Former Barbados Labour Party (BLP) candidate Hutson Griffith believes he is deserving of nothing short of an apology from the Mia Mottley-led Opposition party, which he said went all out to publicly humiliate and betray him after he turned in its best showing ever in St John in the 2013 general election.
“I get over one thousands votes, the third person to do so in St John,” said Griffith, while pointing out that despite losing to the ruling Democratic Labour Party’s Mara Thompson for the second straight time, he had almost doubled the 583 votes he had captured in the 2011 by election.
Griffith also acknowledged that the rural constituency has been a DLP stronghold since 1958, but suggested that he should have been given more credit by the BLP for increasing its popularity in St John and closing the political gap somewhat between 2011 and 2013.
However, “to add insult to injury”, Griffith said when it came time for the BLP to confirm its candidates for 2018 race, he was the only BLP incumbent that was presented with five challengers on his slate.
“It is strange because it was a seat that has never been won by the Barbados Labour Party and I really felt insulted,” he told Barbados TODAY, while stressing that his candidacy in St John was on the ascendency and that even though the BLP never really expected to win that seat, the party had performed much better there in the last election than in areas in which it has traditionally had a foothold.
“I was told to go and run in St John with the expectation that the party was going to win the other constituencies and everything was going to be fine, but as fate would have it the people that were supposed to win the seats did not win,” he told Barbados TODAY, while pointing out that in St James South, which was a BLP stronghold up to 2008, the party’s incumbent candidate Sandra Husbands only had one challenger to contend with.
On the other hand, Griffith, who pulled out of last year’s BLP nomination process at the last minute, said he was made to learn at the eleventh hour that there was a move afoot to oust him.
“One of my five challengers called me and asked me if I was running again and I told him, ‘yes I was still running’. I accepted the respect which that one individual showed, but the rest of the process was an insult to me,” he told Barbados TODAY, adding that “as far as I was concerned they could keep that seat”.
The former BLP representative, who has since quit the party and is now running on a United Progressive Party (UPP) ticket, also suggested that “I would have to be an idiot to have five persons come up and challenge me”, while blaming Mottley and other senior party officials for the intense internal rivalry that saw a number of “people start walking bout in St John”.
“I made the decision to tell Barbados Labour Party to keep St John and go from around me because of the political foolishness that is going on,” he told Barbados TODAY, while stating that he felt “humiliated and betrayed by the BLP leadership.
“They have no respect! Absolutely none! The Leader of the Opposition has not written an apology to me yet. I was telling the Barbados Labour Party that they need to stop, something is wrong with the message they are sending about how they treat people but nobody wanted to hear me. The people they had to win the election in 2013 come and sit down on the bench with me like players that get sub in a football game . . . . The BLP owe me an apology man,” Griffith exclaimed.
However, Griffith, who was speaking on the sidelines of Saturday’s UPP meeting in St Andrew, insisted that his decision to run on the UPP ticket had nothing to do with any bitter feelings towards the BLP.
“For the record, my UPP association has nothing to do with that. My decision to run in St John was strictly on principle over the madness that was going on in St John politically.
“I was invited to the UPP following a conversation and since then the United Progressive Party has been growing under the leadership of Lynette Eastmond,” he said, while echoing a number of the sentiments expressed by fellow UPP candidate and former BLP representative for St Michael South Central David Gill, who lost the BLP St Michael South Central nomination to economist Marsha Caddle.
Following his loss by 29 votes in October 2016, Gill immediately decided to quit the party, while charging that the process was rigged because the BLP hierarchy did not want him around anymore.