By Kareem Smith
One year removed from an unprecedented rejection by Barbadian voters, the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) is refusing to be silenced.
The party on Sunday night showed signs of life as faithful supporters packed the modest auditorium of the St Michael School to dissect the Barbados Labour Party’s first year in office.
President Verla DePeiza harshly criticised the economic and social policies of the Mia Mottley administration before the upbeat and often boisterous crowd, but she also highlighted where the former DLP team went wrong and what would be the party’s new direction.
“This was a rough year for the Democratic Labour Party. I have memories of that night, the tears and I would go so far as saying the loss of life as our members tried to come to grips with what had happened.
“We understand and we take responsibility for putting you in this position. We recognise there were some things we did wrong and we have set about this year fixing them,” she told supporters.
Former Minister of Social Care and Constituency Empowerment Steve Blackett who last year retired from elective politics, was the only member in the Freundel Stuart’s cabinet in attendance. Other familiar faces included speakers, Andre Worrell, Kim Tudor, Ryan Walters and former cabinet minister Jepter Ince.
The major topic was the last 12 months of governance under a Barbados Labour Party (BLP) administration. However, in a near hour-long address, DePeiza placed profound emphasis on the party’s historic defeat but stressed it was time for the party to reclaim the trust of Barbadians.
“One small smear on our reputation will not drive us into the ground if I have anything to do with it. People power will win out and we will regain our position as the party of the masses, because bit by bit, people are coming to the realization that yes, we had flaws, yes, we did not speak enough… but we had their best interest at heart.
“Our membership that has fallen away is fully invited back without recrimination because they have opened our eyes to the reality that we were getting too comfortable and as we continue to agitate across Barbados, our people will start to feel at home in George Street again. People of Barbados will understand and appreciate that we don’t hold May 24, 2018 against them,” she said.
Depeiza also challenged party members to speak out in the interest of Barbadians, as she criticized the Government’s handling of numerous issues. The country’s controversial debt restructuring under the IMF program, the 75 per cent increase in bus fares, the dwindling transport board bus fleet and the “bullying” of nurses into a 24-hour work system at polyclinics were among issues which did not escape Depeiza’s fiery criticism.
“We have to watch and we have to speak up, because, in this present climate, it is the people who have to speak for themselves…because the Government of the day has shown us it will only speak up for its friends.
“I have heard that the last administration presided over a lost decade. I will say again, we hold all blame for not sharing with the country what we were about, but you are the ones who have to stand up and say that is not the truth,” she urged supporters. (Kareemsmith@barbadostoday.bb )