The political gloves are finally off.
And with elections now mere months away, a senior Government official and stalwart of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) last night strongly signalled that the Freundel Stuart administration was prepared to go into the gutter if necessary, in order to secure a third straight term in office.
Addressing a meeting of the DLP’s St Michael Central branch at Bank Hall, St Michael last night, Director of the Urban Development Commission Derek Alleyne not only warned that the next election, which is constitutionally due by the middle of next year, will be the “election of all elections”, but that the ruling party was prepared to fight tooth and nail against the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
In this regard, he further cautioned that the upcoming poll would be fought by the DLP on moral grounds and that “this same sex marriage thing” would be brought up.
“It is going to be an election of elections. Who lives with whom is going to come up, as part of that election campaign,” Alleyne said, while urging party supporters “to get on the right side”.
“Make sure you get your representative of the area at church every Sunday,” he advised, while stressing that “the issues that are going to be raised in this election are going to be major in terms of what happens over the next ten or 15 years” and that “we [the DLP] have to make our reelection sure”.
His comments came less than 24 hours after Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler publicly accused the Mia Mottley led BLP of starting a smear campaign against him and fellow Cabinet minister Michael Lashley, in a desperate bid to win the Government.
Addressing a branch meeting at the Wesley Hall Junior School on Saturday evening, Sinckler charged that BLP members and supporters were putting out “fake news” about him and Lashley because, he said, the two of them were regarded as difficult to defeat.
“There are certain people that they have identified that they feel stand in the way of them getting Government, and I am one of them. So, they have started this campaign against me and Michael Lashley,” Sinckler said, labelling the alleged attack as the “Get Chris campaign”.
Without identifying a specific item of false news, Sinckler was insistent that “they [BLP activists] intend to put out a lot of fake news, nasty, lying information, starting in other places outside of Barbados and migrating into the mainstream social [media] in Barbados . . . trying their best to link me and other members of the Democratic Labour Party to criminal activities”.
The minister of finance also warned that the situation would get worse in the lead up to the election.
“This is not the only thing. They’re going to put out other stuff too . . . .They want to undermine public confidence and trust in people,” he told members of the DLP’s City branch, adding that the Opposition had been in campaign mode since losing the 2008 poll.
Sinckler also warned party faithful to expect unusual tactics as the election draws closer.
“This is going to be easily the nastiest campaign that would ever be fought in Barbados. It can unnerve people when you see the extent to which some of these Labour Party people will go to secure political office,” he said at the time, while citing some election tactics used against Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 United States election campaign, and subsequent “dirty tricks” that were used against her.
“That is the mode of attack which we are beginning to see right here in Barbados . . . and they’ve started,” Sinckler said while recalling that “a couple years ago they put out a video supposedly of me involved in some sexual act with some woman.
“I didn’t pay it much mind as I am not paying this other thing much mind either,” Sinckler said in reference to more recent allegations that have been levelled against him for which he said “the hammer is going to come down” because “this nastiness and this insidiousness has to stop”.
However, based on Alleyne’s comments the DLP is not prepared to be outdone by anyone, not least of all the BLP under Mottley’s leadership, with Minister of the Environment and Drainage Dr Denis Lowe already on record as saying that “I am not about to support any idea that the greatness of the nation is bounded up in any individual who does not regard the importance of motherhood, of family, and of marriage according to the biblical standard.
“We want our boys and our girls to grow up in a society where they are not embarrassed because they live in a house where mum is a woman and dad is a man,” Lowe said back in May.
In support of that position, Alleyne suggested to his audience last night that the next general election was simply too important for “the DLP to lose and it is ours to lose.
“We can lose the next general election if we do not do what we are supposed to do. Not that the opposition is going to win it. The general perception out there is that the Leader of the Opposition, Mia Mottley, is not the kind of person that should lead Barbados. That is not what I am saying, it is what I am hearing being said in the society. I am saying again it is our election to lose, so we have to make sure that we do nothing to make that happen.
“We have to work hard and we have to get on the ground, stay and listen, report; we have to get on the call in programmes and defend [the incumbent St Michael Central representative Steve] Blackett and the Prime Minister,” the DLP stalwart said.
He also took a jab at two local media houses saying that “since the [state-run] Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation runs a programme on Sunday he no longer listens to Getting Down to Brass Tacks [on the privately owned Starcom Network] to be confused by the propaganda”.
He went on to state that he no longer listens to such moderators as David Ellis and Peter Wickham and he advised DLP members and supporters to do the same.
Alleyne was also critical of a suggestion that as Minister of Social Care, Blackett should not lose an election.
“What that person is telling me is that Barbados is a welfare state and that they [members of the electorate] are waiting for people to give them handouts. . . . It is a significant statement about us. What this is saying is that the mandate of the Minister of Social Welfare is to give away things. People are supposed to come with open hands and he is supposed to give them,” he said.
However, Alleyne, a former deputy general secretary of the National Union of Public Workers, warned that Government was not a lime tree that you pick leaves from for them to grow back, while lamenting what he called a new and mendicant attitude to politics and politicians in Barbados.