“The victory is not mine. This victory is not the [Barbados] Labour Party’s. This victory is the people of Barbados’ victory!”
Prime Minister-elect Mia Mottley uttered those words early Friday morning as she addressed hundreds of Barbados Labour Party (BLP) supporters at party headquarters in Roebuck Street, The City, as her party registered a landslide victory in Thursday’s general election.
History was created when the country welcomed its first female Prime Minister designate, after the Mottley-led BLP took a clean sweep in the general election.
Following an easy win in her St Michael East constituency, capturing 4,553 votes, Mottley made her way to her party headquarters just after 3 a.m. and was met with hugs, kisses and well wishes from scores of jubilant party supporters.
After entering a specially prepared stage, Mottley started her victory speech by thanking God, candidates, her campaign manager and others who played a role in the political campaign.
Mottley, clad in black pants and knee-length red jacket and wearing red wedge sandals, also singled out her parents, siblings and extended family, saying the journey was not an easy road for them.
“We could not walk this journey unless we walked it as a united people,” she said as she also thanked supporters.
“I have seen in my candidates a level of sacrifice, a level of commitment that has made me proud to be their leader,” said Mottley, adding that leading the team was a “privilege”.
Mindful that the count was still underway at the time of her speech, Mottley said she had not yet spoken to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart who had earlier accepted defeat.
“I thank him for his concession and I thank him for his service to Barbados. The people have spoken,” she said, while also recognizing other political parties and candidates who contested the election.
Despite leading her party to secure all 30 seats, Mottley said it was not time for gloating or bipartisan politics, and she called on Barbadians to join forces to help rebuild the country.
“I ask you, our supporters, to recognize that there can be no time for gloating and no time for unwanted moaning or groaning. We are one people. We are Barbadians,” she said.
Insisting that it was “time for healing” of the nation, Mottley said she was conscious of the task ahead and that it required immediate action.
Sticking to her campaign promises for which she was heavily criticized, Mottley told the cheering crowd she was committed to “releasing the noose of taxes” from their necks, in an apparent reference to the BLP’s plan to abolish road tax and the National Social Responsibility Levy.
“We recognize that if this economy is to grow again, then Bajans must have access to greater disposal income. And we will give you a commitment that within the next few months, that will be business number one for us,” said Mottley. “We have no time but to get to the task.”
“We have to reverse the rapid decline in our foreign reserves as we go forward to pay foreign debt. And we have to deal with our debt. Against this background, we shall release the IMF [International Monetary Fund] Article IV report so Barbadians can see an independent assessment of where we truly are,” she added.
The BLP leader also promised to “regularize” the social partnership, while pledging to bring the churches and non-governmental organizations to the table.
Mottley also pledged to put a “critical team” in place to deal with the south coast sewage project, get more buses on the road by fixing some and buying new ones, and “deal with garbage trucks as a matter of urgency”.
She also insisted that after consultation, the BLP would raise the minimum contributory and the minimum non-contributory pension “as a matter of urgency”.
Acknowledging that the road ahead would not be an easy one, Mottley said there was no magic or “single shock solution”. However, she said “if we do not move with alacrity we will not succeed”.
“I am deeply conscious that with the absence of an official Opposition in the House of Assembly we will have to evolve institutional arrangements to be able to allow Barbadians to have a greater say in the governance of this country. All ideas must contend before government takes a decision,” she said.
“I give the people of Barbados the assurance that there is no way there will be gloating, there is no way that there will be a mistrust of the absolute mandate that you have given us, the people of the BLP. We will be your servants at all times,” said Mottley before declaring that all schools would be closed today and other businesses, except supermarkets and banks, are encouraged to close at 1 p.m. (MM)