It would seem that the two men vying to represent the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in the St John seat being vacated by Mara Thompson, have a lot of work to do to get the voters familiar with them.
Despite the fact that they both are party stalwarts and they both have represented the DLP in past elections, Leroy McClean – a former protégé of Errol Barrow, the constituency’s first representative and Father of Independence – and George Pilgrim, the party’s general secretary, are both strangers to the people of St John, residents told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.
In fact, many asked, “Who is George Pilgrim? Who is Leroy McClean?” although 69-year-old David Mason of Small Town said he was aware that Pilgrim had been on the ground for many years with former Prime Minister David Thompson, the second Prime Minister to represent the constituency, and whose death in office in 2010 paved the way for his widow, Mara, to become the Member of Parliament.
However, the consensus was that it did not matter which of the two got the nod, the DLP would retain the seat.
Mason, who had previously worked at polling stations, admitted that many of his fellow constituents were unhappy with the DLP’s performance in office over the past eight years or so.
But he said come Election Day, voters in St John would put it all behind them and stick with the Dees.
“I know the areas and most of the areas in St John are DLP areas. There are no maybes about that. Everybody does say this time around they are not voting, they ain’t doing this . . . but when election come out it does be a different thing. They go and vote,” Mason said, although he refused to disclose whether or not he intended to vote.
Over in Gall Hill, Philip Gibson said although he did not know Pilgrim, who unsuccessfully ran in St Thomas in 1994 and 1999, or McClean, a losing candidate in St George South in 1991 and St Michael North East in 1994, it would be difficult to dismantle the DLP in St John.
“Whatever happens, happens. You got to give the best man his way,” Gibson told Barbados TODAY.
Several residents indicated that they did not intend to vote this general election because of the dire circumstances in the country.
Among them was entrepreneur Aubyn Mayers, who was pessimistic about the country’s future, but who was confident that the outcome in St John was a foregone conclusion, although he predicted some DLP supporters could switch allegiance to the Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
“If [David] Thompson was alive I don’t think Barbados would have been in this condition, I think it would have been different. But the things that have happened over the years, DLP or BLP, there isn’t much changes, all is actually the same,” Mayers said.
“A lot of people have changed their minds, they are either going to abstain from voting or they may turn Bee because of the things that have happened within the last couple years,” he added.
Colleton resident Rasheed Jones, who is in his early 20s, also said he was unfamiliar with the two DLP pretenders to the seat, but he had briefly interacted with BLP candidate Charles Griffith.
He, too, seemed apathetic, complaining that “all two [of the political parties] are the same because . . . all two is just pass and just go long, none of the two don’t look around in society and see the youth . . . who have to come and vote”.
Highlighting the issue of youth unemployment, as well as the struggling economy, Jones said it was time for the people of St John to rethink their voting habits.
“I would like the BLP to win because the DLP don’t do anything for the St John people, and the youths of today doing a lot of crime and violence and they don’t have nothing consistent for the youths to educate them,” Jones charged.