The following is the full statement issued today by three former candidates of Solutions Barbados giving reasons for why they have parted ways with the Grenville Phillips 11-led party in light of the May 24 general election.
1. The Contract
1.1 Introduction of a contract as ‘accountability’
A contract was introduced in December 2017 for all Solutions Barbados candidates to sign, sometime after the launch of candidates in November, after candidates had been members for approximately six months; after flyers had been printed and after candidates had already started their constituency campaigns. The contract therefore was not introduced as a condition of joining the party, but was clearly a control mechanism for keeping candidates in the party and a carefully enforced way of maintaining loyalty to Solutions Barbados and to Grenville Phillips II.
1.2 Lack of a democratic process
All decisions were made via a directive from Grenville Phillips II, as in the case of the contract. Grenville stated the purpose of the contract was to inhibit anyone from voting against Solutions Barbados policies or from crossing the floor and that it was intended to create “fear and intimidation”. Candidates were bound over in the sum of US$250,000 to Walbrent College or alternatively to “any other charity who were willing to hold candidates accountable”. When a number of candidates sought advice about the contract over a number of months, the advice was always not to sign as it was unethical and infringed certain statutory rights. The problem concretized sometime in April 2018, when candidates asked for the removal of those clauses which removed those statutory rights, in particular the right of freedom of speech and of freedom of association.
1.3 Punitive measures
Those candidates who challenged the contract were subsequently punished in being presented with a new contract whereby they were bound over only to Walbrent College in the increased sum of US$1million. Grenville Phillips is the sole proprietor of Walbrent College so in fact it was Grenville Phillips to whom everyone was being coerced to sign over their statutory rights, and Grenville Phillips who would be the sole beneficiary to any claim on the contract.
1.4 Manipulation and Coercion
By April, candidates were fully committed in their constituencies and to their constituents; having been campaigning now for five months. Therefore the only solution to the dilemma was to sign the contract under duress, so that we could complete the work started and to remain a candidate in the forthcoming election. This was a subtle method of manipulation and coercion.
2. Leadership Style
Grenville’s leadership style was to instruct, direct, manipulate and coerce.
2.1 Singular and autocratic leadership
The style was dictatorial and authoritative, circumventing all other positions and ideas, which were not listened to nor given any credence whatsoever. There was no consultation process, members were simply given directives that had to be followed.
2.2 Lack of leadership structure, processes and procedures
Running of the party was subject to ad hoc personal decisions made by Grenville. For example, it was his decision solely who was or who was not a candidate and this fluctuated according to his mood at any given time. There was a reluctance as well as inability to move the party forward by establishing the right facilitating structures and processes, for example, ignoring the call for a SWOT analysis of the election experience on the grounds that it is only applicable to businesses and not to the party. There was also continual refusal in the face of requests, for the party to be opened up to membership from the wider public as is standard practise.
2.3 Single-handed religiosity
There was a preponderance of religious instruction given by Grenville, which greatly hampered the work of Solutions Barbados as a political party. These instructions were given without any confirmation by others, the normal course when guided by spiritual consideration. This created a deep-seated contention, conflict and distrust within the party.
2.4 Imagery and representation
Feedback on the public image of Grenville’s leadership, both externally and internally, presented a certain stiffness, detachment and disconnect between the leader and the public at large. It was constantly made apparent that Grenville does not have the confidence nor the trust of the electorate.
2.5 Lack of consistency
The inconsistency with which information was communicated was a concern, with the “facts” often shifting and vacillating. This was a growing concern from the very beginning.
2.6 Lies and deception
The leadership style was laced with lies, misrepresentations and deception, made worse when these were often aimed at the public. For example, for a time Grenville maintained a public face of 28 candidates, knowing he had demoted a number of candidates to the status of associate members over an internal dispute, so in fact there were only 22 candidates at that time. This lying to the public is capped by the recent press statement where Grenville stated that no one had left Solutions Barbados but were simply “taking a break to take care of business”, and that everyone intended signing the contract. This is patently not true.
3. Moving Forward
3.1 A change of leadership necessary
As we see it, the way forward for Solutions Barbados as a political party in Barbados required leadership that demonstrated dynamism, engagement with people and a certain degree of charisma. Grenville’s leadership has been sadly lacking in this interpersonal skillset. For example, a mere two days after the election, at a meeting called on 26th May, each member was singled out and asked whether they planned to continue as members of the party, despite a plea from some members that this was not the time, and that a debrief was more suited. This pressure was followed up the next day with a demand to sign a new contract for those planning to continue. This brought matters to a head.
3.2 Final Olive Branch
A final olive branch was offered by those having challenges with the leadership style, putting forward certain conditions for us to carry on under the Solutions Barbados banner. It was hoped Barbadians could continue to view the party as a viable alternative to the established parties, and that we could build on the elections by ensuring a genuine voice of representation. Unfortunately Grenville refused that olive branch and instead took the step of removing members, who had tendered their resignations.
3.3 Our commitment
Moving forward, one thing that is clear for this group is our commitment to what is best for Barbados and our constituents. We will ensure that we remain a voice to the nation on matters of national importance and continue to give Barbadians a clear understanding of what is happening behind the political and governmental curtain. This will, we hope, evolve into something more concrete in the years leading up to the next general elections.
3.4 Counter signatures
The foregoing is countersigned by the following candidates on behalf of others who have had to take the difficult decision to part ways with Solutions Barbados. We hope also that we have been able to represent some of those left behind who sympathize, but for fear or other reasons, don’t feel able to say.
Signatories to the Press Statement