It’s time the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) “make things right with the people of Barbados” said former general secretary George Pilgrim as he declared his candidacy to lead the party that was voted entirely out of Parliament more than two years ago.
Pilgrim, a member of the Dems since 1994, on Wednesday confirmed his intention to stand for the post of president at the party’s annual general conference at the end of September.
He told Barbados TODAY: “I was nominated to the post of President. I answered the call from the party’s base and members of the BLP [Barbados Labour Party] who felt that the country required balance in the political landscape.
“Members of the party felt that my involvement defined the spark necessary. As general secretary, I embraced the ideas of engagement of our people.”
He will be going up against the incumbent, attorney-at-law Verla De Peiza, who took the reins of the crushed party following its 30-nil drubbing in the May 2018 general elections.
Pilgrim, who suffered his third defeat at the polls as the Dems’ candidate for St John in the 2018 election, insisted he did not turn his back on the DLP, but was instead paying close attention and listening to party members and supporters who he acknowledges were stung by the election defeat.
He said: “As an elected administration we disappointed and we have to make things right again. We have to get our party back on track.
“I have learnt the importance of listening to our people. I did a lot of listening over the last two years. I have learnt so much from the silence from our members.
“I took notice of the critics of our party while coming to grips with our current policy landscape.”
In a frank assessment of the DLP, Pilgrim said while the party was far from dead, it was in need of its members and supporters to return to the base.
Using the analogy of a 10k race, he said; “I would easily say that the BLP has turned the corner in the race and are currently out of sight. The race, though not over, is a hard one now.”
Pilgrim suggested the party faced “three options”: “We must run faster… the BLP must slow down which they will not do, or option 3, which I am not willing to share.”
Pressed on why he was the man to take up the baton, Pilgrim reflected that at 24 he walked into the DLP’s headquarters at George Street and five years later he was named general secretary, after closely working with the old and young.
He declared that engaging with people is key to rebuilding the DLP.
Pilgrim said: “After serving as the party’s general secretary I believe I should utilize all my energy and experience to design a road map that has engagement at the core.
There will be no future agenda for us unless we engage. As president there is only one framework – education through engagement.”
He added: “We need to identify who our friends and partners are and have frank discussions.
“Our party is driven from within. The axis of rotation that drives the party’s machinery comes from the membership. Once that spark is ignited and there is a message then the train departs. It does not stop until we answer the call of taking over the government. Our leadership therefore derives that impetus to move from the people.”
Pilgrim stressed that given the challenges confronting Barbados, the country was in need of a strong DLP and in due time more would be revealed.
“The agenda of the party is made more complex as the world faces off with an unprecedented crisis which requires an unprecedented response,” he said. “Our small island state is experiencing the reality of managing information versus managing a country.” ([email protected])