Opposition walkout a good strategy, says Wickham
Political analyst Peter Wickham is all for the decision by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley’s to stage a walkout of Parliament last week.
Mottley, the St Michael North East MP, was at the time protesting the refusal of Speaker of the House of Assembly Michael Carrington to hear a motion on the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) as a matter of urgent public importance.
The motion came on the heels of news that doctors were only performing emergency surgeries at the QEH due to a shortage of supplies.
Wickham, one of the region’s leading political pollsters, said the walkout was a good strategy to “expose the fact that Government does not seem to want to have a conversation with the people”.
“I think it makes sense because you are not serving any useful purpose in parliament discussing matters that are not high on the priority list of the people,” he said.
Wickham explained that while the walkout could not force Government to take any particular action “it is very useful to let the public understand what your priorities are and what Government’s priorities are not”.
He rejected criticisms that the walkout was off mark, suggesting that Mottley’s intention did not appear to be aimed at bringing down the administration, but rather to “expose certain deficiencies in the management of Government affairs”.
“I do not think that at this point in time Mottley is under any delusion that she can bring down the Government. The numbers do not support it. The action would be intended to make other points and certainly the points were very well made by the doctors on two occasions. She was just playing to that gallery.”
Wickham also responded to charges that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is too silent on urgent public issues, stating that he agreed with that view.
“His priorities do not match those of the nation. You have to understand that that was the basis on which he was elected in 2013 and we do not expect him to act differently. His position on being silent is nothing new. It has been endorsed in an election, which he won. I think that we would have to accustomed ourselves to it until the next general elections,” Wickham said.
As for the lessons to be learnt from yesterday’s general election in Dominica in which Roosevelt Skerrit was returned as Prime Minister for a third straight term, the political analyst said it showed the importance of keeping in touch with the people.
“One of the significant things about Skerrit is that he has been able to maintain his humility and popularity. If you look at Skerrit and compare him with the other leaders in the Caribbean he is easily one of the most humble and more in touch with the people,” said Wickham, who had predicted victory for Skerrit’s Dominica Labour Party in a poll conducted by the Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES), which he heads.
“In many ways Skerrit’s approach directly contrasts with Stuart’s, which raises the question whether Stuart would win another election. The two political personalities are diametrically opposite. Skerrit communicates regularly and effectively with his people and Stuart does not. I think Stuart makes a deliberate attempt not to,” Wickham added.