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DLP ‘lost its way’

JOHN SEALY, [email protected]

DLP ‘lost its way’

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The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) got a 30-0 whipping from the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in last General Election because it was no longer “for the people”.

And for it to be resurrected from the political ashes, the party must bury some of its old leadership baggage.

That was the frank assessment from outgoing High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Reverend Guy Hewitt, as he addressed the annual general meeting of the DLP’s United Kingdom branch in London on Sunday.

He attributed the May 24 defeat to a “most egregious, homophobic, boarding (sic) on misogynistic, election campaign, [that] created a serious and fatal disconnect between the Government and the governed”.

The Anglican cleric also took a swipe at the leadership.

“Political leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence, inspiration and integrity. Impact involves getting results, influence is about creating and spreading a vision, inspiration is to get others to follow you, and integrity is the means to ensure that what is done, happens in a just and compassionate manner.

“If and when a political leader senses that he has run his course, he has a duty and responsibility to share that well in advance with those he leads, and where necessary, make way . . . ,” he added.

But Hewitt said the party hierarchy and candidates had to take some responsibility “for their failure to act when they should have known better”.

“Between 2008 when the DLP was elected to office and 2018 when they were routed at the polls . . . there was a sense amongst the populous that the DLP were no longer ‘for the people’,” said Hewitt, who noted he was asked to give his opinion on the results.

Other factors he stressed included:

 the seeming failure of the last administration to communicate effectively and account to the people;

 the imposition of an unmanageable tax burden;

 the ignoring of rumours of corruption; and

 the release of a manifesto that contained simplistic errors and was issued after the special electors had voted.

He declared he was not a member of the DLP, nor was he speaking “as high commissioner . . . nor as a priest . . . but as a fellow Barbadian”.

Hewitt, who was rumoured to have been interested in running for the St John seat, said the party losing nearly every box in every constituency, and no candidate coming within 500 votes of the nearest winner, “says it all”.

“However, nothing was more symbolic of the disconnect between the DLP and the people of Barbados than the inconceivable loss of St John, the former seat of . . . Errol Walton Barrow, and the spiritual home of the Democratic Labour Party.”

He however told party faithful in London the DLP was “far from dead”, but it had to drop the “baggage”.

“This baggage was created following the death of Errol Barrow and then got piled upon thereafter. First it was the split in the party with the emergence of the NDP [National Democratic Party] which caused the loss of a significant cadre of leaders; then the leadership crisis in the early 1990s, the no-confidence in Parliament, the loss of a further cadre of leaders and the election defeat that followed.

“Then came the leadership crisis in the late 1990s, the emergence of Owen [Arthur], the politics of inclusion and in 1999, another major electoral defeat and the further haemorrhage of future leaders. This confluence of events gave rise to the millennial DLP with a depleted core leadership and which, to some onlookers, seemed to have lost its way and possibly its soul. The consequence of all this culminated in the May 2018 political slaughter.” (JS)