A stalwart of the defeated Democratic Labour Party (DLP) is calling on the party to regroup and evaluate what led to the humiliating defeat in last week’s general election, which saw the Freundel Stuart-led political organization losing all 30 seats at stake, including its bedrock of St John.
Retired trade unionist Ulric Sealy made the call while delivering the regular Astor Watts lunchtime lecture at the DLP George Street headquarters this afternoon.
Sealy told the party it must look to change its fortunes by embarking on an intensive and expansive sustainable education programme for the development of political literacy within the membership, potential members and general public.
“Political literacy is about helping people become politically aware. It is about giving them the ability to read issues and events politically . . . [to become] politically conscious,” he suggested.
He said this meant using the ideas, language, forms of thought and argument which citizens can use when dealing with a public issue.
The DLP stalwart also said the party should develop programmes that allow members and potential members to embrace knowledge which helps them to understand the nature of political institutions.
“The critical thing to promoting political literacy . . . also has to engage an evaluation exercise of all of its organs to ascertain commonality on vision, mission, goals and values,” Sealy said, adding that this must also include a determination and commitment to the cause.
The retired trade unionist also urged the DLP to ensure that it constantly maintains an excellent political profile in the community.
“This one is critical. You hear the cry from persons ever so often, ‘I don’t know when last time I see he [Member of Parliament]’ and around election time and he appears in your church . . . and [people say], ‘where he now come from . . . he now know the church?’ You have to understand Barbadians. All between election one and election two, you have to do certain things,” he suggested.
Sealy urged party members who are contesting the polls not to be strangers to their constituents, and he encouraged those who lost at the polls to turn to the scriptures for solace rather than to “the other battered souls”.
Those sentiments were echoed by the man in whose name the DLP lectures are being held.
Watts recommended that the DLP should return to the drawing board and search for answers to its massive defeat.
“What we have to do now within the bowels of the Democratic Labour Party is to regroup, search our own consciences, think where we went wrong, what is the solution . . . because all is not lost,” Watts contended.
The DLP senior member told his colleagues they ought not be ashamed of the defeat, but embrace it and talk about the issues.
“I had been worried when we lost the election, and . . . I never thought it would be so resounding a defeat. And I say this, and if I have to apologize, I will. Something went wrong . . . I cannot put my finger on it,” Watts declared.
He spoke of monitoring the results in St Michael West, where the Barbados Labour Party’s Bishop Joseph Artherley – who today crossed the floor and was sworn in as Leader of the Opposition – was challenging the DLP incumbent Michael Carrington.
Watts said when he heard Atherley had polled 700 votes in one box compared to “a few” by Carrington, he suggested to his son-in-law this could not be right.
“If he [Atherley] had 700 and he [Carrington] had 400, I would say that is a fight. But there was no fight in any of the constituencies . . . not one, not one,” he exclaimed.
The DLP elder recalled that he was so overcome by the results, that he had to get a cup of tea and rub his head with “something”.
“And when the news came over . . . 30 and nothing between the 30, I said, ‘Lord have mercy . . . where are we?’” Watts lamented.