The main Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is seeking to turn the premature release of its 2018 election manifesto from a possible calamity into a plus. And while endorsing the document that is now widely circulated, the BLP has asked Barbadians to provide feedback on its contents.
Addressing party supporters during a well-attended political meeting in St John last night, BLP leader Mia Mottley thanked her colleagues for putting together the promissory document.
“This plan for Barbados . . . is about the people of Barbados. It is about what you want expressed.”
“Even if the Dems want to take piece, they can take piece for their manifesto too,” Mottley said, in reference to the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
Former Attorney General Dale Marshall, who represented St Joseph in the last Parliament, also confirmed last night that the leaked document, a copy of which was obtained by Barbados TODAY, was indeed that party’s plan for charting Barbados’ future over the next five years if it wins the upcoming election, due by early June.
The 52-page document proposes a number of sweeping changes in a range of sectors, including health, culture, education and transportation.
Under the heading, People have Power, commitments have been made for consultations on parliamentary reform, including a fixed elections date and the right of the people to recall representatives whose performance is deemed unsatisfactory.
The fixed elections date would ensure that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s decision to allow Parliament to automatically dissolve on March 6 without announcing a date for the next election, is not repeated here.
While indicating that the document was incomplete, and without divulging how the leak occurred, Marshall, also a former Minister of Home Affairs, said his party stood by it in its current form.
Addressing last night’s Four Roads meeting, Marshall also suggested that the leak was no big deal.
“You don’t hear the Barbados Labour Party running around frantic, ‘Oh Lord our manifesto out there,’” he said, while confirming the authenticity of the leaked manifesto draft.
“It isn’t complete, but even at this stage the Barbados Labour Party would welcome your views, because we are a party that is serious about consultation; and a party that is serious about listening to the voice of the people who elect us,” he said.
“Our manifesto is a document, even in its draft form, is full of substance and promise.
“And I invite each of you to read it. It is all over social media, it’s no secret now,” he added.
Marshall also suggested that his party’s approach was different to the DLP’s when it came to its manifesto.
“The difference between us and them is that we are committed to the things that we published in our manifesto, while for them a manifesto is a document that they put out as a matter of public relations,” he said, accusing the Freundel Stuart led DLP of not listening to the people, and breaking manifesto promises “made to the people of this country last election and the one before”.
Last night, the BLP’s Kerrie Symmonds, who is seeking to hold on to the St James Central seat, also accused the DLP of breaking its manifesto promises, specifically in the area of agriculture.
He charged that in its 2008 manifesto the DLP had promised to introduce protective agricultural legislation within the first 100 days, and to reserve 30,000 acres across the island for agricultural use.
However, while noting that St John had ‘the most fertile of the soils and the largest of the plantations agricultural lands’, Symmonds said plots were still lying idle in areas such as Wakefield, Pool, Clifton Hall, Henley, Todds Estates and Hothersal, where he said, “the sons and daughters of St John could have been put to work”.
He also pointed out that when the BLP left office in 2008, “we left a sugar crop that was bringing 40 tonnes of sugar a year in Barbados [but now] they struggling to get 6.5 or 7,000 tonnes of sugar [per year]”.