Give us new vision
BARBADOS NEEDS a new social, economic and political vision.
This is the message which Catholic priest Vibert Stevens delivered to yesterday’s service of thanksgiving which the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) held at St Leonard’s Boys’ School, as part of its 76th annual conference.
Stevens advised “all members of the BLP to get out and go into the highways and present a new vision” grounded in social democracy, “good values and good political principles”.
He warned that “if you do not change your vision, you will lose a third time”, adding: “There is no reason for losing . . . . You are not losers.”
He told the gathering of party faithful, a large number in red shirts, that social democracy, rooted in principles including hard work, respect for life and community building, would “pave a better way for Barbados” and help the country maintain stability.
He said it also offered affordable and reasonably sized homes for the needy as well as free education and free health care for all.
He advised “those on the campaign road” not to wait until a few days or weeks before an election to start canvassing constituencies, warning: “You will lose.”
He also told canvassers: “Do not worry about if you have money or not. It is not money that wins the heart of people; it’s hope for a better future.”
Stevens told the party “to get out of the mode of winning an election or taking a government” and focus on service to people and the country, creating “a new narrative” and portraying “a new Barbadian civilisation based on religious values and social democracy”.
He urged the party to steer clear of neo-liberalism, which tends to favour free-market capitalism.
The priest complained that this philosophy “has unfortunately dominated the political landscape of Barbados”.
He said the philosophy promoted “dog-eat-dog” competition, boosted unemployment and provided benefits for the few, rather than the majority.
He underscored the importance of free health care and education, saying any government that compromised this principle would end up promoting a special privileged class and allowing the poverty gap to expand.
Stevens said it was “disgraceful” when only a few people could obtain higher education for their children. It was “even more pathetic” when the vast majority of people could not afford it.
It was also worrying when the “poor are trapped in their poverty and they are blamed for it, rather than the system”, he stressed. (TY)