The main contenders in Barbados’ elections launched their campaigns in contrasting styles with Barbados Labour Party advocating plans covering from young to old, while the incumbent Democratic Labour Party focussed on the failings of BLP leader Mia Mottley.
Following Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s announcement on April 26 that Barbadians will go to the polls on May 24 to elect a new government, these two traditional political parties kicked off their official campaigns over the weekend.
First out the block Saturday night was the BLP, which has been in opposition for two political terms since 2008.
That party kicked off its official crusade to regain office at a mass rally Saturday by appealing to the hearts and minds of the elderly with a promise to radically increase old age pensions almost immediately after assuming government.
The BLP then appealed to the pockets of public servants, a large section of the working population, with an undertaking to talk with their trades unions about salary increases which were due since 2010 but had been a major issue with the incumbent government.
BLP leader Mia Mottley assured this large group of the Barbados workforce that in event an agreement is not quickly reached with the unions the workers will not be going home empty-handed because her government would grand an interim cost-of-living allowance until a pay raise deal is reached.
Former attorney general in the past BLP administration, Dale Marshall, then announced that there would be no jail sentences for persons caught with small amounts of marijuana. This touched the young as there are numerous of teenagers and emerging adults, some of them university graduates, whose careers were stained with criminal convictions for possession of spliffs.
Such a flying start raised expectations in the minds of voters on what the DLP will offer during that campaign launch the following night.
But instead of focussing on what any gains of the past 10 years and projecting future developments for people of the island, speakers on the incumbent party platform decided to rip into aspects of the political career of the BLP leader, coloured with personal attacks, with former government minister Steve Blackett even labelling her a devil worshipper.
The excessively negative DLP launch prompted a backlash of voter criticism that caused Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to offer an explanation.
“I am aware that we have come under attack for the content of last night’s platform. That is always a good sign. It is never a good sign when your adversaries are praising you. Whenever your adversaries are praising you it means you are behaving as they want you to behave,” he said Monday.
“We were in the constituency of the Leader of the Opposition last night and we were there for a very good reason, and she had to be the focus of last night’s meeting.
“We’re not going to be there every night so she will not be the focus of the campaign every night,” he added.
Mottley responded, also on Monday
“If you have no record to run on, that is the kind of thing that will cause you to feel that you can excite your base,” she said, adding, “I know it reflects more on them than me, and therefore I stand focused and remain ready to deliver the promises to the people that we know can be delivered to make a difference in people’s lives”.
This 2018 campaign comes at a time of the economy being in such dire straits that government plans to borrow foreign currency from the private sector, so Barbadians would be interested in hearing of solutions to the challenges.
Hopefully voters will hear of those solutions before they cast their ballots later this month.