Charles Griffith created one of the biggest upsets in this country’s political history last night.
Running in a constituency the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) had never won, the 55-year-old first-timer became the party’s first candidate to capture what had always been seen as the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) stronghold – the constituency of St John.
In the 14 previous general elections held since 1951, the DLP had never lost that seat. But five years after the DLP’s Mara Thompson thoroughly defeated BLP candidate Hudson Griffith 4,025 votes to 1,091, capturing 79 per cent of votes in the process, Griffith did what many deemed the impossible.
He captured 2,983 of the 5,167 votes cast, almost twice as many as his main challenger, George Pilgrim of the DLP, who earned 1,598 votes.
Griffith won all but two of the 22 boxes announced.
Hudson Griffith who represented the United Progressive Party captured 308 votes, Solution Barbados’ Cherone Martindale got 86 votes, Leroy McClean who ran as an independent got 155 votes and the Barbados Integrity Movement’s Derek Went won 22 votes.
They were 15 spoilt votes.
There were over 8,000 registered voters in St John.
Long before returning officer Richard Harris officially announced Griffith as the winner at 3:25 a.m., a large group of BLP supporters had gathered outside the Owen Estwick and Earl Gibbons Auditorium, celebrating his imminent victory.
Speaking to the media moments after former Prime Minister Freundel Stuart conceded defeat, Griffith, who was flanked by his children Destiny, Akeem and Niah, said he was honoured.
“This is a win not only for me but for the people of St John. This journey was never about self, so to be here tonight celebrating victory is a major, major plus, because this is about making St John grow,” he said.
While he was humble in victory, Griffith said he fully expected to not only win the seat, but for the BLP to capture all 30 seats.
“I was expecting this outcome. I know the party’s machinery was in high gear and we did what we were supposed to do. The confidence today was as a result of knowing that the persons in St John felt disrespected and neglected, so today was payback time.”
Griffith said the fact that the DLP chose to select Pilgrim as their candidate for St John was also a slap in the face.
“Someone from St John may have been a better candidate, but the fact that you brought…a three-time loser to St John, people felt disrespected, so hence the reason the result is being reflected,” Griffith said.
He disclosed that one of his first goals as MP for the area would be to address the high unemployment level as well as to upgrade the parish’s road infrastructure. (RB)