Political Scientist Peter Wickham is predicting further defections from the United Progressive Party (UPP) before the upcoming general election, after one of its candidates jumped ship to join the Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
Linda Field, who was due to contest the St Lucy seat, quit the party with a few parting shots at UPP leader Lynette Eastmond.
Wickham contends that the party was formed out of hatred for BLP leader Mia Mottley, and argued it would fail to hold on to many of its candidiates if it does not change its raison d’être.
“Remember that these are parties designed to attack an individual. So if you set up your institution around an aversion to Mia Mottley, people who support that cause will support you but a lot of those candidates are not committed to an anti Mia cause as the founders of the party are,” Wickham told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.
“This is a reflection that the rubber has started to meet the road in terms of the political action. Those parties have a good social media presence and communicated and conveyed the view that they were stronger than they are, but once they get to the real politics, which has started, it is difficult for them to be sustained,” he added.
The regional pollster contended that while many of the UPP candidates might have signed up believing they would go all out to win the upcoming election, they would come to realize that this was not the party’s major objective.
“These candidates joined a party because they expected to win and when they see that they are not getting people over to their side and that all they are doing is splitting the vote, a lot of them are going to fall by the wayside. I expect that by the time we get to the end a lot more of them are going to drop out. This politics is hard. It takes a lot of time and a lot of money and for you to invest that time and energy for vendetta that someone has with Mia Mottley is not going to be easy,” Wickham said.
Field, who was the second candidate to drop out after the party booted Charleston Taylor over his position on the decriminalization of marijuana, was critical of Eastmond and the party’s structure.
“Unfortunately, I have come to realize that the UPP is not a serious political organization. It has no structure [and] communication with the leadership is limited to WhatsApp and Facebook. Frankly, I don’t think that Ms Eastmond has what it takes to lead and I want to make a difference,” she said.
This prompted UPP Christ Church East Central candidate Ogeji Dottin to rush to Eastmond’s defence, describing Field’s comments as “surprising and unfortunate”.
“Linda’s statements are not necessarily accurate. The party has a structure, we have our headquarters and we have our regular meetings. We do make use of the technology to communicate and find it a little interesting that Ms Field would attempt to make these sweeping statements to discredit the organization and to discredit Lynette, who most of the candidates have a great deal of respect for,” Dottin said.
However, Wickham told Barbados TODAY there was no question that Eastmond was not leadership material.
“The first time we ever had her name mentioned in the context of leadership is now. When we had the last public opinion poll I don’t think a single person mentioned her as an alternative leader. As a matter of fact David Comissiong had more support as a leader than her. I don’t think that she even sees her own self in that light,” Wickham said.