A crisis of leadership

GUESTXCOLUMNA close assessment of the systematic survey conducted this month reveals little from which either of the two main political parties can derive a sense of comfort.

With respect to the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), there is a grim reality that only one in five of the respondents, or 21 per cent, would not like to see a change of Government in the next general election, while nearly two thirds of the respondents, or 62 per cent, said they would like to have a change of Government. This desire for change must be a source of alarm for a Government that appears to be readying itself for an election within the next ten to 12 months, so as to capitalize on the golden jubilee of Independence.

For the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), even less comfort can be drawn from the overwhelming desire for change. One third of the respondents surveyed, or 32 per cent, believe that the BLP is not ready to take Barbados forward on a path to success. This demonstrates a clear reservation about the BLP’s ability to be a satisfactory alternative, a concern which is further illustrated by two other significant findings.

The first is that as many as 40 per cent of the respondents believe the BLP would have performed in exactly the same way as the Dems, were it in power. This clearly suggests that the BLP has failed to persuade a very significant percentage of the respondents that it has done the necessary in-house preparation, analysis or research to make a difference in the policy direction of the country.

In short, the BLP has failed to cut a contrast with the Government.

That inability to cut a contrast is also illustrated by the finding that Mia Mottley, despite having now held unrivalled control over the political and administrative arms of the party since Owen Arthur’s departure in July, 2014, is only viewed by 21 per cent of the respondents as being suited to lead Barbados. That percentage of support is statistically equivalent to the 17 per cent support enjoyed by Prime Minister Stuart.

The harsh fact for the BLP is that despite having enjoyed complete control of her party, Ms Mottley has not been able to contrast herself from the Prime Minister as a political leader.

Added to these concerns is the fact that on March 15, 2015, less than a year ago, a CADRES Poll concluded that Ms Mottley enjoyed a 48 per cent level of support as the person best suited to be Prime Minister, while at the time, Mr Freundel Stuart’s rating was only 13 per cent. Clearly therefore, Mr Stuart’s stock has risen while Ms Mottley’s has plummeted.

The challenge for Ms Mottley now is to explain her stunning 56 per cent decline in popularity during the course of the last 11 months. The BLP’s concerns, however, do not end there.

The survey has also considered the effect of the Maria Agard issue on attitudes towards the BLP. A statistically significant one in five, or 21 per cent, of respondents revealed that it has made them view the BLP less favourably.

If it is to win the next general election, the BLP must be competitive in the marginal St Michael constituencies and across the entirety of Christ Church. It cannot therefore afford the luxury of forfeiting one fifth of the vote in these parishes; and its cause is not helped by a potential loss
of one in every five votes due to this self-inflicted issue.

Finally, there is a desire on the part of 44 per cent of the respondents for Owen Arthur to return to active involvement in the BLP. Those who desire his return were found to be spread across all demographic groups and included first-time voters, as well as voters who indicated they were inclined to support the BLP in the next general election.

This presents a significant challenge for Ms Mottley as a leader. The perception of her leadership is already one of a person in a freefall who is not easily distinguishable from Prime Minister Stuart. That perception is made worse by the view that respondents are now so disillusioned, they are prepared to reach far back into political archives for a former leader in the hope of restoring some credibility to the party’s direction and image.

By this poll, both leaders have been confronted with a number of serious questions. In particular, Ms Mottley’s leadership style and quality will now come under as much scrutiny as has Mr Stuart’s; and one anxiously looks forward to her ability to provide meaningful answers.

(This commentary was submitted by A Concerned Political Analyst.)

4 Responses to A crisis of leadership

  1. Sunshine Sunny Shine February 25, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    It is not just the matter involving Agard’s expulsion that places the leadership of the BLP at such a low, but the perception held in the minds of the voting public that Mottley’s interest is foremost that of becoming first female premier of Barbados. This makes the voting public look at any good intentions she may have at convincing them that she will be a leader for the people to be ones viewed through dubious eyes.

    Then there is the matter self-serving interest. Both parties have shown over the years their disinterest in functioning in a transparent and accountable environment. The amount of auditor general reports on financial improprieties is a testament to that fact. You cannot continue to operate in this environment where accusations are flying left, right and centre with evidence emerging to suggest that both parties have been able to enrich their personal development beyond their wildest dreams. The voting public is tired of the pretense, promises and lies when the only ones who seem to profit are those who are begging the public for their votes.

    I would not talk about the leadership of the current Prime Minister because his figures are a testament to his crap.

  2. jrsmith February 25, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    @,Sunshine Sunny Shine, hail, hail on the button, good shot, must further add why an island as small as Barbados need such a big non productive political infrucsture, this is as like a corporation where people is paid for not being able to break even.. the taste of the corporates influence have reach our shores, for a while now, if we all look at the logic of the said corporates the ones who have Barbados in they sights to be the guinea for the region. Which I always say Barbados is there for the taking, but not by bajans..

    We are now seeing and feeling , how the so call middle class thinking and attitude has brought us to the equation them and us. which was there for a long time, gradually creeping up on us all ,them the minority.. has won, but our people the us who depends on part of that minority , should look beyond the blinkers and see the Political Corporate corruption and the dishonesty which exists in our Barbados..

    • Sunshine Sunny Shine February 25, 2016 at 7:08 pm

      jrsmith, a systematic attempt to keep everything in place that benefited (and is benefiting) the agendas of the political directorate are there for all to see. For example, the judiciary, recruitment system in the public sector, the election of key DLP operatives in key decision-making sectors, the close relationship between the business and political sector, the awarding of government contracts without stringent scrutiny procedures, the propensity for spending large sums on projects with public referendum etc. The problem with what they have developed for the benefit of themselves and the major neglect that they have shown to essential services is now the fundamental breakdown that exposes their open neglect for purposes of maximizing personal benefit elsewhere. If you ignore the need for proper checks and balances you are basically subscribing and consenting to the continuation financial malpractice.

  3. Sunshine Sunny Shine February 25, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    the part that states….large sums on projects with public referendum should read without referendum instead of with referendum.


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