A member of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) old guard and his protégé have stopped just short of ridiculing stalwart Robert Bobby Morris’ advise to the party to reject any offers to take up seats in the Senate.
Former Minister of Social Transformation Hamilton Lashley and the man who sought to mimic his every political move, Rodney Grant, today said it would be a dereliction of duty if the DLP does not accept the seats, which would open up through a proposed constitutional amendment.
As matter of fact Lashley identified Grant, the losing DLP candidate in St Michael South East, and Henderson Williams, who was whipped in The City, as his picks to take the offer extended by Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
Lashley, who assisted the campaigns of both Grant and Williams, argued that to reject the offer would be an insult to voters who maintained their faith in the DLP despite the massive nationwide shift in support.
“There are obviously persons who had faith in the DLP and put their support behind them and to miss this opportunity would be to dismiss those persons who went out to the polls and this would make us guilty of the same old behaviour of which we have been accused,” Lashley said as he offered his views on the way forward for the DLP after Thursday’s humiliating loss to the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in the general election in which it mustered just 22 per cent of the approximately 153,745 votes cast, compared by 72.63 per cent by the BLP.
At a news conference at the Marcus Garvey Resource Centre in The Pine, St Michael, Lashley, who jumped from the DLP to the BLP and back to the DLP before he retired from active politics, told reporters the DLP must focus on rebuilding the party through young talent.
Therefore, he said, it was only fitting that the newcomers be given the opportunity to serve in Opposition, albeit in the Senate.
“The Democratic Labour Party has to be very serious now. It can no longer be an old boys club, and it is a new dimension. I know the old boys and old girls club would like to pick from among themselves. I strongly believe that one of those persons has to be Rodney Grant. The other should be a young person like Henderson Williams,” the former representative for The Pine said.
Like Lashley, Grant jumped from the DLP to the BLP and back to the DLP in order to contest the recent poll in the seat which Lashley first won in 1994 while still a member of the Dees, before jumping ship to join the then Owen Arthur administration during the period of Arthur’s so-called politics of inclusion. He held onto the seat until his retirement in 2013, but returned home to the DLP after it defeated Arthur in 2008.
Grant, who has been a Lashley disciple, today shared his mentor’s position on the Senate issue, as he admonished his party to grab the opportunity with both hands.
“If there is an opportunity to represent the country I believe that they [DLP] should take it. Although the electorate dismissed the entire DLP candidacy, I believe that any opportunity to speak on behalf of the people is good for democracy. I think democracy would be weakened without any opposing voice,” Grant said, while going on to state that he would also respect the DLP’s decision to fight on behalf of the people outside of Parliament.
With just 33, 985 votes, the Dems suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the BLP, failing to win a single seat in the 30-member House of Assembly, meekly surrendering even its bedrock, St John, in the process.
Had it won at least one seat, it would have had the opportunity to name two senators as provided for in the Constitution, which makes provision for the Opposition to appoint two senators in the 21-member Upper Chamber.
However, in the absence of an official opposition, newly-appointed Prime Minister Mia Mottley revealed on Saturday she had discussed a proposed amendment with Governor General Dame Sandra Mason, which would allow the party securing the second largest number of votes in the election to name the two Opposition senators.
However, Morris quickly shot down the idea telling Barbados TODAY in a interview yesterday, such an arrangement was unnecessary since his party would prefer to earn its place in Parliament.
“My view is the Democratic Labour Party would be getting back their seats and claiming rightfully by that action, their place in the legislature in due course. I think that is going to happen. So I don’t think there is any necessity to create a position specially at this point in time. The Opposition in Parliament is not the only type of opposition that is possible. But I don’t think the Democratic Labour Party wants to be compromised in terms of their participation,” the former campaign manager said.