Most Barbadians grew up with a two-party political system based on the Westminster Model of the UK House of Commons. While this has ostensibly served us well since our independence, we find ourselves at a standstill, hemmed in by the confines of a tradition that no longer serves the majority.
The inequality between the rich and the poor is becoming a serious cause for concern; most Barbadians feel stifled by regulations that hinder creative and economic freedom. Political partisanship and party politics have not empowered the average citizen, leaving them with a growing sense of disillusionment.
Progressivism has revolutionized the democratic world. Great reformers of the last century have moved their society forward through progressive ideas. American President Theodore Roosevelt declared that he “always believed that wise progressivism and wise conservatism go hand in hand”.
In response to World War I, progressive 28th American President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points established the concept of national self-determination and criticized imperialist competition and colonial injustices.
British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli developed progressive conservatism under “One-nation”. In Imperial Germany, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck enacted various progressive social welfare measures while maintaining industrial revolution.
A progressive movement is not new to Barbadians. Our national heroes Right Excellencies Charles Duncan O’neal and Grantley Adams captured the imagination of Barbados with their vision of a progressive society. In fact, Grantley Adams’ first political organization was called The Progressive League. The Progressive era changed the society permanently; every aspect of modern life shows the impact of the reformers of this era.
It’s time to chart a new course of empowerment for our people and our country. We face both internal and external economic challenges that have caused economic, political, and societal stagnation. Progressive ideas have always served Barbados well when we are confronted with such a crisis, because progressivism promotes social justice and equality.
Progressivism has answered the call with a multi-layered societal approach of progress, which asserts advancements in science, technology, economic development, and social organization.
The United Progressive Party embraces all these ideas; our policies are all-inclusive. The community should nurture and support all its members. We propose to take the best parts of “village life” and use them as a blueprint to develop societies where everyone can fulfill their dreams and potential.
We are here to build upon those foundations through political education and political reform. Political progressivism in the Barbados context is an essential political movement to propel us to growth.
Self-determination, freedom with opportunity, responsibility to all, and cooperation among all are the hallmarks of a progressive society. Government purpose is to secure the rights of all its citizens while advancing a high quality of life for the entire society.
Creating entrepreneurial opportunities, encouraging citizens to be involved in cutting edge industries, securing good paying jobs and adequate benefits for workers with sustainable economic growth is an economy that works for everyone.
This can be achieved through political and regulatory reform aimed at helping Government improve its social responsibility while creating an environment for competition, innovation and growth.
Whether you were a progressive or not, we all have goals and ideas of how we wish to see our society advance. Ending corruption and monopolies, advancing consumer rights and clean governance, effecting change through efficiency will solve many of the challenges currently faced by our country.
Currently, the majority of our citizens are feeling marginalized and disenfranchised. With the loss of free tertiary education, many people consider university education to be unattainable; the United Progressive Party believes that Barbados has a duty to provide education for its citizens at all levels, free at the point of delivery.
The Progressive Agenda draws together radical thinkers and social pioneers to explore progressive thought and ideas for equitable sustainable growth. Progressives are everywhere. Our main purpose is to promote economic, social and environmental justice and sustainability through electoral and other democratic political activities.
Representative democracy requires empowering people not only in government but participation of the entire society. Wealth should not be concentrated in the hands of a few; everyone is entitled to decent work, at a living wage, in a safe working environment. Economic sustainability and taxes should be shared based on ability to pay.
We must be an inclusive society in all aspects of economic and civil life, creating a balance of power between the competing forces of labour and capital while reconnecting and making politics relevant to ordinary people.
Open debate amongst progressive political thinkers about what values matter to the general public in a global technological environment is needed. The debate must take into account trends such as global warming and the legalization of marijuana. The United Progressive Party is committed to a comprehensive environmental policy from waste management to renewable energy. We are also committed to reviewing the current policy with respect to marijuana use, with a view to exploring medical marijuana and decriminalization of small amounts for personal use.
The global financial crisis and the impact on small island economies must be put into debate while paying close attention to how history treated these trends. While the traditional parties are consumed with firing public sector employees and restructuring debt, we will invest in the development of our people and increasing revenue.
Many are tired of social and economic divisions. The political climate matters to a lot of people. Values, ethical behavior and social responsibilities matter; this is why we believe that development should be centred around active communities.
We want to restore a sense of shared interests, values, and commitment in our society. To do that, we need to discuss programmes and policies that are centred around a vision for our country that is inclusive, equitable, and fair.