The ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) is made up of a number of selfish “careerists” who practice the politics of abandonment when the going gets tough, noted political scientist Dr George Belle has charged.
Yet, the former Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus has warned the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) that it cannot expect to win the next general election unless it makes the principles of social democracy part of its fundamental and distinctive characteristics.
Speaking last night at a BLP St Philip North branch meeting at the St Mark’s Resource Centre in Blades Hill, Belle accused the DLP of abandoning the policy of free tertiary education implemented by the country’s first Prime Minister Errol Barrow. He also warned that the end of free universal health care could be near.
“They don’t represent any cause. These are not social democrats. That is why they can tear down free university education. They would make you pay to go to the hospital saying that if you cannot pay something is wrong with you, because you are not successful,” he said to nods of agreement from BLP supporters.
In comparing the two parties, Belle said there were “some fellas that don’t represent no cause; what they represent is careerism, interested in themselves, selfishness, greed”.
However, making particular reference to former Prime Minister Owen Arthur, he said the BLP tended to navigate under pressure and not abandon social democracy.
The political scientist contended that although Arthur sought to allow capitalism to flourish, he “did not take down university education, he strengthened it”.
“These guys [the DLP] have surrendered and taken away the support from the students and if necessary make the people pay for public health. So you get abandonment under pressure from the DLP and you are getting navigation to save under the Barbados Labour Party, and that is the distinction that I am going to make,” he said in his speech on the relevance of parties in relation to a post-independence period and the chances of the BLP winning the 2018 general election.
Belle also flagged a number of other areas he said the BLP needed to change urgently if it wanted to win the next election.
Chief among these, he explained, was a “ground plan” similar to that of the United States Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders who he said inherited President Barrack Obama’s plan.
He said Sanders has engaged the attention of the youth who are rebelling against “the greedy people, the selfish people, the self-centred people. That’s what those young people have done in the States”.
“If you can respond to the young people here in the right way, you can tell them that your party built social democracy and you have to defend it and it gives you hope for the future. Greed is not going to give you that; selfishness is not going to give you that, so a big part of the responsibility of the Barbados Labour Party is that narrative. But I don’t know if you have time to do it for the next general election.
“The next election will be one that will be won the very traditional way; that the other party is going to lose and you will win. But if you are going to win in terms of that too, you have to be organized on the ground.”
Belle also advised the BLP to tap into the technological revolution now taking place in the country.