A leading university academic is supporting Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s decision to use up as much of the 90 days constitutionally permitted following the automatic dissolution of Parliament before announcing a date for the general election.
Director of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) Dr Don Marshall also took a swipe today at political scientist Peter Wickham who said last week a circus atmosphere with Stuart as the ringleader, had “led to the recent establishment of a political party for sex workers”.
Wickham had said the announcement last week by adult entertainment consultant Charles Spice Lewis that he was about to launch the Political Prostitutes Party (PPP) – made up of people in the sex industry – to contest the 2018 general election was all part of mockery being made of the electoral process.
And he placed responsibility squarely at the feet of Stuart, whom he said has sunk the process of choosing this country’s leaders into the “realm of the absurd” by his refusal to name an election date even after the automatic dissolution of Parliament on March 6.
However, Marshall said Wickham was way off the mark, contending that the use of the 90 days was a good thing for democracy in Barbados. He said there was no correlation between people’s interest in electoral politics and the Prime Minister’s delay in calling the election.
“I find the noises kind of peculiar. On the one hand, we are being told that the Prime Minister needs to call this and to bring to an end to what is seen as a farce . . . the farce being the emergence of new candidates, new parties. I don’t see that as a farce,” the SALISES head told Barbados TODAY this morning, adding that too many people were interested in elections and not necessarily politics.
“I think this is good for democracy that we are seeing a number of persons putting their hands up. I think it might be a statement about people’s innate or creeping dissatisfaction with the established two parties,” he said.
But more to the point of the 90-day extension, Marshall was of the view that it would give the candidates more time to “rub shoulders” with citizens and to build up their data bank of information.
“I see nothing wrong if you are seeking to genuinely represent people that you should feel this period is an extended period. There is nothing wrong with going and having an elaborate time for canvassing. I am actually enjoying the fact that the people have a chance to see wanna-be representatives more than normal,” he stressed.
The UWI intellectual also had a message for the opposition forces, whom he said believed the Prime Minister was operating on borrowed time.
“If it is indeed from the vantage point of the Opposition [Barbados Labour Party] and the oppositional groups that the Prime Minister is on borrowed time, they would have the opportunity to exercise their franchise as they see fit when the election is called before June,” he stated.
Marshall also welcomed the entry of retired prostitute Natalie Natlee Harewood into the election race as a candidate for The City, stating Barbadians should not make a mockery of her decision.
“I applaud persons like Natalie for changing the conversation about The City where it had trailed off into silence . . . .The whole ‘ghettoization’ about particular parts of The City, the need for environmental cleanup and the need for resilience and meaningful jobs . . . and getting us back to thinking of ways where we can re-urbanize Bridgetown, Greater Bridgetown and reflect a new way forward . . . a new vision,” he noted.
The leading academic added that in his book the sex worker-turned-politician had already won because, “that is not something to make mock sports about”.
The SALISES director also backed the new Underdogs Political Party (PPP) which its leader Kammie Holder said was all about partying and comic relief and not a serious contender for the upcoming election.
“If you are going get some humour thrown in with the groups and organizations that will use art and artistry and all manner of human expression, creative expression to make a statement about the process, I think that is useful. I think we should turn the lines around to focus on what the society is saying about the entire electoral process and our democracy, rather than just saying a delay on the part of the Prime Minister is leading to foolishness on the part of those that might be perceived as just humbugs,” he added. (EJ)