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Barbados Uncensored

Beyond the News, Inside the Issues

Political Punditry and the 2022 Barbados Election Part 1

Dec 31, 2021

Last Updated on January 4, 2022 11:20 am by Editor

“Ignore the political scientists and pundits”. That is the advice one social media commentator has been giving the Democratic Labour Party, one of the established parties vying for power in the 2020 election.

It is a sentiment expressed by both ruling parties and opposition parties alike whenever the political polls are not in their favour.  On this occasion, however, thanks to Mia Mottley’s lightning move, there are no polls to reference!

So far, what we have in the way of political punditry, is the opinion of Peter Wickham who has earned a reputation for his political polling across the Caribbean and the reported opinion of two political scientists associated with the UWI (University of the West Indies) Cave Hill, Barbados.

The views of both Dr. George Bell, retired political scientist, UWI and Dr. Katrina Hinds, current Senior Lecturer in Political Science at the same institution, were both reported by the NationNews of Thursday 30 December.

You decide whether you will agree with that social media commentator as we explore the opinions of these three pundits. 

Mr. Wickham’s contribution will be dealt with first since it was so concise. “I still see it as a one-horse race” he was reported as saying on CBC 7.00 PM news today Thursday 30 December.

For those who are living “over in away” as we Bajans are apt say, what Mr. Wickham means is that he sees the ruling party, the BLP as winning the election. 

I will give Mr. Wickham the benefit of the doubt and blame the editorial discretion at CBC for omitting to indicate or to ask Mr. Wickham whether he sees a reduced majority for the BLP- if they win.

Elsewhere, Mr. Wickham admitted that he too was taken by surprise by Ms. Mottley’s move, the strategic rationale for which we have explained in our recent article here.

What Mr. Wickham’s surprise means is that he was not able to conduct a poll in Barbados.  This is understandable since the covid-19 monster is still much alive and Mr. Wickham resides in France with his same sex spouse.

So what is the scientific basis for his assessment? Apart from Mr. Wickham’s unconcealed favourable bias towards Ms. Mottley, your guess is as good as any.

If the study of politics is going to be scientific at all, it has to be based on impartially collected and analyzed data. That is the fundamental procedural logic or methodology of all sciences, including the so-called social sciences of which politics is one example.

Of course, there are those who would argue that there is no such thing as “social science”.  But that is another discussion.

Now it is true that one can analyze time series data to gain some rough understanding of the likelihood of events in a situation – in this case an election- in the absence of current data. However, no such analysis accompanied Mr. Wickham’s proclamation.

UWI Pundits

Low voter turnout and complacency on the part of the ruling party are the two main explanatory variables that Drs. Bell and Hinds have used to predict possible direction of the election.  Dr. Hinds argued that “pandemic fatigue” might demotivate people from going to the polling booth. 

Unlike Mr. Wickham, Dr. Belle was careful not to predict a winner directly.  His theoretical analysis gives the readers and party strategists some sense of the issues which may have to be treated as critical.

Dr. Belle may have overstated the impact of the Omicron variant on the explanatory variable of “turnout”. In a 16-line paragraph, he laid out a prediction for the spread of the variant, omitting to add that the variant, though it spreads more rapidly, is much less lethal.  

For one fleeting moment in the report, one could easily have mistaken Dr. Belle as issuing a covid-19 unit bulletin. However, as of today, 30 December, only one case of the variant has been reported in the country.

In seeking to justify the early election, Dr. Belle again invoked the Omicron variant and suggested that “the idea is to do the election as early as possible, as there was no telling what might occur for the rest of the year”  (Nation News 30 December 2021, p.4)

While that may be true, Dr. Belle is neatly circumventing Ms. Mottley’s cunning of holding the election in a period where there has already been some relaxation of covid-19 restrictions coming into the Xmas period.  

The “smart” move is simply to extend the Xmas ease rather than the alternative of easing restrictions for the sole purpose of the elections later.

Go to Part 2 

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Dr. Aldon Tull, the author, is a retired educator who holds a Master of Science in International Marketing and the Doctor of Education. 

He can be reached at editor@barbadosuncensored.com at 246-228-3720 or on Whatsapp at 246-846-3191

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