Three weeks after the May 24 general elections, one of this island’s newest political parties appears to be falling apart.
Barbados TODAY understands that major splintering has occurred within three-year-old Solutions Barbados, with at least a dozen of the 28 candidates who contested last month’s poll under the party’s banner having left the party and are now in the process of putting together their own political grouping.
The bitter break up stems from the refusal of several former Solutions candidates to give in to their leader’s demand that they sign contracts binding them to severe financial penalties in the amount of US$1 million if they opt to leave Solutions Barbados to join another political party.
While confirming to Barbados TODAY that nine unnamed members had left the party, Solutions Barbados leader Grenville Phillips II sought to suggest that there was no conflict to speak of within the party, which copped the third highest number of votes in last month’s poll, with 4,188 of the ballots cast, behind the winners, the Barbados Labour Party which 111, 968 votes, and the Democratic Labour Party, which was voted out after receiving support from just 33,985 voters.
Downplaying the resignations, Phillips argued that it was a simple matter of some members wanting to take a moment to determine their next step after a trying election campaign.
“We are grateful to everyone who ran. They are all exceptional people and experts in their fields. The electorate has spoken but most of us intend to continue advocating for our policies. However, some are not willing to make that commitment and that’s quite okay. We thank them for running and we are really happy for their contribution,” he said.
The party leader also contended that it was not unusual for political parties to undergo such changes immediately after an election, especially among parties that lost.
“Five years is a long time and some may have decided to take a break from politics to take care of their businesses. It is a normal thing that is happening to all political parties. The reality is that if you are going to run for this party, candidates must sign a contract. We will be accountable to the people of Barbados,” he explained.
However, one of the disgruntled former candidates who spoke to Barbados TODAY on condition of anonymity said Phillips was grossly understating the seriousness of the development.
He explained that meetings were held as recently as last week with the aim of removing Phillips from the leadership position. The source further revealed that an emissary was also dispatched to the party leader with hopes of finding a solution to the impasse, but that effort failed, leaving the departed members with little choice but to take their political aspirations elsewhere.
“He told us last week that we had until 4 p.m. Friday to sign these contracts or we will no longer be candidates of the party. He further reminded us that the party’s constitution says that it has no members, save those that are candidates. So essentially what he did was kick us out. It is 12 of us that have said that we not signing any million-dollar contract,” said the source, who accused the Solutions Barbados leader of behaving like a dictator.
“I believe that he wants to be a dictator and certainly the smart ones in the party don’t want any part of that. We are not going to promote anyone who has a dictatorial agenda because we are about democracy,” the source added.
Two months ago, the party leader was slapped with resignation letters following a request two weeks earlier by several of his candidates – many of whom own businesses – for a review of a clause in their contracts. The letters were later rescinded and the party contested the elections with just two candidates shy of a full slate.
However, despite this apparent recurring contentious issue, Phillips is convinced that the party is still on solid footing.
“We are currently working on a number of issues, we are letting our voices be heard and we are still in the communities every week. We are not canvassing but we are being visible and letting people know that we are still here. Every day we are getting more encouragement from the people we interact with. We are getting new suggestions so we are thinking about them.”
“What we are not going to do is to put stumbling blocks in the way of the current Government so that they fail. We are going to work with Government as much as we can and we are even going to give them unsolicited advice. Whenever they [Government] is going wrong we are going to keep a lot of noise. We will do all this in the name of being a responsible opposition,” he stressed. [email protected]