Mere days after Catholic Bishop Jason Gordon called for a clean political campaign void of mudslinging, another Government minister is claiming to be a victim of Opposition smear tactics.
On heels of claims by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler that the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) was planning to put out “a lot of fake news, nasty, lying information” about him and Minister of Transport Michael Lashley, Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley took to social media today, accusing the BLP of being behind a letter circulating via the same media and purporting to be authored by him, in which the writer expressed an interest in representing the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in St John.
In fact, writing in the third person, the Minister of Culture complained that former DLP candidate Neval Greenidge, who is now closely aligned to the Opposition BLP, took “the liberty of posting on his Facebook page, a fake document purporting to be an email from a Stephen Lashley to a Freundel Stuart”.
“The fake email was clearly orchestrated to create the impression that Stephen Lashley is writing to Freundel Stuart in his capacity as President of the DLP expressing his interest in being the party’s candidate for St John and making out a case why ‘Stephen Lashley’ is imminently qualified to be such a candidate,” he posted.
Lashley noted that the email did not include his or Stuart’s proper email addresses, and that Greenidge had taken down the “offending publication” after he sternly objected.
“Just for the record, the email is indeed fake and never originated from Minister Stephen Lashley, who is the sitting Member of Parliament for the constituency of Christ Church West Central,” he wrote, before turning his wrath on the BLP.
“These are clear acts of fraudulent behaviour, which must be condemned, in the strongest possible terms. Is this the extent to which BLP operatives will stoop? In this case, someone was obviously at pains to create a false email with potentially damaging political intent. It is clear that as we near the election season, the BLP operatives will be using the fake news weapon quite often, particularly against sitting DLP MPs in the hope of confusing an unsuspecting electorate.” he added, contending that it was not the first time that Greenidge had misrepresented him.
Barbados TODAY obtained a copy of the one-page note dated October 5, 2017 at 11.53 a.m., with the subject, St John – Strictly Private and Confidential.
The correspondence, which has an informal feel to it, is addressed to Comrade President, and the writer expresses “my desire to be our party’s candidate” for St John in the general election due by the middle of next year.
No mention was made of the fate of the current representative, late Prime Minister David Thompson’s widow, Mara Thompson, who only yesterday said at a church service in memory of her late husband that she had no interest in mudslinging, while urging members of her party to avoid gutter politics.
Speculation surrounds her own political future, with pollster Peter Wickham telling Barbados TODAY last week that her seat could become vulnerable if reports that she did not intend to contest the election were true.
However, in the letter, which does not have a handwritten signature, the writer makes reference to being born in Gall Hill, St John, educated at Lodge School and spending “most of my early life” in the parish.
“My outstanding stewardship as Minister of Government and as the current representative of the constituency of Christ Church West Central provides evidence of my abilities and competencies at both levels.
“I have stoutly defended our great party over the past several years, often in the most trying circumstances. I have been the consummate team player supporting my colleagues and members of the DLP. I believe my background, experience and dedication simply qualifies me to be our party’s standard bearer in St John,” it states, adding that the writer was prepared to discuss further details “at your earliest convenience as I fully appreciate the political sensitivity of this matter”.
It was only last month that Sinckler told a DLP City branch meeting at the Wesley Hall Junior School that “this is going to be easily the nastiest campaign that would ever be fought in Barbados”, placing the blame squarely at the BLP’s feet.
“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.
“This is not the only thing. They’re going to put out other stuff too,” Sinckler said a day before DLP stalwart Derek Alleyne made it clear his party was prepared to take the campaign to the gutter in order to win a third straight term, and that “this same sex marriage thing” would be brought up.
“Who lives with whom is going to come up, as part of that election campaign,” Alleyne told a meeting of the DLP’s St Michael Central branch at Bank Hall.
“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 “we [the DLP] have to make our reelection sure”, he said.
When contacted Neval Greenidge hung up the phone as soon Barbados TODAY identified ourselves. Further attempts to reach him failed.