Candidates, get serious!
The mandatory deposits have been paid to the Treasury and the nomination papers making candidacies official have now been signed and handed in.
Days before that the posters and billboards with the images of candidates of the Barbados Labour Party, followed by those of the Democratic Labour Party, have been popping up all around the country, especially in urban sections.
Both of the major political parties have now officially launched their 2013 general election campaigns and Barbadians can expect their neighbourhoods to be filled with the sounds of campaign songs and the voices of politicians of all stripes.
With all of the preliminaries now out of the way it is time for those seeking our vote and the reins of government to start telling the electorate where they intend to take this country in the next five years and beyond.
Senior members of both the DLP and BLP have repeatedly stated that they intend to run a “clean campaign”.
Both have gone as far as saying that they will have self imposed codes of conduct governing their behaviour on the platforms they will mount on numerous occasions in the coming days.
But based on some of the speeches heard so far in the early days of election 2013, we can’t help but wonder if the candidates and their leadership are missing the perfect opportunity to fully engage an electorate which, based on the voter turnouts of recent general elections, is generally apathetic.
At a time when there empirical evidence, partly based on recent political public opinion polls, that Barbadians are most concerned about economic issues, namely the cost of living, jobs, and the economy in general, is simply poking fun at an opponent, including their perceived sexual orientation enough.
We say certainly not. With the campaign now fully underway, and before they release their usually highly anticipated manifestos containing promises and intended programmes, candidates of the two political parties, and we dare say those independent candidates who have added their names to those vying for parliamentary seats, must deliver some substance and not simply entertainment.
While many of the party supporters will delight in the fun made at the expense of an opponent, we are sure the majority of the voting public are more interested in where a specific party intends to take the country.
Why should Barbadians simply accept the DLP slogan Dems Now … Dems Again? Why should we be confident that there will be A Better Tomorrow under the BLP? DLP spokesmen still blaming BLP leader Owen Arthur and his previous 14 year old administration for much of the difficulties the island continues to face will not suffice?
And the BLP saying that the economic problems are not internationally based, but domestically created by an inept and uncaring government is not enough.
Rather than discuss and quarrel over who is tearing down an opponent’s poster or billboard, whether someone is really a man or woman, and who is good looking or not is not important.
What matters is what will happen after February 21 when the incoming BLP or DLP government has to present the annual Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure to the House of Assembly.
If the politicians have not noticed clearing the debt owed to the University of the West Indies has not disappeared because a general election was called.
The problems involving CLICO International Life Insurance and British American Insurance Company Limited are still unresolved, Al Barrack still has not been paid, the price of food is still high, the Barbados Light & Power Company will not be issuing lower electricity bills because it is an election.
Rather than using the three and four meetings that will take place nightly to curse and criticise one another we want to hear the candidates speak about how they are going to take care of those who matter most — the voters.