney Grant. Up here doan got nothing to do with A, B, C or D. We up here in St Michael South East does vote for people. You remember Hammie Lah? You remember when Hammie Lah swing pun de left, de people ain’t went wid he? He swing pun de right, de people ain’t went wid he? Because that is how the people up is. We are not about party because we ain’t care who party get in because at the end of the day somebody gotta run the country.
“We are about people and Rodney Grant is about the people. He is a community man and he from The Pine and I voting for he. He . . .[will] get in but Freundel government . . . [will] get out. Plain in English, that is how I moving. I would hope that he [Stuart] lose he seat. I would like the prime minister lose he seat. Every day I does wish it,” she said.
Like the Rock Close resident who described the upcoming battle for the seat as “massive”, the uncertainty was palpable all over, even in Grant’s home district of Regent Hill.
One woman who gave her name as Grace said unlike the many undecided voters, she intended to cast her ballot on Election Day.
Yet, it was difficult to tell which of the two candidates could count on her support. “If you want things to change you have to vote. You might not vote and my one vote might put the person you want in, out and [vice versa],” she explained, adding it was difficult to choose between the two candidates.
“Rodney is like Hammie, so [Santia] . . . gotta do something that could pull she out cause . . . he ain’t . . . [going to] lose.”
The sentiments were similar in Golden Rock where O’Neil Trotman was hanging out with friends, one of them a woman who felt it was a brilliant strategy by the DLP to choose Grant as its candidate.
“It will come down to a person’s personal vote. It is going to be ticklish cause you have an outsider that come from nowhere and do so much for us and then you have some person who born and bred here and now want to represent us,” she said.
“I think it was well thought out [by the DLP] to put him as some person to run against her.”
One man said he had been living in the constituency since 1969 and found the situation nothing short of interesting.
“Rodney is gonna get a lot of votes in The Pine but Santia is going to get a lot of votes outside of The Pine. No BLP candidate has ever won South East in The Pine. They have always do well on the outskirts in the Mount Friendship, up South District and so on,” the retiree said.
Despite the uncertainty, it was clear the constituents had a soft spot for Grant because he is from the area.
This was evident among a group of men at Parkinson Field who were chilling under a shed, some playing cards.
They complained that politicians did not care about them or their votes, some stressing that Lashley was the only one who ever cared.
Still, there was a connection with Grant.
“The only body that really use to take care oh we out there in the whole constituency was Hammie and that was years . . . years now. Since then nobody doan check for we.
“Wid Rodney now . . . we could reason wid he . . . we know he capabilities too . . . but still, he ain’t no Santia, you get what I mean? [But] he could get my vote . . . I think he would get majority of people out here vote,” one man said.
While Grant attracted most of the attention, there were those who felt Bradshaw had been spending too little time among them.
In fact, one resident of Parkinson Field said “she only running on she father’s name”.
But she had her supporters, like the man who gave his name as Brambles, who was sure “Rodney Grant will never get in”.
“I telling you. Remember I tell you so!” Brambles said.
Still, at the end of the day, figuring out what voters would do remained very much like the Rubik’s Cube.
Trotman, a BLP backer, admitted Grant would be a formidable opponent, although he did not speculate on the result in the constituency.
Instead, he was confident Stuart and the DLP would be voted out.
“I don’t see them getting a third [term]. I don’t see the Democratic Labour Party winning.
“Now on the issue of leadership we have to ask if the people of Barbados ready for a woman prime minister . . . . I think the people of Barbados are ready for Mia Mottley,” he declared. firstname.lastname@example.org