A leading political scientist says the outcome of Thurday’s election in the United Kingdom (UK) is a clear rejection by the electorate of the Conservative Party’s austerity programme.
George Belle also warned that the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) here in Barbados would also face similar rejection at the polls, in light of the $542 million austerity package presented by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler last week.
However, Britain’s Conservative Party still managed to hold on to power after forging a coalition arrangement with the Democratic Unionists following last night’s inconclusive result.
“The Conservative Party in England has been practising austerity and the people rejected austerity. The people in Barbados are already rejecting austerity,” Belle said.
He further sought to compare the policies of the ruling DLP with those of the Conservatives in the UK, charging that both parties were practising the same politics of “despair”.
On the other hand, the retired Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, argued that just like the Labour Party in Britain, the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) has come to be regarded by the electorate as the party of “hope”.
“It is the same formula of hope versus despair. The present [DLP] administration offers despair, while the [Opposition] Barbados Labour Party is offering hope,” Belle told Barbados TODAY, while contending that “despair goes with austerity” and that “the current neo-liberal policies, as practised by the Conservatives, led to despair.
In support of Belle’s argument, political strategist Reudon Eversley, said the recent surge by the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party was a revolt against austerity.
“The Labour Party in Britain presented a people-friendly policy [and] the people in England have become tired of austerity,” he said.
“The young people in Britain saw their opportunities dwindled and were energized by Corbyn,” added Eversley, who is predicting that the UK prime minister Theresa May, who now leads a minority government, will not be able to hold on to power for much longer and that Corbyn will replace her before the end of this year.
In Barbados’ case, Eversley argued that the DLP, which has been pushing austerity programmes for the past four years, was likely to suffer the effects of a revolt.
“The Barbadian people are tired of austerity. This year’s Budget shows that the Democratic Labour Party has embarked on a journey of political suicide,” he said.
Also commenting on the UK result, Head of the Department of Government, Sociology & Social Work Dr Tennyson Joseph argued that the good showing by the Labour Party was proof that the socialist agenda was still relevant.
“A lot of us in the Caribbean had abandoned the left agenda solely on the basis of a kind of political opportunism. The abandonment of the agenda arose because we as a people do not think for ourselves.
“On the contrary, Corbyn’s campaign is an example of a left wing politician and activist sticking to his guns,” Joseph said.
Addressing the political future of May, he said she would most likely resign or face a challenge from within her own Conservative Party.
Political scientist and pollster Peter Wickham said Thursday’s vote indicates that May could not secure a swift and effective exit from the European Union for Britain.
“I think that it drags out the [BREXIT] process. It creates a higher level of uncertainty. The pound is already reacting,” he said, adding that “I do not know if this is the best outcome for us in Barbados.
“Leaving the EU is not necessarily the best outcome either,” Wickham added.