Barbados is just over six months away from the next constitutionally due general election and the political climate is heating up with talk of gutter politics assuming prominence.
Addressing a ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) City branch meeting at the Wesley Hall Junior School on Sunday, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler accused Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) members and supporters of putting out fake news about him and Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley because they are both regarded as difficult to remove from office.
“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,” he said, adding, “this is a ‘Get Chris campaign’”.
Without identifying any specific item of false news, though, Sinckler said, “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 … in Barbados … trying their best to link me and other members of the Democratic Labour Party to criminal activities.”.
But some of our online readers weren’t buying the minister’s claims. “Don’t blame the BLP for the smear attacks. These stories, if any, have been circulating for a long time …. ,” one reader wrote.
“I think it is just careless scandal. I would love my income tax returns and a pay rise and a better economical standard of living but I truly believe that people will go to almost dirty ground level to maliciously confuse the electorate. I do not believe any of the hype. Who ever the electorate decides,” another reader commented.
One of the many persons who commented said that a smear campaign was nothing new in politics. “That is how it goes in high stakes politics. I, as a normal citizen, experience this everyday. People tell lies on me all of the time- usually out of their insecurity. My point is, these things will happen, and have always happened. Toughen up, Chris, and yes, things will get much worse”
Meanwhile, at another DLP branch meeting, party stalwart Derek Alleyne signaled that the DLP was prepared to go into the gutter, if necessary, in order to secure a third straight term in office.
The Director of the Urban Development Commission 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 BLP.
“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”.
Some online readers took issue with Alleyne’s statement.
“I am convinced that this government (DLP) thinks very little of the people of this country. They believe that Bajans are a bunch of illiterates. That type of gutter politics might have worked years ago, but I doubt it will work this time,” one person wrote.
“After the suffering the people in this country have endured, all the advice that has been given to this government to help revive this country by intelligent people and you two fools feel that you can come with your nonsense about people and morals and that will win an election.”
Another suggested there was no need for that kind of politics.
“Whatever happened to standing on your record of achievements? I don’t think the nation needs entertainment and scandal at a serious a time as elections. It speaks volumes about how the electorate is seen by the political practitioners … looks like the much vaunted free education was for naught, cause clearly these folks think people are stupid.”
However, it seems the gutter politics has started with an attack on Barbados Workers Union (BWU) general secretary Toni Moore by Sinckler at the same branch meeting.
Objecting to statements attributed to Moore regarding concessions for North American retailer Cost U Less, he said: “The Government of Barbados gave the general secretary and the Barbados Workers’ Union tax concessions on a Mercedes Benz. Am I to assume that the reason why she is behaving the way she is behaving is because she feels empowered, if you take it to a logical conclusion?” Sinckler said..
However, in a fiery response yesterday following the island’s latest credit rating downgrade by Standard and Poor’s — the 20th since 2009, Moore said: “I would wish that the Minister of Finance spends less time drawing a connection between our $100,000 vehicle and the near millions [of dollars] that Cost-U-Less has been able to save as a result of the concessions given to them. He also needs to spend more time updating the country on the recent downgrade and the country’s economic situation.”