The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) has left much to be desired by Barbadian voters 15 months after being ousted from Government, a noted political scientist has contended.
Nevertheless, Dr Don Marshall, senior lecturer in International Political Economy at the University of the West Indies has questioned whether former Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley brings a viable alternative to re-elected party President, Verla DePeiza.
Lashley, for the second successive year , mounted an initial challenged against DePeiza, but reportedly pulled out of the race. The former culture minister has also been critical of the DLP, calling for further “open and frank dialogue” in relation to the party’s collapse.
“All the [DLP] candidates that stood in the last election are struggling for relevance in light of the mandate given to the Government and the overwhelming vote,” said Dr Marshall.
“They are struggling for relevance and it’s a crisis of confidence that they are all undergoing both at the personal level and at the level of the party. I only take politicians seriously when they come to speak to causes.”
Marshall asked: “What is the cause that Stephen Lashley is pushing that will bring about a better understanding of social justice, lift our economy forward or value the culture of the arts? What are the innovative and uplifting ideas being presented by Stephen Lashley that would galvanise for him a momentum worthy enough or justifiable to mount a challenge for any seat or any position in the DLP?”
Instead, Dr Marshall encouraged DePeiza to take the DLP beyond “annual conference exercises” and stressed that the 2018 election result represented a crisis for modern labour parties, which she would have to address. It involves bringing a wealth of new and original ideas to members of the public, he suggested.
“If I were in Verla’s position, I would have gone for a rebrand. There is nothing that suggests that because the party was formed in 1958 that herein forever and ever it should be called the Democratic Labour Party or that you can’t rebrand and re-jig the Barrow vision. Is it suitable for this time? What are the key Barrow principles you will retain and what are the new fundamental visions that you will adopt?” he challenged.
He criticised party leaders for failing to ignite a “fire of imagination” in the minds of the Barbadian electorate and focus on real 21st century issues.
“Is the Democratic Labour Party engaging in any of these kinds of discussions outside of the weekly lunchtime lectures that are hide bound in George Street? Have they used their constituency bases to fire up imagination about what 2023 should look like? Have they engaged the sustainable development goals and mapped out what should be a citizenship charter into the 2020’s and 2030? What kind of social benefits should we expect in an atmosphere where the state must watch its spending? Can we have all things at once including free healthcare, education etc.? Can we have all these things at once and if we can, what kind of economic model will we building towards? In a nutshell, where is the evidence of future conscious planning on the part of the DLP and other parties?” questioned the political scientist.
“We are caught right now in a time warp where we believe that the root of our developmental challenges is to address financial sector enhancement and making it easy to do business, when this is really just the tip of the iceberg.”