Apologize to the people of Barbados!
This was the solemn advice issued today by former Government Senator Dr David Durant to the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), as it embarks on an uphill rebuilding process following its recent decimation at the polls.
While decrying the “character assassination and verbal abuse” which occurred on the DLP platform during the May 24 general election campaign, Durant called on DLP candidates to “avoid and erase from your vocabulary and platform presentations all forms of character assassination, derogatory remarks, verbal abuse, swearing and expletives”.
In fact, an animated Durant, who is also founder and senior pastor of Restoration Ministries, said: “I don’t think the 21st century electioneering campaign has any room for that low-flying entertainment diatribe.”
Delivering the latest in the series of Astor B Watts’ lunchtime lectures at the DLP’s George Street headquarters, Durant further suggested that such conduct, along with arrogance and a failure to effectively communicate with the masses were among the reasons the former governing party was totally rejected at the polls and swept from office in dramatic fashion by the Mia Mottley-led Barbados Labour Party, which claimed all 30 seats at stake.
Stressing the need for communication, he said, “sadly, this was the Achilles heel in the camp of the Democratic Labour Party.
“It became an albatross around the neck of the DLP’s leadership,” he added, while explaining that “the party’s leadership became very distant from the people, and you really cannot isolate yourself from the population, the various interest groups, stakeholders and still maintain popularity”.
Before a hushed gathering, the former Government Senator, who said back in April he was steadfast in his belief that the DLP could secure another term in office if they “begin to talk about the many things they have done”, today warned that political trust had to be earned.
But in a further swipe at the Freundel Stuart-led grouping, he said such trust appeared to be lacking between the public and the DLP, whose candidates needed to take personal responsibility for the breakdown.
“Most of it was self-inflicted. Be humble enough to accept where the party went wrong. Apologize to the people of our nation for not listening and for anything that was said that hurt them or caused pain and disappointment,” Durant said.
“Apologize. We are not too big to apologize,” the former Government Senator stressed, while further advising that every member must now return to the party’s base.
At the same time, he said there was failure on the part of the DLP to listen to the people.
“There were many red flags being waved, but they were ignored. I am sure the party has learned also, never to take the electorate for granted. People need to know, so communicate with them . . . talk to them, explain to them why you are doing what you are doing. Allow them to buy into your plan and your vision and to have a sense of ownership, or where you are taking the nation. It is always safer that way,” he suggested.
In his very forthright message, the DLP spokesman also called on the 63-year-old political organization to show Barbadians that it cared for them.
“Avoid being arrogant. People do not like that. Do not talk down to people when communicating. Keep it simple, explanatory. Be compassionate and understanding in your delivery. Hold regular press conferences. Keep the nation informed,” the prominent church leader said.
Today, Durant also took it upon himself to render an apology on behalf of the DLP.
“I want to take this opportunity to apologize to every Barbadian who felt hurt, disgusted, horrified or angry because of any derogatory remarks, character assassination, verbal abuse, any swearing or expletives used on any DLP platform during this 2018 election campaign.
“This is not the brand the party wants to project and this would certainly not be the brand going forward. Please forgive the Democratic Labour Party,” he begged, while suggesting that in the heat of the moment things were said in haste which should not be taken seriously.
In his recommendation for restoring the party to full strength, appeal and relevance, the prominent DLP member urged the leadership to embark on a major youth campaign strategy.
He said this initiative should be designed to entice and encourage bright young minds with a forward-looking approach who were prepared to identify with the philosophy of the party and be given the opportunity for their voices to be heard. He said social media and the establishment of a strong and vibrant public relations arm were essential to recreating a more engaging and effective DLP which he said now needed to regroup, rebrand, rebuild and rebound.