Following its decision last year to abolish free tertiary education, a University of the West Indies (UWI) political scientist last night accused the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government of “killing” the philosophy of its founding father and national hero Errol Walton Barrow.
In a scathing attack on the party, led by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart Head of the Department of Government, Sociology and Social Work at UWI, Cave Hill, Dr Tennyson Joseph also suggested that this year’s celebrations of the island’s 50th anniversary of political independence should really take the form of “a wake”, in recognition of the death of Barrow’s “social democratic project”.
Joseph, who spared no insult for the current administration, further accused it of distancing itself from Barrow’s ideals in the wake of a report given by the local campus last week, which showed that its student enrolment had slumped by about 30 per cent during the 2014/2015 academic year, from close to 9,000 prior to Government’s introduction of tuition fees for Barbadian students to 6,065 at present.
“I have said it before and I will say it here again that if we are celebrating Barrow and independence in Barbados, that celebration is in the form of a wake,” said Joseph, who argued strongly that “Barrow’s philosophy has not only died, but it was killed by the very party he created.
“If there is any celebration we are celebrating a wake,” he contended, while noting that the independence project, which began in the 1930s, was a social democratic revolution.
“The Moyne commissioners were social democrats of the English Fabian tradition. It was a Fabian project and it was a commonsense project,” Joseph explained.
He also credited Barrow for being the architect of the “homegrown” social democratic project, while arguing that had he and other leaders of his time been approached by the International Monetary Fund with one of its economic packages, they would have reject it.
“I was hoping that when the IMF comes with its normal package we [too] would have people who would say, ‘no, no, this is a home grown project – Barbados is about free education; Barbados is about a social democratic framework and Barbados is about ensuring that poor children getting their education’. I expected our leadership to do that,” he said.
However, he lamented that current leaders did not follow the same ideals of the late DLP founder.
Turning his attention to the local trade union movement, Joseph said it was also in crisis due to the fact that its leadership had allowed itself to fall for political gains, while arguing that “half the trade union leadership was DLP and the half was BLP [Barbados Labour Party].
“So when a BLP Government is in power and the leadership has BLP leaning, no industrial action is taken. Similarly, when a DLP administration is in power and the trade union leadership has leaning to the DLP no industrial action is taken,” he explained.
However, he pointed out that the region’s first independence revolution was a single state independence, while suggesting that “we should learn from the experience”.
“The first independence revolution was a single state independence because the late Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Eric Williams using his new maths had said that one from ten leaves nought. However, that has exhausted itself. The first independence revolution has reached its full capacity and limits,” he said, adding, “The second independence revolution must deal with that Humpty Dumpty.
“We must put him together again and place him on his wall.”
Joseph was speaking during a celebration marking the first anniversary of the launch of the Caribflame website at the Pelican Craft Centre, Pelican Village, The City.