The apparent implosion of Solutions Barbados has come as no surprise to two of this island’s leading political scientists, who are also predicting a quick return to the customary two-party system, after six parties contested the May 24 polls.
Reacting to news of a major split in the three-year-old Grenville Phillips 11- led political grouping, Director of the Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) Peter Wickham said it was always going to be difficult for the fringe party to stay relevant without branch structures and strong financial backing.
“These parties without solid financial backing have to depend on their members to contribute to run activities and so on and I don’t know that the vast majority of them have that appetite,” Wickham said, adding that the now defunct National Democratic Party, “was the shining example of a third party”, and lasted as long as it did because it had parliamentary presence.
“[However], none of these third parties have that and so all will essentially fizzle out as all others have done in the past,” Wickham said.
The regional pollster further argued that even though Solutions Barbados had copped the third highest number of votes – 4,188 – in the May 24 general election, behind the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), which captured 111, 968 votes and the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), which was ousted from office with 33,985 votes, it had no real building blocks for the future.
“Unlike the DLP that has institutional history, party branches and mechanisms to help itself rebuild, Solutions Barbados is on its own. So even though they got over four thousand votes it does not mean that they are going to survive,” Wickham stressed, adding that “I just don’t buy it because a lot of persons who voted for Solutions Barbados were actually disgruntled DLP supporters”.
Barbados TODAY broke the story on Thursday night of the major splintering that has occurred within 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 group.
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.
One disgruntled former member, who spoke to Barbados TODAY on condition of anonymity, went as far as to accuse Phillips of behaving like a dictator.
However, the development has been downplayed by Phillips, who claimed that nine members were simply taking the time to determine their next step after a grueling election campaign. He also assured that despite the apparent recurring contentious issue, the party was still on a solid footing.
Today retired University of the West Indies lecturer Dr George Belle said the need for a contract was evidence that the fledgling party was doomed from the start.
“It was never a proper political party in the first place. You ever hear of a political party having contracts? I know a political party is a formal interest aggregation, a bunch of people coming together to achieve political objectives. So there is nothing of Solutions Barbados that is really of any political importance,” argued Belle, who like Wickham believes that there will be a mass exodus of fringe parties from the political arena.
“These parties had nothing to sustain them in the first place. Most them came with the objective of keeping Mia Mottley from becoming Prime Minister and now that they have failed to do that there is nothing else to hold on to,” Belle stressed.
The other contenders in the May 24 poll were the United Progressive Party, led by Lynette Eastmond; the Barbados Integrity Movement led by Neil Holder; People’s Democratic Movement led by Mark Adamson and the Bajan Free Party led by Alex Mitchell which is in a coalition with the Kingdom Government Party and the People’s Democratic Congress.