The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) has dismissed a conclusion by pollster and political scientist Peter Wickham that it would go into the next general election campaign with only four safe seats.
However, General Secretary George Pilgrim did not appear to be brimming with confidence, telling journalists at a press conference at the party’s headquarters on George Street, St Michael that the voters would decide.
Wickham this week told Barbados TODAY the DLP could only count on St Michael North West represented by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler; St John, represented by Mara Thompson; St Philip North held by Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley and St Philip West where the incumbent is Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr David Estwick.
And even then, he said, St John could be vulnerable if reports that Thompson, the widow of late Prime Minister David Thompson, would withdraw from the race were true.
His scientific findings were supported by a random survey of the Pulse of the People in all 30 constituencies by Barbados TODAY, which found that the struggling economy and high taxes had severely – if not mortally – damaged the DLP’s chances of re-election.
While insisting he was not buying the findings of either the Pulse of the People survey, which he said “we didn’t find very scientific”, or Wickham, Pilgrim steered clear of revealing the number of seats which the DLP thought were safe, nor did he volunteer any confidence that the party would be returned to power. Instead, he said the ruling party would place its faith in the Barbadian voter.
“Wickham is free to say what he wants to say. He is a longstanding pollster,” Pilgrim told journalists.
“All of the evidence that we discussed in this very room here suggests otherwise as far as seats that the Democratic Labour Party will lose or will win. I am optimistic that the party and the candidates will report for duty whenever the election is called and ultimately the voters make the decision on who wins the government, not a pollster,” the DLP general secretary stressed,
“So we implore the citizens of Barbados . . . to look carefully upon the policies that will continue to flow from the Democratic Labour Party, the ones that you are being promised from the Opposition and then you have a chance to make that determination. Ultimately it is left to the voters.”
Wickham’s scientific poll in June of this year found that the DLP had only 11 per cent support, a long way behind the 51 per cent enjoyed by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP). Satisfaction with the DLP Government at the time was at 3.3 out of ten compared to 5.3 for the BLP, while 71 per cent of Barbadians said they would like a change of Government, compared with 48 per cent when the Government last changed in 2008.
However, Wickham told Barbados TODAY this week that while the DLP was guaranteed four seats, it did not mean the BLP would take all the remaining ones.
Still, he said the governing party had a lot of work to do if it wanted to win a third straight term.
“The whole central corridor . . . St Michael, Christ Church, St George and what’s not is vulnerable to the Barbados Labour Party largely because of the economic conditions nationally and the way that people are voting. And if you look at the way the seats are stacked, you have a range of seats that are . . . in a ten per cent swing . . . and once you get a ten per cent swing nationally, it is going to cause some problems,” Wickham said.