The Democratic Labour Party announced five more candidates to contest the next General Election and launched a new website on Thursday, declaring they are working diligently across the island to prepare for the poll that is constitutionally due in 2022.
DLP President Verla DePeiza said: “We have ratified 26 of the 30 constituencies, but we will continue to release the names of candidates in small batches. I will caution that there are some we cannot name just yet owing to job sensitivity, but once ratified, they are all on the ground interacting with the people. In fact, we had some potential candidates that were not even ratified and were busy in the constituencies, so we could not tell them no.”
The new candidates are Neil Marshall, who will be carrying the party’s banner in St. Philip South; Paul Gibson, a former member of the United Progressive Party and the opposition People’s Party for Democracy and Development, who will be running in St. James Central; Andrew Haynes in Christ Church West; Dawn Marie Armstrong in St. George South and Charles Worrell in St. James North.
DePeiza stated that the party was fully committed to representing the people of Barbados and would ensure it did not “drop the ball” on that aspect of its mission.
“For some time now, Barbadian politics has moved into the “sound byte” era, but I don’t think that is the focus our people want,” the DLP leader said. “They long for that common touch, to see that their ‘servant leaders’ are not about the bombast, not simply about speaking, but are about achievements and activity, being on the ground with them, sharing their good times and bad times and helping them with solutions. That is what representation is all about, and what the DLP is determined to return to.”
She noted that any member of the DLP who wanted to hold a position in the party was eligible to do so and had to go through well-established procedures within the organisation. “
We have a set of by-laws for candidate selection and we have followed them, even at short notice,” DePeiza said. “For example, with the St. George North by-election late last year the process was triggered within 48 hours. Even I had to be vetted and interviewed when I offered myself as a candidate. I had to go through the process before the two councils, and anybody in the party who wants to represent at any level and who wants to be a candidate will, and must, so long as I am the President, go through that period of scrutiny.”
DePeiza added that the party was willing to talk to any group willing to form a coalition with them, and also said she saw COVID-19 as an opportunity rather than a hindrance to its operations. She said: “I cannot speak for anyone else, but when we were on lockdown, I moved my canvassing online. Now the country has reopened, the masks have come out, we stay our respectful distance when we visit people’s homes, and we interact with them, but the people’s business did not come to a halt with the advent of COVID.”
On the new website, DePeiza said it came about because the former website was “too static, so we wanted to create and develop one that was more in tune with 21st century needs, more inviting and more interactive”.
The party’s IT specialist, Anderson Connell, who is based in the UK, said: “This site is easier to navigate, has new functionality and also contains some exclusive content to the DLP. The site enables visitors to not only learn more about the party but also to get involved in different areas, for example, they can vote or make donations through the site. It is also linked to our YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages. This is only the first phase; in the next one we will be launching a mobile app directly connected to the website.”
The 66-year-old DLP’s annual conference is scheduled for August 18-22. (DH)