BLP COLUMN: Awake but dreaming
There is no doubt that most Barbadians feel that the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) erred greatly in choosing not to participate in THE NATION’s recent Talkback session.
The forum gave the public the opportunity to directly question representatives of political parties about their organizations’ stance on various current national issues and learn of their plans for the future growth and development of Barbados.
The DLP’s excuses for its no-show varied from the unbelievable (“Everybody had to attend the night’s lecture by the Prime Minister”) to the ridiculous (“Feeling disrespected by the manner of the invitation to participate”).
But then, the true reason behind the Dems’ boycott was revealed when it became clear that all along they had planned their own show of strength events, in the form of a mass canvass of the three St James constituencies followed next day by a joint meeting of the three branches.
However, rather than the events becoming memorable for the DLP’s muscles-flexing erasing the popular perception that the party had run away from a head-to-head contest with the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), the DLP was to suffer an even more grievous self-inflicted injury when political leader Prime Minister Freundel Stuart sought to issue the would-be ominous warning that the “sleeping giant” that was the DLP had “now been awakened”.
Any hope that Stuart’s declaration of political war would drive fear into the hearts and minds of the BLP were dashed, however, and replaced by widespread public ridicule on realization of the seriously indictable implications of his use of the phrase that a sleeping giant had recently been awakened. Not something that people expected from a man who has long projected himself as a wordsmith who chooses words with extreme care and consideration.
To announce that opponents had pulled the tail of a quiet tiger or lion would have carried ominous connotations of dread. But to speak of “now being awakened” was to simply reinforce the long-held and spoken perception of Barbadians that for most of its nearly five years in Government, the DLP would have had to be deeply asleep for persisting with its policies despite abundant evidence of their chronic failure in constantly rising prices, economic stagnation, increasing unemployment, the unresolved CLICO disaster, burgeoning corruption and deteriorating governance.
The last time the DLP was fully awake was during the 2008 election campaign when it made numerous extravagant manifesto promises, at least 92 of which it has broken and ignored. Since then, prolonged sleep has also been seen in failure, except for one occasion and the 2011 St John by-election campaign, to interact with the country through mass public meetings.
Hiding from the general public at branch meetings allows the “awakened” DLP to dream that instead of providing solutions to, and hope in the midst of, the nightmare that is daily life for so many Barbadians, people will accept as worthy substitutes the outpourings of personal harangue and invective that mark its gatherings of the converted.
Meanwhile, the BLP under Owen Arthur continues to present the public with informed analysis and constructive alternative policies, as will be done again on Sunday, October 23, 2012, at Rices Pavilion, Rices, St Philip.
• Beresford Leon Padmore is a pseudonym for the Barbados Labour Party.