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Harper vows to help Dems rebuild

GERCINE CARTER, [email protected]

Harper vows to help Dems rebuild

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 DEMOCRATIC LABOUR PARTY (DLP) stalwart Nigel Harper has vowed to play a role in the rebuilding and strengthening of the party that failed to win a seat in the just-ended General Election.

Once a DLP luminary, Harper has been absent from the political scene for a number of years. Last week he explained that was largely due to illness which forced him to relocate to the United States for some time to take advantage of the advanced medical services there.

Now he is back in Barbados temporarily, by his own admission still not as strong as he would like, but sufficiently recovered  to have given some support as the DLP campaigned to be re-elected for a third term last month. The crushing defeat is now history, but Harper refuses to lick his wounds.

“I am going to stick with the party through thick and thin,” the 82-year-old told the DAILY NATION last Friday, after hearing the party’s assistant general secretary Andre Worrell deliver the Astor B Watts Lunchtime Lecture, in which he detailed his views on how the DLP must transform. The focus was on transformational leadership.

“We lost this one, virtually gave it away, and we can’t let it happen again,” Harper declared, while disclosing he had forecast a 29-1 defeat for his party. “I saw it coming, so I was not upset,” he added.

He suggested the party might have lost on the basis of its performance, and hinted there might have been some members who were not “truly faithful to the party” and whom he felt should not be allowed to “come back and inveigle themselves into the consciences of our supporters.

“We have got to prepare and the youngsters have got to do it, but I am prepared to operate training courses for the youngest members. I did this when David Thompson won the election, but you know I have been inactive and I am not as sharp as I used to be, but I will do my best to help nurture transition for the DLP.”

As Worrell had also suggested in his lecture, Harper flagged education of young Democrats as one of the planks for building a stronger, re-energised party going forward. His personal agenda included putting a “structure” in place for the functioning of the James Tudor Institute, which he helped found years ago, but which he said had “never functioned during the Stuart administration”.

Harper had a near 40-year career in the Public Service. He was a chief sports officer, cultural affairs officer, served as Deputy High Commissioner to Canada, and was also a former president of the National Union of Public Workers.

He said he believed Community Councils, which were started by late Prime Minister David Thompson and disbanded by Prime Minister Mia Motley’s new administration, following the Barbados Labour Party’s recent victory at the polls, were “an effective way” to stay in touch with communities.

“Politicians seem to be afraid of people in the community . . . . They don’t want to share the power, but it is an effective way of sharing power with the people,” Harper observed.

On Friday, the man whose style of dress used to be a complete white outfit, bore shades of his old look, wearing white slacks and white shoes to match his silvery white hair.

“I will do my best to help nurture transition for the DLP,” Harper promised, adding he planned to remain in Barbados until the DLP held its annual conference. (GC)