By Barry Alleyne | Sun, August 19, 2012 - 12:03 AM
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is a lawyer, but Friday night, he morphed into a history teacher.
And the president and political leader of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) is hoping his history lesson can inspire the membership to an impressive showing at the next general election, constitutionally due by next April.
Speaking at the opening gala of the party’s 57th annual general conference at its George Street Auditorium headquarters, Stuart stretched what was originally to be a five-minute address into a 30-minute history lesson on what the DLP had done since 1955 when it was founded.
The Prime Minister warned the DLP faithful that for them to properly look forward to the future, they should first look back at the strides made by the party in transforming Barbados into the developed society that it is today.
“I am a member of the greatest political party in the Eastern Caribbean,” he said, adding that unlike the Opposition Barbados Labour Party, the DLP had hosted an annual general conference in every year of its existence.
“And when we gather again next year for the 58th conference, we will still be the Government, and achieving higher heights.”
According to Stuart, politics in Barbados would have been poorer were it not for the DLP.
“We are not a conservative party. Conservative parties believe that the people at the top belong at the top and the people at the bottom belong at the bottom. That contradicts sharply what the DLP stands for.”
Stuart said one of the biggest challenges he and the party faced was re-educating Barbados on what the DLP had done.
“We have to re-educate a whole generation about what the DLP means to this country. Much would not be available to average Barbadians had it not been for the foresight of this party. That is why we have the developed society we see today. We even had to fight for Independence because some thought we should have kept colonial masters.”
Stuart said the DLP would be starting a new crusade explaining “how these things we enjoy have come about”.
He reminded the packed auditorium that the DLP had been responsible for important institutions such as the Barbados Community College and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic to further tertiary education, as well as the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies. Stuart also had a special message for young DLP members.
“Know your party’s history. Know what your party has done. The Democratic Labour Party has left its fingerprints all across Barbados. The other party cannot match us in that regard. We have a beauty in our lives that makes them feel ugly.”
He said the next election would not simply be about what the party had been able to do between 2008 and now.
“We are going to market the DLP and what it has done in the past to the people of Barbados,” Stuart promised.
He stressed that the party “has nothing to be ashamed of” regarding its tenure since taking office in 2008. “We’re not finished. We’ve fought a good fight, we’ve kept the faith.”
Stuart reiterated that it upset him that so many young people still did not fully understand the struggle their ancestors went through in order to earn the right to vote.
“I think a special obligation is on the shoulders of our members and candidates to tell young people where this vote came from. Santa Claus didn’t bring it,” Stuart said.
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