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EDITORIAL: Era of messianic party leader over


EDITORIAL: Era of messianic party leader over

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POLITICAL PARTIES can change a country, while people can change political parties –sometimes in ways least expected.

The public saga involving the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) and its elected parliamentarian for Christ Church West, Dr Maria Agard, may very well prove to be the crossing of the Rubicon in local politics.

It is very possible after Sunday’s meeting of the party’s national executive to consider the nine charges that Dr Agard may end up on the losing end of this battle, but the party has to be careful it does not lose the war.

That many of the charges laid against her have to do with giving information to the NATION newspaper and speaking on Starcom Network’s radio talk-show or putting up comments on Facebook seems trivial. Rather than less information, the reality is that more information needs to be made public, especially if the public is to have a better understanding of how all the institutions of state, including the established political parties, operate.

Those in the hierarchy of the BLP and indeed their counterparts in the opposing Democratic Labour Party must recognise that we are in a different era, one that calls for consensus building and not dominance by a messianic political leader. That things were always done a certain way and that you blindly followed the party whip cannot be the situation tomorrow. Parties must start to modernise.

The BLP’s leadership must be well aware that political parties are not homogeneous organisations and have always had differing views within their ranks. The actions and reactions of the past cannot be applied today. People frustrated with the old political agenda demand something new and enlightening

Dr Agard is not part of any protest movement agitating against the leadership of her party, but may best be seen as one of what the sociologists and human behaviour specialists are describing as “expressive individualists”, who are gradually rising within the ranks of political organisations worldwide.

We need only look at what is happening in the United States, where in the campaign for the 2016 presidential election at least three rank outsiders are front-runners in the contest for the established parties.

The BLP may act firmly against Dr Agard with much reaction from the vocal minority. But the silent majority, the wider public, will be watching eagerly and coming to their own conclusions.

Hopefully, the BLP’s leadership recognises the level of cynicism amongst people at all levels about political parties. People are not enthused with the performance of MPs; some even feel voting is a waste of time, since the first-past-the-post electoral system renders their vote meaningless, especially in a safe seat constituency.

Barbados needs elected politicians who are “colour-blind” despite their affiliation, and don’t simply follow party lines. Dr Agard’s actions may very well shape the public discourse within parties.