Chairperson of the fledgling United Progressive Party (UPP) Lynette Eastmond has dismissed suggestions that her organization was formed to “spite” any existing political group, charging those who made the claim were “ignorant”.
The former minister in the previous Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration made it clear on Sunday that the formation of the UPP, which was launched this year, had been in the making since 2010.
She refuted the “spite” claims during a public meeting in Eden Lodge where her party launched its St Michael North political candidate, Maria Phillips.
“You would have a set of ignorant people walking around trying to say that you start a party to spite somebody,” Eastmond said. “There are some people in Barbados who are so arrogant that they believe that you would start a political party to spite them.”
Addressing the individuals, whom she did not name, the former BLP Senator said: “This song is not about you. This is something that a number of people have been thinking about for years – how do you make Barbados better; how do you get Barbadians to understand that a democracy is about the participation of all the people, about hearing what all the people think?”
She did, however, refer to the Opposition Barbados Labour Party and the ruling Democratic Labour Party when she charged that the best-qualified and most capable people were being discouraged from entering the political arena.
“There is something that politicians have done to Barbados: It is to make you feel that politics is so dirty – and, indeed, they make it dirty – that you are not to get involved in it . . . . This is what the two political parties have done,” she said.
However, stressing that there was nothing inherently nasty about politics, Eastmond said it was “the people that make it so . . . . because the whole idea is there is supposed to be a political class, and the people in that political class are to protect it for people like them and for their children”.
The UPP chairperson said that as a result of what she sees as protection of the political class, the ordinary people of Barbados who have the right to be political candidates were dissuaded from throwing their hat into the ring.
Eastmond further contended that money was being used to exclude ordinary Barbadians from politics.
“Politics has become the most expensive thing to engage in. That is another way to keep Barbadians out of politics. You make it as expensive as possible,” she argued.
As an example of those expenses, Eastmond said that to stand a chance, a candidate must “plaster” the entire country with posters and billboards.
However, she suggested that spending “millions of dollars to put paper on a pole” was a waste of money.
“By the time the posters start going up you know who the candidate is. So why spend all of that money?” Eastmond questioned, insisting that the real reason candidates were forced to spend was to keep certain people out of politics.