Without the usual fanfare commonly associated with the announcement of a general election date in the Caribbean, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart stood true to his unconventional style and declared May 24 as polling day in a sterile press release issued by the Barbados Government Information Service this morning.
The announcement, which was made in all of two paragraphs, simply said: “General elections will be held in Barbados on Thursday, May 24, and Nomination Day is set for Monday, May 7.
“The dates were announced today by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who said he had officially notified Governor General Dame Sandra Mason.”
However, Barbadians, for the most part, were seemingly not very perturbed about the manner in which the announcement came. The only unmistakable cry was that the Prime Minister took too long – way too long – after the automatic dissolution of Parliament on March 6 to reveal the date.
Of course, we expect that Mr Stuart’s political opponents will call on him over the course of the four-week campaign to account for the perceived inordinate delay and that our Prime Minister will respond accordingly in his inimitable style.
In fact, with D-Day just 27 days away and Nomination Day a mere ten days off on May 7, we expect the ball to get rolling right away and that with the battle lines already clearly drawn, it is just a matter of how intense the political heat will get in the coming weeks as parties do all in their power to win the confidence of members of the electorate and to seal a major victory in what has already been unashamedly dubbed by some, ‘The Mother Of All Political Battles’ in Barbados, in which mudslinging and gutter politics are expected to be major features.
We can only hope and pray at this stage that things will not turn bloody and that all political parties and candidates – be they BLP, DLP, UPP, Solutions Barbados or independent like Natlee – will do all in their power to ensure that their supporters do not cross the line of common decency and respect, and that, at the end of the day, we can all emerge from this campaign with our heads held high; and our national reputation for good governance and our enviable historic record for holding free and fair elections that are reflective of the will of the people, well intact.
Undoubtedly the stakes are high in this most crucial election out of which we are expected to chart a way forward for ourselves, given our undeniable economic and social challenges that must be tackled frontally and definitively in the months ahead.
Therefore, all must take this pending vote seriously. Not only the political candidates, but us voters as well, to whom the opportunity is being afforded to register to both those who currently hold the reins, and those who would have us hand them over to the them, the importance of never, ever taking us for granted or the power which is temporarily entrusted to them to make decisions in our best interest.
With that said, we are looking forward to hearing a clear and credible action plan for saving our beloved Barbados. No gimmicks, no fluff, no empty promises, but how the seven political parties that are vying for our vote realistically intend to get us out of our current domestic turmoil.
Forget all the needless political rhetoric and the pie-in-the-sky promises! This campaign should really be won by the party that best articulates, and is prepared to confront, the issues of the day.
If the Freundel Stuart administration is to at all be considered, it must now deliver what it failed to give to Barbadians over the last five to ten years – that is a truthful account of its stewardship and a credible defence of why it should be given a third term.
On the other hand, as the island’s oldest party, the Mia Mottley-led Barbados Labour Party needs to be less preoccupied with making history by way of giving the island its first female prime minister and more focused on actively demonstrating that it has viable, practical solutions for resolving our problems, lest it finds itself falling into the very same trap that it now generously accuses the DLP of wallowing in.
Equally, any of the other parties who would have us vote for them, must come good to get our ‘x’ this time around, otherwise by the end of the next four weeks, few may very well like the final result.