Barbados mourns passing of former PM Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford at 86


Barbados’ fourth Prime Minister Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford has died at the age of 86.

Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford

The educator and diplomat was a veteran Democratic Labour Party politician who entered the political fray in 1964 and served the country for more than three decades.

Before ascending to the highest political office on the death of Prime Minister Errol Barrow on June 1, 1987, Sir Lloyd had long been credited as the most significant post-independence education minister, particularly in developing the Barbados Community College and opening new primary and secondary schools.

His brainchild, the development of Sherbourne as a national examination centre, eventually became the island’s premier convention centre which bears his name, the Lloyd Erksine Sandiford Conference Centre.

Sir Lloyd, a product of the Coleridge and Parry, Harrison College, the University of the West Indies and Britain’s University of Manchester contested the 1971 election and won the St Michael South Constituency.

After the DLP lost the 1976 election to the Barbados Labour Party, it bounced back in 1986 with Sir Lloyd defeating BLP MP Lionel Seymour Craig in the Saint Michael South constituency. He was appointed Deputy Prime Minister under Barrow for barely a year before Barrow’s death from a heart attack.

Leading the DLP to victory in the 1991 elections, he held the additional portfolio of Minister of Finance during the country’s worst economic crisis since independence when the country entered into a structural adjustment programme with the International Monetary Fund. The period of austerity led to a wave of national protests and fears of a devaluation of the Barbados dollar.

Those fears subsided as the economy began to stabilize after the controversial imposition of an across-the-board eight-per cent cut in public sector salaries. Sandiford stepped down from the finance ministry but a revolt by fellow cabinet ministers led to a successful no-confidence motion.

Sandiford then called elections for 1994 two years before they were constitutionally due, but lost to the BLP led by Owen Arthur. He remained in Parliament until 1999 when he focused on being a tutor at the Barbados Community College where he taught economics and Caribbean Politics.

In 2000, Sandiford was made a Knight of St. Andrew (KA) of the Order of Barbados. In April 2008 under Prime Minister David Thompson a resolution was brought to the Parliament of Barbados that the building now called the Sherbourne Conference Centre, which in fact was the idea and brainchild of Sir Lloyd, should be renamed the Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Conference Centre.

Sandiford was later appointed as Barbados’ first Ambassador to China, presenting his credentials on 3 March 2010.

He is survived by wife Angelita, Lady Sandiford,  son Garth, daughter Inga and his extended family.