If the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) is to experience its phoenix-like rise from the political ashes, following their 30-0 drubbing at the polls last May, the party must humble itself before the people of Barbados and openly acknowledge its mistakes.
This view was candidly stated by former member of the ousted Freundel Stuart-led Cabinet, Stephen Lashley, who made it clear that this path must be followed before Barbadians are again willing to listen to the messaging from a DLP platform.
“People want to hear the recognition that we were in a government for ten years and we were found wanting by the people of Barbados. We have to recognise that. We must not become so swell-headed that we are not big enough to accept the fact that there were things that the ball was dropped on and they were significant enough to cause people to rebel. I think in recognising this, we can start to build a platform that persons would listen to,” said Lashley, who delivered the DLP’s lunchtime lecture this afternoon.
In a further show of penitence, the former Minister of Youth Sports and Culture, acknowledged that the DLP administration was at times guilty of arrogance. He also expressed regret over the manner in which the party conducted the 2018 campaign, noting that it smacked of negativity and therefore urged the new party leadership to devise and publicise a code of conduct to govern future campaigns.
“One of the major things that young persons have said to me and that I also endorse, is that they want to see a DLP that understands and is recognised as being humble. We must show humility as opposed to arrogance. They have said that we fell down because we appeared to be arrogant. I say ‘we’ because we are all in this together. We appeared to be arrogant and we lost the way in understanding what humility means to Barbadians,” he said, while advocating for the party to take steps to mend its relations with the trade unions, which was strained over the last 10 years.
In addition to his prodding for his party to show contrition, Lashley made it clear that the DLP could no longer afford to sit silently while the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) continues to pile on allegations of corruption. He argued that the party needed to face these allegations head on, defend those that can be defended while denouncing those found guilty.
“If there are allegations of corruption then you have to meet and face those allegations. If there are persons who are found guilty, I don’t know if anybody has been found guilty of corruption, but if there are persons guilty of corruption, we as a party should be the first to say that we frowned on corruption,” he said noting that the DLP must push for these persons to bear the full brunt of the law.
Last year, one of the party’s stalwarts and former minister of commerce, Donville Inniss, was indicted in the United States on charges associated with money laundering. The BLP administration has also levelled countless accusations against the previous government for questionable contracts and under-the-table deals.
This afternoon Lashley was adamant that the party has to “again find its way within the discourse”, where zero tolerance is attached to corruption.
“Where the Government stands along that pathway, we have to be bold enough to join with them along that pathway. There are commonalities in relation to certain matters that common ground has got to be found.”
He also noted that while the DLP must still play a major role in checking the power of the ruling administration, the party could ill-afford to be a dissenting voice just for the sake of doing so.