Two new political aspirants have emerged in the St Michael West constituency and each is eager to represent the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) following the resignation of current parliamentary representation Bishop Joseph Atherley from the party.
The two young men have come forward, promising to restore unity, faith and strength in the ‘forsaken’ constituency.
Director of Cricket at the Barbados Cricket Association, Steven Leslie and entrepreneur, Christopher Gibbs have offered themselves as nominees to lead the constituency into the next general election, under the BLP’s banner.
During a small branch meeting at the St Leonard’s Boys’ Secondary School on Sunday evening, BLP faithfuls appeared unhappy with the level of support given to communities in the area by the ruling party, following Atherley’s crossing of the floor to form the opposition. In fact, one constituent suggested that party members had been left wandering, like “lost sheep, without a shepherd”.
President of the branch, John Bancroft strongly refuted the suggestion and dismissed it as a “non issue”.
“That is the view of the person who made the statement,” he said. “The people in St Michael West and the executive of St Michael West do not view themselves as lost sheep.
“We view ourselves as a group of people who, right now have no sitting representative, but it does not mean that we are sitting down and are lost. We, as the executive, are out there working hard on behalf of the people of St Michael West and we will continue to do so until a sitting representative is chosen to represent St Michael West. It is as simple as that,” said Bancroft.
Leslie, who currently serves as the branch’s secretary, has been active in the party since 1997.
He highlighted the issues of garbage collection, transportation and the impact of government’s current austerity measures as “bread and butter issues” for the people of the St Michael West constituency.
“I believe the timing is right to give St Michael West that type of representation…. After the bold move that was taken back in 2018, where within a few hours, there was an opposition leader, I believe the time is correct for representation to come from within the core.
“St. Michael West needs representation that will be honest with them, trustworthy and transparent. I believe we have a leader in Mia Amor Mottley, who wants us to stay the course. But I think we have to speak with people and explain to them that this journey will not be made overnight,” he said.
Describing the actions of Bishop Atherley as “shocking”, he said: “We have been able to experience Branford Taitt, Reverend Atherley and Michael Carrington and now there is a vacancy and Steven Leslie intends to fill that vacancy.”
He will have to go up against businessman, Christopher Gibbs, who said his family has always been involved in politics, albeit behind the scenes. Gibbs however said he “felt the calling” to serve as he examined the country’s tough economic situation,.
The current chairman of St. Leonard’s School, Gibbs is a third generation owner of fresh produce company, Pelican Produce and said in recent times, much of his earnings have been dedicated to community projects. These include the provision of free Wi-Fi, feeding programmes, clean-ups and de-bushing in Prescod Bottom and Skeete’s Road.
“Right now, I am establishing a database of all persons who have pit toilets and should I be successful in my application, that is one of the issues that I will hit head-on…I feel strongly about these things, because when we see the country in trouble, we should all answer the call and I feel strongly about that,” he said.
Gibbs said he was ashamed at Bishop Atherley’s decision to cross the floor of Parliament and said many constituents felt betrayed.
“It’s real, because I have walked around this constituency and people feel lost. Their calls are not being answered and they want help. There’s poverty in the constituency, there’s joblessness and I feel as though we need to get this issue resolved get someone from the party to come and take control and I am ready to step up to the plate and do so. I have already hit the ground running,” he said.
Meanwhile, the sitting independent MP has signalled his intention to launch a new political party to contest the next general election. email@example.com