Come tomorrow, the fledgling United Progressive Party (UPP) will have a new leader.
That’s because current chairman Lynette Eastmond will not be contesting Wednesday’s elections when a new Executive Committee is named.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Eastmond, who founded the UPP in 2016, confirmed she would not be running for the post.
She said Ambrose Grosvenor, Everton Holligan and Wayne Griffith had so far signaled their intention to contest the top position.
In a release the UPP said “The United Progressive Party is in the process of choosing its Executive Committee for 2019-2020. Nominations for positions are being processed via online nominations and voting which also helps to facilitate our overseas membership. The names and positions of the new UPP executive will be made public on Friday March 29, 2019.”
Eastmond explained: “I thought it would be appropriate to give as many people in the party as possible as much exposure as possible because obviously we are training up people in order to be able to take up big roles in Government,” Eastmond explained.
“It’s important that we have different individuals who can step up and lead the party.”
However, Eastmond maintained her decision not to run for chairman was not a signal she would be joining Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley in his soon-to-be formed political party.
“No this doesn’t signal anything. I know nothing of Atherley’s plans,” Eastmond replied when asked of her plans to possibly join him.
But political scientist Peter Wickham told Barbados TODAY he believed the party would falter without Eastmond at the helm. He said that while her decision not to seek re-election was surprising, the move did not “move the political needle one way or the other”.
In fact, Wickham suggested it would be more beneficial if Eastmond and Atherley joined forces.
“I think that without her as the chairman, the party will eventually come to nothing. The party was really about Lynette Eastmond, she was the face of the organisation.
“There’s talk of an alliance between herself and the current Opposition leader. I think they are curious bedfellows…but politics is always the order of convenience and I think that is a convenient relationship now, largely because they are both opposition operatives that want to gain some level of relevance,” Wickham pointed out.
“She can bring some structure to his party. He wants to form a party so he can benefit from the funds which are available for parties in Parliament, so he has something that she wants and she has something that he wants, so ideally it’s a marriage of convenience.”
However, Eastmond, an attorney-at-law by profession said even though the UPP did not win any seats in the 2018 elections, she still believed the party was relevant. She contended there was room for political parties apart from the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) and the Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
“Since the last election the UPP has been making its contribution to the Barbados democracy by reviewing policy, critiquing them and giving our own recommendations with respect to those policies.
“We think that is important for democracy and we think it is important for Barbados to be able to listen to more than two voices in a democratic space and that is what we are about. We are making a contribution and we know people are listening and hearing us and we are going to continue in that vein,” Eastmond said.