The incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) officially kicked off its election campaign here on Sunday night, with one woman and one woman only on the minds of each and every DLP speaker – Opposition Leader Mia Mottley.
During the six-hour long political meeting, DLP officials made no bones about saying why they had chosen to hold their campaign launch at the National Stadium in Mottley’s St Michael North East constituency.
In fact it was simply attack after attack on the Opposition Leader, beginning with DLP St Andrew candidate Irene Sandiford-Garner who sought to suggest from the outset that Mottley was unfit for the post of Prime Minister, but was determined nonetheless to “force feed the population” on this idea. However, Sandiford-Garner strongly urged Barbadians to keep their thinking caps on as they prepared to elect a new Government.
She was followed by Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett who was simply vicious in his onslaught against the Opposition Leader as he sought to show that there was nothing special about Mottley, at times even labelling her “an imposter” and suggesting that she was as “shallow as Brandons Beach at low tide”. Blackett also urged Barbadians to question Mottley’s views on domestic violence and other social issues.
The onslaught continued with DLP candidate Patrick Todd, who is seeking to unseat Mottley in St Michael North East. While suggesting that it was time for Barbadians to tell Mottley “adios mi amor” (goodbye my love), he drew a line from Tarrus Riley’s popular reggae song as he further urged voters to ensure that Mottley “Don’t Come Back”.
Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth Stephen Lashley was next and he was later joined by Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley, who is also an attorney, in not only attacking Mottley on the controversial issue of her legal qualifications, but also over her alleged involvement in the Crab Hill Police Station fiasco. Both men also suggested that Mottley had a lot to answer for in terms of Edutech and other failed projects which occurred under her watch as Minister of Education in a previous Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration.
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and Minister of Agriculture and Water Resource Management Dr David Estwick also made it clear they were present to discuss leadership and in particular the leadership of the BLP, while promising that there would be plenty time later in the May 24 general election campaign to address other issues, including pressing matters to do with the economy.
However, Estwick did not miss the opportunity to seek to clear his name over the persistent problem of sewage leaks along the south coast.
In fact, while reading from official documents, he charged that BLP stalwart Sir Henry Forde had warned the former BLP Government as far back as 1994 about constructing the sewage plant along the south coast, but no one listened. However, he said the Mottley-led BLP was now seeking to lay full blame for the embarrassing mess on the shoulders of the incumbent DLP.
Estwick was also joined by Sinckler in attacking Mottley’s plans for resolving the current sewage issue, suggesting that she had a “magic wand” for everything that was wrong in Barbados.
Before a large crowd of party supporters, the majority of whom were decked out in party colours – bright yellow and blue shirts with the words “Do D Ting! Vote Dems” printed on the front, and on the back “We staying wid Dems!” – Sinckler also called on Mottley to answer two questions, namely, who was funding her political campaign that she was spending “ostentatiously” on and whether something was psychologically wrong with her, while dismissing her plans to purchase 50 garbage trucks, repeal the dreaded National Social Responsibility Levy, give public servants a pay increase, hike old age pensions and restore free tertiary education immediately as simply unattainable as they would cost the Treasury in excess of $400 million.
At the same time, Sinckler, who has been under pressure for his handling of the economy in recent years, suggested that the BLP leader was getting funding from a billionaire from Africa, while making reference to the Jihadist militant organization based in northeastern Nigeria, known as Boko Haram.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart wrapped up the night’s assault on Mottley claiming that she was approaching the office of Prime Minister with a sense of “entitlement” while he felt passionately that leadership had absolutely nothing to do with blood lines.
Absent were Christ Church East candidate Dr Denis Lowe, who DLP campaign manager Robert Bobby Morris said was still recovering from knee surgery, and newcomer Kim Tudor, the candidate for the St Michael North constituency, who Morris said was “a little under the weather”.