After the governing Democratic Labour Party (DLP) bypassed its own nomination process earlier this year and dumped Patrick Tannis in favour of Rodney Grant as its candidate in St Michael South East, the jilted Tannis had warned that the party would hear from him at a later date.
Today, five-and-a-half months later, the former DLP caretaker spoke loudly, issuing a terse, but stinging statement on Facebook announcing that he was switching allegiance to the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
“I am going to join the Barbados Labour Party,” was all he said in the post, failing to provide justification for jumping the DLP ship.
However, it seems likely that Tannis, a minister of the church, had not forgiven the ruling party for unceremoniously jettisoning him.
After the party announced in mid-April that it was replacing Tannis, the career banker had told Barbados TODAY that like other Barbadians he had heard about the DLP’s decision via the media.
In the 2013 general election Tannis lost by a mere ten votes to Santia Bradshaw, who recaptured the seat for the BLP after it was vacated by Hamilton Lashley, who had won it for the party in 2008, before crossing the floor to rejoin the ruling DLP.
Tannis was retained as the caretaker. However, with the ruling party’s ratings falling drastically across Barbados, it turned to Grant, a community activist who had stunned both political parties when it was revealed in February last year that he was quitting the BLP to seek the nomination to contest on a DLP ticket.
Tannis today promised to grant an interview to Barbados TODAY, but had a change of heart.
His new political leader, Mia Mottley, also refused to comment on the development, telling Barbados TODAY: “I am not dealing with politics today.”
BLP General Secretary Dr Jerome Walcott could not be reached for a comment.
Barbados TODAY has been informed that Tannis sent a brief note to DLP General Secretary George Pilgrim and the party’s leader, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, informing them of his decision to join the opposition party.
It was not immediately clear if he gave reasons for leaving the DLP, which is struggling to gain voters’ support amid a crushing economic crisis that has resulted in onerous austerity measures, and led yesterday to the 20th downgrade of Barbados since 2009.
When contacted today, Pilgrim said he would not comment in public on the issue of party membership, while Stuart could not be reached since he is off island and scheduled to return home on Saturday.
The DLP described Tannis on its website as a self-made, successful entrepreneur with a strong commitment to St Michael South East.
“He is a born leader and has been representing Barbadian communities all his life,” the ruling party states.
“Patrick Tannis has the right mix of financial and social skills to become an asset to the DLP parliamentary group, to the people of his constituency and to Barbados as a whole. Give this talented mentor and community leader a chance to fully represent the people of St Michael South East,” it adds.
However, having taken away that chance, the ruling party must now contend with the man it promoted as the best person to represent constituents in Parliament.
The former DLP candidate has not said whether he intends to run for the BLP – the opposition party would have to find him another seat, since there was nothing to suggest that the incumbent would step down – or if he were simply content to campaign for Bradshaw.
In any event, the BLP is likely to see Tannis as an asset, after he came close to winning in 2013, and assurances last year by a member of the executive committee of the DLP’s St Michael South East branch that Tannis would have won the nomination had it been put to a vote.