From the look of things, Member of Parliament for St Michael Central Steve Blackett is standing on shaky ground, although his opponent in the next general election, Arthur Holder of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) cannot lay claim to the seat either.
The incumbent, of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP), may have a tough battle overcoming voter apathy as he seeks a third straight term.
Support for Blackett fell dramatically in the last election, which many had predicted he would lose, and Barbados TODAY found nothing to suggest he has recovered any lost ground.
In the 2008 election, the former broadcaster defeated the BLP’s Rudy Grant by 409 votes, polling 2,289 to 1,889 by Grant.
Five years later, and facing a new foe in Holder, the margin shrank to a nailbiting 39 votes. However, Barbados TODAY found out during a visit to test the Pulse of the People, constituents habour a deep distrust of all politicians.
This was made clear by Vernal Yarde of Lenster Road, who was not joking when he said he was “thinking of putting up a sign at the front of my house saying ‘no politicians allowed’”.
Yarde, a 37-year veteran in the prison service, was hesitant at first to come to the door, later explaining he thought it was a politician calling.
Having satisfied himself that it was not, he listed everything he felt was wrong with Blackett.
“The only time I see Steve Blackett is if I walking going down by Howard [Supermarket], going down to go by Abundant Life to go church . . . and that is only when I see his poster [at the front of the constituency office]. I don’t see the person. It isn’t worth it . . . and that is the people I should vote for? Be reasonable,” he said.
“I have been in the prison service for 37 years and the worse time I ever lived in Barbados is now. The representation is poor.”
Many of the voters at Lenster Road, such as the middle-aged woman sitting in her verandah, and a four-member household nearby, said the only certainty was their uncertainty.
Even the woman who preferred to be called Nicole, who clearly was leaning towards the BLP, was not sure if she would vote.
“You get a better break with the Bees . . . everybody knows that. But they both still do the same thing,” she said.
Pressed to declare her hand, Nicole replied: “Well you know, the next toss is the Bees . . . time for change.”
Proprietor Winston Farrell was on the job at his Route 6 Bar with several patrons hanging out inside.
He made it clear all he wanted was effective representation.
“It doesn’t matter who represent me once I get good representation . . . because at the end of the day, you have to work with whoever is in,” Farrell said, prompting one patron to blurt out: “All of dem could go in a hole and be buried.”
Over in Savannah Road, a middle-aged man who gave his name only as Desmond made it clear his interest was in the troubling crime level.
“Crime is really outrageous in this country and all we getting is talk, talk . . . and it gine get worse, cause we ain’t doing nutten about it,” he said.
On the other hand, his neighbour Marcus Charles could not make up his mind.
“Me, my wife and my daughter are undecided. I have to meet the candidates first and listen to them,” Charles told Barbados TODAY.
Sheila Rochester, a physically disabled constituent sat uncomfortably in her wheelchair, as she explained why she was wavering.
“I am undecided. I don’t see anyone. I don’t see Steve Blackett. I voted for Arthur Holder the last time. I went in a taxi to vote for him and Holder doesn’t come around. “I still waiting for a chair from Arthur and Blackett.”
Further along in Savannah Road, Andrew Maynard was at the door of his house carrying out repairs and surrounded by a number of friends.
Unlike so many of his fellow constituents, Maynard had made up his mind and was simply waiting for Election Day.
“The administration that in now, them gine go, for me. They ain’t doing nutten for me. You could get rid uh them. In fact, all 30 I would like to get rid of. All 30 members of the Democratic Labour Party I would like to lose their seats. I ain’t even want them to get back their deposit,” the public officer said.
One of the men in his company, who preferred to remain anonymous, declared his allegiance to the BLP, even though he said he was unlikely to vote.
“I ain’t voting for nobody. Right now, I fed up,” he said.
On the other hand, there was Marvo McIntosh, a staunch DLP supporter whose confidence in the ruling party remained solid.
“I like the ones [party] who represent [Errol] Barrow,” McIntosh said of the first Prime Minister. “That is the DLP, right?”
Over at Prince of Wales Road, the uncertainty was equally palpable, with voters such as Allisa Nurse, who could not make up her mind, Gloria, as she preferred to be called, who “don’t have a clue” who would get her vote, and her neighbour, who wanted to be referred to as Nurse, who was clear that “I ain’t voting for nobody”.
And there was Trevor Harding, an auto body repairman and a longtime supporter of the DLP. He was conflicted over whom to give his vote.
“Right now . . . I don’t know if I am voting. I normally vote Dee . . . [but] I ain’t sure yet,” Harding said.
Perhaps no one summarized it as well as Gloria Broome, a pensioner who in one breath said she would vote, although she would not reveal who had her support, and in another breath stated she would decide on Election Day.
However, there was a hint as to where she was leaning.
“You don’t see Blackett out here. He don’t come . . . out here. He only know the people up Station Hill and Bush Hall, Waterhall and dem places so,” the elderly woman said.