Wickham and Henry caught up in a bitter Dominica elections
As the campaign heats up for the December 8 general election in Dominica, two Barbadians – a pollster and a political strategist – have found themselves in the middle of the political mudslinging.
The opposition United Workers Party (UWP) has called the credibility of the Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) director Peter Wickham into question, while holding political strategist Hartley Henry’s educational background up to public scrutiny.
When contacted tonight, the UWP leader Lennox Linton told Barbados TODAY that Henry and Wickham had only themselves to blame for any attention they were getting, since, in his estimation, they had “inserted” themselves into the island’s political process.
He charged that they were both part of a “scheme” to get the Roosevelt Skerrit-led incumbent Dominica Labour Party (DLP) re-elected.
“That is how they have put themselves in [the campaign]. I didn’t put them there, they put themselves in it,” he insisted.
“Peter Wickham was in the media recently, basically trying to dictate to us who we should vote for, who we should support and why we should support Skerrit,” the Opposition Leader said.
He also charged that Henry has been meddling in the country’s political affairs for some time now, adding that the Opposition was in possession of “incontrovertible evidence”, which came from Henry’s Blackberry in Barbados, that he had been working with Skerrit to “cook up all sorts of schemes”.
Therefore, Linton said “while the UWP would like to ignore him, everywhere we turn, this gentleman [Henry] is in our face, he is in our business. He is working overtime to determine for us who our government should be in Dominica and therefore at some point in time, he had to receive some attention,” the Opposition Leader said.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of the election date just a week ago, the UWP has gone into full campaign mode, with Henry, who is the political strategist for the ruling DLP, featured in several posters currently circulating on social media.
“Dominicans vote for Skerrit to make Bajan Hartley Henry in charge of their Government”, declares one of the posters, which also appears on Linton’s Facebook page.
Another questions whether Henry has the educational qualifications to write speeches for the DLP leader.
Asked why the UWP was so focused on Henry’s level of education, Linton explained: “I have been accused of having no educational background suitable for becoming prime minister of Dominica by a prime minister who is wholly and solely reliant on Hartley Henry for his every move in government, even though, as I understand it, Hartley Henry himself has no university degree.
“I am being pilloried in Dominica by the prime minister for being not educated enough to be prime minister but here is the prime minister taking advice and consulting with someone, who, as far as I know, has no university degree,” he stressed.
However, when contacted in Roseau today, Henry said he would not be pulled into the UWP’s sideshow.
“I don’t get involved in that level of discussion. I don’t get into that type of out-of-season thing; the main event is on December 8,” he told Barbados TODAY, blatantly dismissing his detractors.
Wickham, meantime, also indicated he was not losing any sleep over the UWP’s accusations that he was a spin-doctor and political operative for the DLP.
The UWP has also charged that a recent public opinion poll by CADRES, which predicted a fourth consecutive term for the incumbent government, was not credible.
Rejecting the poll results, Linton pointed to CADRES’ incorrect prediction of a victory for the Barbados Labour Party in the 2013 general elections here.
However, Wickham is standing unreservedly behind his Dominica poll, dismissing the UWP’s position as “farcical”.
“I also stand by the results of other polls that we have done in Dominica over the last ten years that we’ve been associated with work in that country. Our track record in Dominica speaks for itself and the reality of the situation is that the opposition faces an uphill battle,” Wickham said.
“The opposition has taken a predictable position and this is exactly what they have done in previous elections, where they have essentially tried to suggest that the work that CADRES has done is not accurate and that we are either incompetent or alternatively that we are acting as agents of the DLP,” he noted in his interview with Barbados TODAY.
“I’m not particularly bothered by their reaction. I think it is a reaction that is predictable.”
The political scientist pointed out that there was information in the poll that was “to the UWP’s credit”, but said the party preferred to throw the blame for its current position at CADRES’ feet.
The UWP has commissioned its own survey which points to victory for the opposition party with 15 of the 21 seats up for grabs in next month’s elections.
Wickham pointed out, however, that the party had declined to publish the results of that poll.
“It’s so unfortunate that CADRES is willing to hold the results of its poll up to scrutiny and make it available to the regional public for scrutiny, while the UWP can say that they disagree with a published poll of CADRES, for which details are available, and they have another one, which is secret, and they will not say anything other than that it shows them winning 15 seats.
“I have a fundamental problem with that. It seems somewhat unfair that they’re not willing to be held up to the same scrutiny that I am being asked to be held to.”
CADRES had predicted, ahead of the two previous elections in Dominica, that the Skerrit-led DLP would return to government.
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