More important than a new president, the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) needs a complete overhaul.
That is the view of political scientists, Dr Kristina Hinds and Dr Tennyson Joseph, who have maintained that Verla DePeiza’s resignation as president of the party was always on the cards.
DePeiza handed in her resignation on Friday, two days after the DLP’s humiliating 30-0 defeat at the hands of the Mia Mottley-led Barbados Labour Party (BLP) at the January 19 general election.
While neither Dr Hinds nor Dr Joseph chose to speculate on who they thought would be the best person to replace DePeiza, they both agreed it was not the DLP’s biggest concern.
“The DLP needs a lot of things that are new. They need a new face, they need a new image, I think they need a new DLP. In the UK we saw that Tony Blair did this with Labour and what they did was they reimagined what that party was to mean for the time period and the DLP needs to do that,” Dr Hinds, head of the Department of Government, Sociology and Social Work at the University of West Indies, Cave Hill Campus said.
“I am not certain that any of the persons who were involved in the 2008 to 2018 administration may have the vision or the energy to do that, so I think that they do need someone that can bring some ideas about how to revitalize the DLP, bring it and its message into the 21st century so that it is more appealing to many groups of people and so that it is different from that 2008 to 2018 lot.”
Meanwhile, Dr Joseph, senior lecturer in Political Science said DePeiza’s resignation was “standard and expected.”
“I don’t think the problem of the DLP is a question of who the leader is or in this particular context the problem is not solved by a particular leader. There is a much deeper philosophical and capital and internal rethinking and rebranding and so forth that needs to be done that goes beyond just a leader,” Dr Joseph maintained.
“The party has to define its philosophy. If you remember the party’s defeat in the last two elections have their basis in the way they governed between 2008 and 2018 and that is where you have to start. Between 2008 and 2018 they were governing during a period of global economic crisis but their response to that was to go into an extremely neo-liberal way of solving the problem. So, if you recall they basically cut off students’ fees, they stopped the free education, they figured the State couldn’t get involved in social entitlements, they were attacking the university and the trade unions, so the social democratic party of Errol Barrow in 2008 began to almost reverse itself on its original philosophical principles.
“So if you are the DLP what you have to do is make sure that there is no way in which any other party can be more social democratic than you, because you were the party of social democracy … The discussion is not about leadership, the discussion has to be about a kind of molded social democratic agenda that they have to define and lead on. Once it cannot do that the door is open for some other party to do it and the BLP is doing it,” Dr Joseph added. (RB)