Leader of the Alliance Party for Progress (APP) Bishop Joseph Atherley is putting other political parties on early notice that his team would be putting systems in place to improve their chances of taking the reins of government whenever the next general election is called.
Atherley’s announcement comes two days after the general election in which the Mia Mottley-led Barbados Labour Party (BLP) captured all 30 seats in the country’s Parliament.
But the APP leader said he was not ready to hang up his political hat despite the thrashing he received in the January 19 polls.
“I will try and serve the people of Barbados for as long as the Lord gives me strength, health and breath. I am committed to that, and I am committed to serving through this entity here. They rallied around me and expressed support for me in this and like I said, this is beginnings for us.
“We came in the elections two and a half weeks to go before we announced to the public the formation of this alliance group so we are here for the long haul,” he said.
Atherley, who contested the St Michael Central seat last Wednesday, garnered only 267 votes, while BLP candidate Arthur Holder won the seat with 2,014 votes. The Democratic Labour Party candidate Courie Cox gained 670 votes while Solutions Barbados candidate Robert Toussaint rallied 18 of the votes.
Looking back at the general election, Atherley told Barbados TODAY the low voter turnout of just over 41 per cent was a huge deciding factor in the results at the poll.
“The party in government lost a lot of the support they had last time. I think their support level was about 29 per cent in this election. The Democratic Labour Party in many instances retained its base but did not improve on its performance. In fact, the only party with numbers going up was the Alliance, but of course those numbers were small and it suggests we have some ways to go,” he said in his assessment.
“We do recognise those numbers have gone up with respect to most people who contested the election and we are planning now for the next period of Parliament. We will be very vocal, very visible and very connected with the people of Barbados,” he declared.
Atherley was speaking to Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of a candidates meeting of the APP.
During the meeting, individuals had the opportunity to express their commitment to the party, make their observations about the January 19 poll and discuss various strategies for the APP going forward.
“We are discussing what perhaps for us are priorities going forward, strategies to be adopted in pursuit of those priorities,” said Atherley, who declined to disclose any of the early strategies outlined so far.
However, he said the APP would be holding a press conference on Saturday to share his party’s plans.
Stating that APP members were very enthusiastic, Atherley described them as “men and women of substance, integrity, intellect and industry”.
“Some were first time candidates in the last election, some have run before, but all are expressing a renewed commitment to the Alliance Party going forward and to the pursuit of the interest of the people.
Asked to react to news that Democratic Labour Party (DLP) president Verla De Peiza had resigned from that party, Atherley said he was not prepared to get involved in the affairs of the DLP, but quickly added that people had to know what decisions were in their best interest, that of the political party and the country.
“I think each organisation goes through some stresses from time to time and they will have to make the decisions which are in their best interest, but beyond that, in the wider interest of Barbados. I have saluted publicly before the Democratic Labour Party because they have served this country well and they have a legacy of service and revolutionary change through their administration over the years especially in former times.
“I salute Verla if she has taken that decision [to step down] and I wish her well, but I don’t get into the personal aspects of politics. People must know what their sense of calling and commitment is, and what is the level of support that they have and how is it best to position themselves to pursue the interest, not only with the party but the country,” Atherley said. (MM)