The entry of St John native Leroy McClean into the race for the tradition Democratic Labour Party (DLP) stronghold seems to have left many DLP supporters caught between two lovers.
McClean, who announced last week he would contest the seat as an independent after losing his bid for the DLP nomination to General Secretary George Pilgrim, insists he is running as a Dem, suggesting he will stick with the party should he be successful.
But his decision to run has placed a number of supporters in a bind, forcing them to choose between the man they know and the official party candidate, who has the backing of outgoing representative Mara Thompson.
“[McClean] running as an independent candidate, it is very hard for him to win and . . . no one really knows much about George. But I hope if he [George] doesn’t win, I hope Leroy McClean wins,” one Small Town resident, who sought anonymity, said.
The St John voter was clear that he would not switch allegiance to the Barbados Labour Party, but what was not clear was which of the two of McClean or Pilgrim would get his vote.
“I am voting to the DLP. If I vote for Leroy it is still going to the Dems,” he stressed.
The extent of the divided loyalties was emphasized by Kelly-Ann Duncan, who had no doubt “the DLP are going to get back up here for sure”.
Duncan said while constituents have felt neglected by the DLP administration since the passing of Prime Minister David Thompson in 2010, they remained devoted to the political party.
Nevertheless, she told Barbados TODAY, it was a guessing game as to whom they would choose come May 24.
“St John people are so funny. You would think that you have them and then they switch on you last minute. It happened in the last election,” Duncan said.
The residents appeared to dismiss the United Progressive Party’s Hudson Griffith and Cherone Martindale of Solutions Barbados, while there were those, such as 88-year-old Darnley Hunte, who were doubtful that McClean would attract many votes.
Still, Hunte felt the election would be “close, close”, predicting that Charles Griffith of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) would cause some headaches for the incumbent party.
Hunte also said the BLP enjoyed strong support in areas such as Clifton Hall, where voters complained they had yet to see either McClean or Pilgrim with only 16 days left before the national poll.
Roland Lovell told Barbados TODAY while the seat has belonged to the DLP, an influx of support for the BLP from the youth was ushering in a changing of the tide.
“Most of the time all of us just vote DLP because of our parents. There are a lot of people in St John who are now starting to think for themselves because the DLP was in power last election and most of the youngsters [are] still unemployed. We don’t have a voice in St John so I think Charles [Griffith] is the person who will give us the better representation,” the 29-year-old told Barbados TODAY.
“If you look around St John you are going to see a lot more people wearing red [BLP’s colour] than before, so I think it has changed a lot. Before George [Pilgrim] could have come in and win hands down, but I think with this election . . . somebody like Charles has a better chance,” Lovell added.
Clifton Hall Tenantary resident Alistair White said he had been a supporter of the DLP but had changed his party affiliation to the Bees.
White contended that an increasing number of St John residents were shifting loyalties, suggesting this was evident by the many residents of the parish who gathered on the east coast for the annual Heroes’ Day picnic organized by the BLP.
“If you saw the number of people from St John who wore red and went and support that picnic, that is a strong indication of what will happen . . . . It will be a very close run and I strongly believe that Charles Griffith stands a great chance of winning the seat of St John,” White emphasized.