The major problem facing the ruling Democratic Labour Party is not that it has not served the people of Barbados well.
It is, said Minister of Health and Parliamentary representative for St. James South, Donville Inniss, that its members have not done a good public relations job to ensure that their achievements are known by all.
In contrast, he said, the Barbados Labour Party, which was characterised by intellectual laziness while in office, had developed a formidable electioneering machinery that capitalised heavily on public relations tactics.
But with the country already in election mode, it was essential that the Dems ramp up their public relations programme, he advised.
“Let me say as we go into election more,” Inniss told persons attending a meeting of his branch yesterday, “or rather, I think we are already in election mode, I believe we have to do something that my party has not done well over the past four and half years. It is important that we be very critical of ourselves from time to time, and not sit back and believe our own propaganda… Sometimes we have to step back and listen to others.
“I am satisfied that as a Government, as a political party we have done very well, particularly when we operate on a belief that Barbados is not just an economy – it is a society. We have provided more housing solutions in four and a half years that Owen Arthur and the BLP did in 14 years.
“We have been able to keep our education intact. The school term starts tomorrow and I am not hearing of one school that was delayed in reopening, which was very much the norm under the former government.”
The health minister drew references to the state of health care in the United Kingdom where persons had to wait longer for some medical service than in Barbados, he said, and pointed to Grenada where unemployment exceeded 30 per cent and St. Lucia where it topped 20 per cent.
Speaking further to the “achievements” of the DLP Government, Inniss said: “As minister I must not be seen to be blowing my own trumpet … but I believe that if I were not Donville Inniss I would say that our health care system has also been drastically improved…
“[The Bees always boast about] the robustness, growth and health of the economy and Government finances during [their] tenure … but yet still public servants had the worst physical conditions under you. This Government, faced with economic challenges has still be creative enough to find solutions whereby public servants generally speaking can now tell you that they have far superior working environments than what existed 1994 and 2007…
“So we have done reasonably well as a Government because we have stood steadfast in our belief that Barbados is not just an economy, but it is a society.”
He added: “But I started by saying that there are some things we have not done right, and one of them is communication. All of us as party members, all of us as ministers, can sit among ourselves and be full of praise for all the good things we have done, but I don’t think that as a political party and as a Government we have had an effective public relations and an effective communications strategy.
“I admire the BLP on that score. The BLP is an electioneering machine, so whatever they do … they have a way of making everybody believe it is the best thing that has been done in the world since the creation of slice bed…
“The truth of the matter is that perhaps as a Government, as a political party, we have operated on the belief that what we do we do for the people of Barbados, and we should do it without any fanfare or song and dance.
“But as you go around constituency after constituency and listen to those who may not be members of the party … you start to get a little concerned when they say to you they can’t really point out all the good that you claim you have done. That tells me we have not had a sustained communications strategy and programme over the past four and a half years, and as a political party it is something that we have to get right over the next couple of weeks.
“We cannot lose the public relations battle. I believe that every minister, every MP must stand and let their voices be heard about the good things they have done.” (RRM)