After coming in for a severe tongue-lashing from several Democratic Labour Party DLP) candidates last night, Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Leader Mia Mottley today made it clear that her back was broad enough to take her “lashes”.
However, as she filed in her nomination papers today at the St Matthew’s Primary School, a very confident looking Mottley told reporters that she would not be sidetracked by the DLP, while stating that her focus was to hold the Freundel Stuart led administration accountable to the people of Barbados.
“If you have no record to run on, that is the kind of thing that will cause you to feel that you can excite your base. The Democratic Labour Party has not been getting people to their meetings, they have no way of exciting their base and quite frankly if that is what they think will do it for the people of Barbados for them, so be it, they are big men and women.
“I know it reflects more on them than me, and therefore I stand focused and remain ready to deliver the promises to the people that we know can be delivered to make a difference in people’s lives. And if taking lashes from them is what it is going to take to get rid of the DLP, measure the back,” she said, to loud cheers and chants of “Mia! Mia” from the large group of supporters who accompanied her to the nomination centre.
It was on Sunday night that Mottley came in for approximately six hours of political attack from candidates of the incumbent DLP as they officially kicked off their campaign for the May 24 general election in Mottley’s St Michael North East constituency.
Most vicious among her critics was Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett who suggested that there was nothing special about Mottley, who he described as an “imposter”, while suggesting that she was “shallow as Brandons Beach at low tide” and was yet to clearly articulate her views to Barbadians on domestic violence and other social issues. He also poked fun at her appearance comparing her to the vindictive character Madea, created and portrayed by the American film director Tyler Perry.
While accusing her of all manner of political failures, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler also joined in the onslaught during which he dismissed Mottley’s economic recovery plan for Barbados, which includes pay increases for public servants, a repeal of the National Social Responsibility Levy, a hike in old age pensions and the restoration of free tertiary education at the University of the West Indies as financially unsound. He also warned that the BLP’s pension plan could cause the National Insurance Scheme to collapse.
Sinckler however suggested that the BLP leader was getting funding from African billionaire Benedict Peters and he sought to make a link with Boko Haram, the militant organization based on northeastern Nigeria.
However, asked to respond to the allegations today, following her nomination at the St Matthew’s Primary School, Mottley said it was a mere distraction, which she was not about to entertain.
“I am not going to be distracted in this campaign by any such thing. The reality is that this campaign is not about who I met with. This campaign is about what the Government is doing,” Mottley asserted.
“Have they told you what they are doing? Have they told you where they have gotten their money from? Have they told you why they haven’t spent the money on collecting garbage, buying buses and doing the other things for people, or have they told you why they have approved the adjustments down at the Town Planning for [Rock Hard] Cement next to a flour factory? What did we use to kill rats with when we were children?” she asked.
In response to a claim by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart 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 bloodlines, Mottley said anyone who believed that should “come and meet me”.
“But as I told you, I am not going to be distracted. Come and meet me. Bajans know me. Bajans are not now hearing about me,” she added.
Stressing that she would remain focused on a number of crises facing the country, Mottley, who will be launching her manifesto on Thursday, said the country had been “hurled from crisis to crisis”, insisting that the issues affecting Barbadians from all walks of life should be the focus of the campaign.
Mottley’s main opponent, DLP candidate for St Michael North East Patrick Todd, who also shared in the attack on Sunday night, warned that “politics is no Sunday school”, as he made no apologies for his party’s attack on the Opposition leader.
In fact, with 17 days to do before D-day, Todd suggested that discussing the leadership of the BLP was far from over.
“We can expect that all participants in this democratic process will be leaving no stone unturned to present their case. So the Democratic Labour Party makes no apologies in engaging in frank discussion with the electorate to encourage one and all to reflect deeply on the implications of making a mistake and electing the wrong persons to chart their destiny over the next five years,” said Todd, who expressed confidence in booting out Mottley as MP for St Michael North East constituency.
Todd said he had been getting positive feedback from constituents as he worked “night and day” in his canvassing, adding that residents were especially pleased with the level of commitment and enthusiasm that he brought to the table.
Referring to his opponent as the “outgoing Member of Parliament [MP]”, Todd said Mottley had over 20 years to prove her worth in the constituency “but the verdict is that she has been found guilty of not really addressing the immediate concerns of the constituents in a timely manner”.
“She is not a first time MP. She served for over 20 years and time is up. The people have given her more than ample opportunity to prove herself and you just have to look at what is the current state of play in the constituency,” he said, while stating that he was “not hearing any great enthusiasm in terms of the residents’ level of satisfaction in the quality of representation of the outgoing MP”.
Also seeking to unseat Mottley in St Michael North East and filing nomination papers today was newcomer from Solutions Barbados Kemar Stuart.