It all comes back down to leadership

Given the prominence of Barbadians on the campaign trail in Dominica in the run-up to the December 8 general election there, it would be remiss of us not to ponder the possible lessons for our own political scenario.

Just as Barbadians re-elected Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in 2013, bucking the winds of change sweeping several Caribbean incumbents from office, Dominicans yesterday opted to stick with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and the Dominica Labour Party for another five years.

The outcome, correctly predicted by Barbadian pollster and political scientist Peter Wickham, saw Mr Skerrit securing 15 of the 21 seats at stake, losing only three of the 18 he had won in the 2009 election. The Opposition United Workers Party, led by first-timer Lennox Linton, failed to woo the Dominican populace with its slogan Change We Must,  though Mr Linton managed to strengthen the party’s presence in the Dominica Parliament by three seats –– winning a total of six, including his, previously held by former prime minister Edison James.

Should this result on its own be of any comfort to the Freundel Stuart administration? We submit that such contentment would be foolhardy, and  the Democratic Labour Party would be better off working urgently and diligently to rectify the several national crises we are facing as a nation and diminishing the anxiety these issues are causing the electorate.

It would seem the only practical way of solidifying its position with Barbadian voters Barbadian for a chance at third term in office.

The campaign slogan of the Dominica Labour Party in Roseau –– Leadership Is Everything –– in all the circumstances is quite telling. Today’s voter is demanding much more from politicians than their rhetoric. Voters want to see those whom they elect to high office, with that powerful X, involved and on the ball. And, even more so, the party leader must be in the midst of the people, articulating what we would choose to believe are honest messages of hope, along with a strong vision to take the country forward.

A look back at the happenings on the Dominican campaign trail shows a very involved Skerrit. While we stay clear of endorsing or challenging the veracity of his statements or showings on the political platform, we cannot help but consider that his strong presence with ordinary Dominicans before and during the elections must have helped to keep the scales in his favour.

In fact, in the CADRES poll, Dominicans gave Mr Skerrit a score of 6.4 for leadership, and 63 per cent of those surveyed indicated he was the preferred choice for leader compared to 37 per cent for his political opponent. Silence is hardly golden for political leaders. This business of appearing to take the lead during an election campaign and then retreating to the shadows after winning the top prize is unacceptable, and deserves to be treated as such by voters.

Barbadians are anxious for a positive word –– indeed any word –– from their democratically elected leader after a year of virtually no economic growth, continued job losses and more taxes.

Another clue to Mr Skerrit’s success may also lie in the island’s state of affairs. The CADRES poll indicated that Dominicans were most concerned about the cost of living and joblessness. The Dominican economy appears to have been holding its own; and a visit to the island would show major development, infrastructurally and otherwise.

In Barbados, growing for us have been financial and health care challenges at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, garbage pile-ups in country and town, and the ever-rising cost of living. Barbadians are crying out for relief.

While we accept there’s no magic wand to solve our economic woes, surely simple communication, a well articulated vision could go a long way in engendering confidence in private life and business, possibly jump-starting societal activity.

The Skerrit administration did not escaped unscathed from yesterday’s poll, since it lost three seats to the other side. Clearly the ruling party must yet take stock, learn from its past mistakes, and most of all avoid complacency.

We expect the opposition United Workers Party will accept the results and move on to take up the task of monitoring how the people’s business is conducted. Our Opposition Barbados Labour Party would do well to note   that voters are in search of answers and results, and that no election victory will be any guaranteed walkover.

Barbadians, like the Dominicans, will opt for a united party that sends a clear message leadership is indeed everything.

5 Responses to It all comes back down to leadership

  1. Gabriel lawrence December 11, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Left to the residenct Dominicans then the UWP would have one the elections..the scales were tipped in the labour party’s dirrection assisted by Barbadians Hartley Henry and Victor Young who were instrumental in ferrying thousands of overseas Dominicans in specific constituencies where labour was thought to be losing..

    Reply
  2. mary joseph December 11, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    FYI…
    The United Workers Party, Team Dominica won the election. The Dominica Labor Party bought the election which was not free and fair. DLP brought in hundreds of voters from overseas, many of whom were not eligible to vote. Our voters lists were never cleansed (the Electoral Commission is useless, did nothing but collected their salaries). Overseas voters got free travel and pocket money. Most of them arrived on charter flights (ask Mr. Hartley Henry) and were here only for a day or two. The election was rigged, thanks to Mr. Henry who is proud to have helped Barbados earn money from his evil deeds. The DLP posters and manifesto were printed in Barbados. Flights were chartered from there. Mr. Henry was sure to take care of his people, while the people of Dominica are continuing to suffer under a corrupt government. This is about corruption and bribery.Is that what you call Leadership? Change is a Must!
    Before you ‘report’ what is happening in Dominica, come here and speak to those of us who have been suffering for 14 years under the DLP.

    Reply
  3. mary joseph December 11, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    I wrote to you today, you didn’t publish it.
    I wonder if it was because I was critical of your article and Mr. Hartley Henry.

    Reply
  4. CHARLES WORRELL December 11, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    A very well written evaluation of things Dominican and indeed Barbadian. Dominica, though small has largely remained Dominica over the years as indeed many other brother/sister nations of the Caribbean. because of this also, corrections in the economy and other sectors do not have the complexity of Barbados’ experience. We in Bim have embraced a ‘world economy’ that we are incapable of sustaining or participating in at the benefit of our people. We gave up the right to sell our country’s natural resources and our people instead opting for a face befitting the metropol. We have allowed the Cost of living to run away and are now lifeless to say to the wealth mongers that this has to be cut back; we have importing the life of a world we know little of or were accustomed to and the backlash is now unmanageable; we concentrated on building structures to measure our development while at the same time incurring billions in debt and all the while, no one said anything. If one had to pose a few questions like these: how much more will we be asked to pay for gas when prices in the world market have consistently dropped; for bread, milk, day to day things; how much farther are we to allow land prices to go and home construction; cars that are less than $35000.00(bds) overseas being sold in Barbados for $80/90/100,000.00 and many time much more while having a bus system that could work but because it has a rival of bandit vans, owned by people in authority, it is unregulated while holding the Transport Brd. to regulations; a Hotel Industry that is now almost foreign owned; Barbados manufacturing now headed by people from other lands; and on and on we can go. When we won the election of 2008, I said then that what is required was a leadership that said ENOUGH! IT WAS TO BE A LEADERSHIP THAT RE-ADJUSTED OUR DIRECTION AND PRIORITY as a people, sadly the man that I believe would have done, fell, to cancer and Barbados is the poorer for it. The wealth gap is growing bigger and bigger; the debt level is atrocious as we continued to encourage a lifestyle that we CANNOT AFFORD. Now, as an international pawn, the plagues of those societies are now ours: drugs of all kinds and diseases of all kinds.
    WHERE do we go? We had a good opportunity recently to put a few things together and instead we chose to ‘sell out”. I am talking about the concessions for the hotel industry. What has the industry done for locals; how many reduced rates of any significant level have taken place to encourage bajans to spend a weekend in the very hotel they are now paying for? We allow/are allowing these people to ignore LOCAL PRODUCERS and bring their stuff in..where must locals market now?It should have been that ALL things produced in Barbados that these enterprises needed must be bought for the LOCALS OR NO CONCESSION..iT WOULD HAVE STIMULATED GROWTH AT MANY LEVELS IN THE COMMUNITY..THIS WAS MISSED and now they get to “bring in” what they want, BUT still have Bajans paying..THIS IS WRONG PERIOD! ITS A SELL OUT PERIOD! THESE PEOPLE continue to come to Barbados, rape us financially and leave as the time comes to put back something in the economy and the sad PART IS THAT WE ALLOW THEM.
    THE DEMOCRATIC LABOR PARTY IS THE PARTY FOR BARBADOS BUT IT MUST STAND UP AND TAKE DECISIONS FOR THE GOOD OF THE COUNTRY AND IN THE TRADITION OF MR. ERROL BARROW, SANDIFORD AND MR. DAVID THOMPSON. THE TIME IS NOW!!

    Reply
  5. Mary Joseph December 12, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    FYI…
    The United Workers Party, Team Dominica won the election. The Dominica Labor Party bought the election which was not free and fair. DLP brought in hundreds of voters from overseas, many of whom were not eligible to vote. Our voters lists were never cleansed (the Electoral Commission is useless, did nothing but collected their salaries). Overseas voters got free travel and pocket money. Most of them arrived on charter flights (ask Mr. Hartley Henry) and were here only for a day or two. The election was rigged, thanks to Mr. Henry who is proud to have helped Barbados earn money from his evil deeds. The DLP posters and manifesto were printed in Barbados. Flights were chartered from there. Mr. Henry was sure to take care of his people, while the people of Dominica are continuing to suffer under a corrupt government. This is about corruption and bribery.Is that what you call Leadership? Change is a Must!
    Before you ‘report’ what is happening in Dominica, come here and speak to those of us who have been suffering for 14 years under the DLP.

    Reply

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