There seems little doubt that the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) will continue its dominance in the rural constituency of St James North, if history, along with a random Pulse of the People survey by Barbados TODAY, is anything to go by.
During a two-and-a-half hour visit to the constituency yesterday, it seemed taboo to even mention the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
On the other hand, first-time parliamentarian Edmund Hinkson and the BLP commanded the support of a large section of the constituency.
A little more than half of the respondents said they would vote for Hinkson, who was first elected in 2013 when he defeated the DLP’s Harry Husbands by 2,558 to 2,124, a margin of 434 votes.
Until then, Hinkson’s BLP predecessor Rawle Eastmond had maintained a firm grip on that riding, having represented it from 1991 until he was replaced by Hinkson in 2013.
St James North has been BLP territory every election except once, when it was won by Joe Payne of the DLP in 1986.
Prior to 2013, another Husbands, Austin (no relation to Harry), twice took the plunge on behalf of the DLP – in 2003 and 2008 – and twice he came up short.
Harry will try again in the next election, due by the middle of 2018, but for Cuthbert Henry, it matters not which Husbands turns up, the result will be the same. “[Is] Hinkson [running] for the Barbados Labour Party . . . ? Well I decide to vote for the Barbados Labour Party,” Henry, a pensioner, said while standing outside John Moore’s Bar in Weston.
Sitting under a shed at a bus stop on the opposite side of the road, Alphonza Simpson, another pensioner, was to the point. “Hinkson. Hinkson,” an animated Simpson said. “He is my partner . . . I like him.”
It was the same with another man who referred to himself simply as Adrian from Weston.
“Hinkson is my man . . . he is a good man,” Adrian said.
While no one gave a single thought to the DLP, a fair share of residents, such as a woman who only wanted to be identified as Gwen, cared little about politics.
“It don’t make no difference to me. I live and let live,” she said when asked who she intended to support in the election.
There was also the Weston resident who supported the BLP in the last poll, but did not plan to do so the next time round.
However, instead of switching allegiance to the DLP, the woman, who preferred anonymity, said she would stay home on Election Day.
“It is all the same thing all the time,” she said.
And there was the businessman who did not want to reveal his political interest, and sought to play it safe.
“Everybody is my friend. I am a businessman. Whoever get in I am with them,” he noted.
At Carlton, Robert Charmont was leaving home just as Barbados TODAY was approaching.
Asked who would get his vote, he gave the impression that he had no clue.
“That is a hard one to choose ,” Charmont said initially, but after pausing for a few seconds he declared: “But I would vote BLP.”
There was no such hesitation from a woman who seemed to be the spokesperson for an organized group of constituents backing Hinkson.
She proudly announced that she and “all the people up in here [her immediate area] belong to Hinkson”, while stressing that their Member of Parliament was a true representative operating at a higher level than Eastmond, his predecessor.
“He is in my opinion what I would consider a true gentleman in terms of representation. He is more advanced than his predecessor,” the middle-aged woman said.
She told Barbados TODAY that Hinkson had fully backed a suggestion by the group of constituents for the establishment of a disaster relief fund for residents, but had made it clear he did not want to be in charge.
She also said he had a database of all his constituents and calls them on their birthday, a disclosure that was confirmed by a young man in another area of the constituency.
His popularity notwithstanding, Hinkson will have to placate Arden Richards and his close friend Grafton Goodridge, two elderly men who were particularly upset that assistance was not forthcoming to rescue them from their dilapidated homes. Otherwise, they suggested, he would not get their votes.
Over in The Garden, all but two of the respondents pronounced their approval of the BLP parliamentary representative.
David Barnes, Ruby Mayers and Karen Haynes, along with three young men on the block who called themselves Mr Prince, Bard and Mauby, said they were in Hinkson’s corner all the way.
Not so vocal was a father of four and grandfather of 11, who did not give his name, nor would he say who would get his vote, even though he gave a strong hint.
“This Government is not doing anything for the young people,” he said.
Such is the challenge that Husbands faces, that the only person who admitted to having voted for the DLP in the past, a man who gave his name only as Rupert, now had second thoughts about the ruling party.
Rupert said he was undecided, and “I waiting to see how things going”.