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Hammie Out


by Donna Sealy

Hamilton Lashley has had enough.

The St. Michael South-East MP, who rose from relative obscurity to national prominence in Barbados Labour Party and Democratic Labour Party administrations, is expected to announce his retirement tomorrow, closing the curtain on 19 years of active politics.

Lashley, a former Minister of Social Transformation who rejoined the ruling DLP in 2010 after leaving it for rivals the BLP when that party was in office, will officially announce the news tomorrow at a press conference being held at the Parkinson Memorial School.

“Tomorrow I will give further details but it is the community which is organising a series of events to mark the 19 years that I have been representing them,” he told Barbados TODAY via telephone.

It was in 1994 that the “rastaman from the Pine” entered elective politics on a DLP ticket, beating then BLP MP Delisle Bradshaw, to claim the seat he has held onto ever since.

A DLP source told this newspaper that Lashley, who has served for two decades, should be thanked for his contribution to the youth and working class Barbadians.

That person also said the MP, as a member of Owen Arthur Cabinet, was committed to all who he considered to be poor and down trodden.

His approach was simple and admirable, the source added, stating that Lashley never sought lofty office and although from time to time his views conflicted with the “political masters that he served” he was “committed to all he considered to be poor and downtrodden” and whenever he felt he could do no more he moved on.

“It is noteworthy that Mr. Lashley is leaving politics from within the same party within which he came,” the source said.

DLP General Secretary George Pilgrim, noting that three prospective candidates had already stated their desire to be Lashley’s replacement during a branch meeting on Sunday, said the usual process involving candidate selection would ensue.

“The party will now select the candidates and rules will kick in. Whatever we’ve done in the past we will do again,” he added. He also said that Lashley would be thanked for his contribution at a later stage.

Teacher and trade unionist Pedro Shepherd, Chairman of the Constituency Council, Patrick Tannis, and hotelier Hal Martin met with the branch.

Sources said the branch was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Freudel Stuart to give their views last night and the meeting with the general and executive councils tomorrow night which would have seen the nomination and ratification was postponed.

The DLP’s annual conference is about two weeks away.

Lashley’s imminent departure comes more than two years after he rejoined the DLP, a decision which prompted political scientist Peter Wickham to urged him to thrown in the towel.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY, the pollster said then: ” I would advise Mr. Lashley to quit politics. He has served a long and distinguished political career and has touched many people in the process, but he should now quit while he is ahead.

“Don’t go and violate your memory by going back again and … appear to be blowing in the wind. The better thing to do would be to say ‘I have served both parties, and done a lot for my people as a Bee and a Dem and it is now time to just ride off into the sunset’ — to bow out gracefully.”

He also called Lashley as “a relic of an era that has passed”.

“If you look at his style of politics and the way he addresses individualistic needs I do not think he is a politician of the future. Hammie’s style of leadership is very much characteristic of a style that has long passed. I don’t see him as being on the front burner of political action and activism.

“But at the same time, however, he represents a constituency where that style of politics has a greater currency. If he was representing a constituency like St. James Central or St. James South, I don’t think his style would be that effective, but in the Pine, especially the poorer sections of the Pine, that style of politics appears to be quite effective and one has to ask if it is the fault of the political system which allows him to be that person, or if it is Mr. Lashley who has created this system that supports him.”

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