General elections are seldom squeaky clean. There’s always dirt here and there on the campaign trail and we have come to expect this as the norm in this blood sport called politics.
Arguably, it wouldn’t be an election campaign if there were no unseemly actors stirring up trouble in one form or the other.
With a mere six days to go, the 2018 election campaign has so far lived up to its billing as the mother of all election battles. The ridiculous mudslinging, the bombshells, ‘bombflops’ and the usual rhetoric have all been on display.
Away from the political platform there have been a few episodes of senseless acts carried out by the overly exuberant which have no place or purpose in our politics.
Amid the rising political temperature, there have been reports of clashes between supporters of the two main parties, the Democratic Labour Party and the Barbados Labour Party, as well as the vandalism of campaign posters. In some instances, the posters were removed and in others destroyed.
Earlier this week, St Michael West Central incumbent James Paul expressed frustration that one of his posters at the corner of Long Gap and Spooner’s Hill was vandalized. He condemned the practice and urged Barbadians to keep the election campaign clean as it winds down.
“I am calling for a peaceful election. We have not had incidents so far except where my poster was destroyed and I will like that instead of engaging in these behaviours let us deal with the issues. In an election there will be persons who will put forward arguments but at the end of the day the public makes the decision.”
Yesterday, St Michael South East candidate Rodney Grant also claimed his posters were being deliberately removed and in fact invited those responsible to “tear them down because after the 24th I won’t have to pay nobody to take them down for me.”
Earlier in the campaign, a poster advertising a community rally being hosted by Christ Church East Central candidate Ronald Jones was defaced to say that the Democratic Labour Party was giving free alcohol to attend the meeting. Jones too condemned the negative trend.
“That is something I really abhor. We have had elections in Barbados, yes the cut and thrust was strong, but we have never descended into this level of behaviour.”
Jones also reported a separate incident where police turned up at his constituency office because they received reports of a disturbance there.
Candidates from the Barbados Labour Party have also reported similar worrying incidents.
The motivation behind such cowardly acts are baffling.
Politics in Barbados need not sink to such lows.
This four-week election campaign is only a blip in our history
When the dust is settled on May 24, whatever the result of the election we will all still be Barbadians who must work with the new Government to lift our country out of the current economic mire.
Therefore, regardless of political persuasion, Bees, Dees, UPP, BFP, Solutions Barbados, BIM or an independent, all Barbadians should take a stand against vandalism and other mischievous acts, which achieve nothing but besmirch our democracy.
Posters don’t win elections and heckling or attacking others won’t either.
The fact is every Barbadian has the right to freely express his or her political views without being harassed.
Leave the fight on stage with the politicians. The real battle is between competing ideas and the best way forward for Barbados. And while there is disagreement on policies, plans and promises, this does not have to involve conflict.
There is always plenty room for perspectives of all kinds and the discussion no matter how passionate should be without rancour and malice.
Political parties have a duty to send a clear message to all their supporters that such disruptive behaviour is not on, particularly when so much is at stake in this general election as we all look forward to a better Barbados.