As Speaker of the House of Assembly Michael Carrington may be one of the most powerful men in Barbados.
However, in the St Michael West constituency, which he has been representing for close to ten years now, his grip appears to be weakening, and voters seem ready to rule against him.
There were signs of his declining power way back in 2013 when his margin of victory over his opponent, Reverend Joseph Atherley of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), was cut by more than half, to just 125 votes, down from 316 in 2008 when he was first elected as part of the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) winning team.
It was Atherley, who had represented the constituency since 1999, whom Carrington deposed in 2008 when the DLP swept the then Owen Arthur-led BLP from office.
Now the winds appear to be blowing in Atherley’s favour once again, according to a Pulse of the People random survey conducted by Barbados TODAY in the constituency, with few voters willing to bet on the incumbent.
There was little enthusiasm for Carrington, even from people such as a Richmond Gap man who gave his name only as Eric, who had supported the DLP politician in the last two elections simply because Carrington was the friend of a relative.
However, Eric said he was not moved to vote again, meaning the incumbent has one fewer vote to count as his own.
“I gine tell you the truth right now, right? I done voting cause I not voting for none of the two candidates. I voted for Michael Carrington through my nephew, he is a lawyer and the two of them are friends. All the time that I voted . . .I voted twice . . . I voted Michael Carrington through my family, but I ain’t voting for Michael Carrington or nobody again, cause none of them ain’t no help to me,” Eric declared while hanging out at a shop with his friend who would not declare his hand.
A woman who recently graduated from the Barbados Community College as a nurse, and who gave her name only as Nicole, also lacked enthusiasm, saying she saw little hope under either the DLP or the BLP, particularly “for people like myself that live in this community that looking to elevate”.
However, it is Carrington’s supposed virtual absence from the constituency, along with the connection that Atherley appears to make with the people, that has eroded voters’ confidence in the Government legislator.
Virtually everyone, including Richmond Gap resident Ronald Clinton, complained to Barbados TODAY that Carrington had become an invisible man, while Atherley sticks with them through and through.
“[I voting] Atherley . . . cause I see him most. That is the body we see out here the most,” Clinton said matter-of-factly.
Liming on the block in the same area were two young men who asked to be called Voice of the Youth, and who completed each other’s thoughts.
Speaking about their representative was like putting on an act, the two performing a duet.
“Atherley . . . is the more better man in the neighbourhood . . . .He more deal with the people,” both young constituents said in a call-and-response fashion.
“The other man [Carrington] he is a strange man. We never see him and he office . . . [is nearby] and Atherley [office] all cross there and you see Atherley all the time,” they added.
One of the two delivered a line about not caring about politics “or nutten so. I does deal with who does deal wid we, straight”, and his buddy chimed in as if rehearsed, stating, “you know like how a man does deal wid yuh.
“Dis man was in power nearly ten years and we can’t tell you nothing ‘bout this man,” they said, while adding that Atherley had been working closely with the community, finds “little jobs” for the youths, mingles with the men, and “finds out wuh gine on wid we and mek sure we good”.
The complaints were similar in Westbury Road where a significant number of people, many of whom had been DLP voters, felt uncertain.
“Carrington doesn’t worry with me no more,” said a woman who wanted to remain anonymous.
“Atherley . . . seem more interested in the constituency. [We] don’t see Carrington for all the time he was in power. Atherley did a lot for people out here,” Westbury Road resident Olivia Millar said.
Her friend, a woman who wanted to be referred to simply as Judy, was even more emphatic that Carrington did not stand a chance, even though she refused to declare her allegiance.
“He [Carrington] ain’t getting back in this time . . . not the way people talking. I voted for Carrington last time . . . but if you representing somebody, you should be there for them . . .you should see them,” the 51-year-old Judy explained.
The indifference toward the incumbent was also present in Country Road, where Marguerite Bryan, a staunch DLP supporter in the past, said she had had enough of the parliamentary representative.
“I never see Carrington out here yet. I was a Dee, but I switching to Atherley,” Marguerite said.
The husband and wife team of Jay and Jacklyn Maynard seemed determined to punish Carrington for the administration’s failings, with Jay making it clear it was time for the DLP Government to go.
“I know that from the last few years what has been happening, you really don’t get anything done. It is a lot of stress, so I figure it is time for change to see what happens when the next person comes in . . . .So [I supporting] the BLP,” the former psychiatric nurse turned farmer said.
“I will support the BLP because we are close to Mia [Mottley]. I think the DLP not doing much for the surroundings [constituency]. Jobs hard to come by,” Jacklyn added.
There were few willing to confidently state their support for the Speaker. However, if everyone who voted for him in the past were to abandon him, Carrington can continue to count on Pearline Eastmond of Richmond Gap.
“I belong to Carrington. I am a DLP right through. You could see dat,” Eastmond said.