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DLP stalwart behind non-confidence motion ‘wary of process’

by Emmanuel Joseph
5 min read

The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) stalwart who brought a no-confidence resolution against the party leadership expressed fear on Friday that the same high-ranking officers will be judge and jury over his complaint.

And two political observers have handed in their judgement on this latest fracture in the opposition party, suggesting a clash of contenders at the top is imminent.

Hartley Reid, who hand-delivered the document to the DLP’s George Street headquarters on Wednesday, also expressed concern that he was still in the dark – officially – as to how the executive council will treat his motion, despite hearing comments about it from the party leadership in the media.

Declaring that he has no confidence in President Dr Ronnie Yearwood and General Secretary Steve Blackett’s leadership, Reid declined to spell out his reasons, saying they would more properly be left for any hearing.

He told Barbados TODAY: “I have not received any correspondence from the General Secretary of the Democratic Labour Party relative to my resolution. All I can speak to you of is that I heard in the news and over social media today, that the General Secretary made comments relative to the authenticity of the document, about a number of flaws that were in it, and also that the Executive Council sat and was judge and jury in their own case.

“That being the case, I am still awaiting official word from the General Secretary Mr Steven Blackett, relative to my resolution and how the Democratic Labour Party will proceed with it…because, the constitution of my party states that a grievance committee and disciplinary committee must be set up to answer any complaints from members.”

The motion became stuck due to procedural issues but remained alive late Thursday after a meeting at party headquarters. Blackett, accompanied by Vice President Walter Maloney, told reporters that the executive council had discovered errors with the motion.

The motion, which Reid told Barbados TODAY contained 83 signatures, raised concern about Blackett and Yearwood’s conduct. It called not only for their removal but also the resignation of the wider executive council.

But Blackett disclosed that the council found discrepancies with the signatures attached to the motion. Some of the signatories to the resolution were not members of the party, he said, adding that some party members said their names were added to the document without their knowledge.

Reid responded to the charge that some people on the list were not DLP members.

He said: “I am not the keeper of the register of the Democratic Labour Party. So, if one were to ask a person attending a meeting to put their names and constituency branch that they were at, and they went ahead and put their names and what constituency, you take that at face value.”

On the claim that some people did not consent to their names being on the document, Reid declared: “It is unfortunate that they could say that they did not know because it was being said the entire evening what the list was going around for…soliciting names for a no-confidence vote at the time.”

On the way forward, the longstanding member said: “You would have to ask the General Secretary of the Democratic Labour Party where we are going from here.”

When contacted on Friday, General Secretary Blackett was adamant that the party had no intention of commenting any further beyond what was said on Thursday night. But he gave an assurance that the country would be updated at the appropriate time.

Commenting on the development, two political scientists agreed that the bigger picture is one in which the DLP must get its house in order to avoid the ongoing real or perceived disunity within the party.

University of the West Indies lecturer in political science and international relations Dr George Brathwaite was critical of the president, general secretary and the executive council adjudicating the no-confidence resolution.

“I largely do not think that if the executive and the president are part of the no-confidence that they should be the adjudicators. If they do not have a standing body to deal with it, they need to set up one to deal with it specifically, and according to the constitution of their party,” he said.

He said a similar approach ought to be made to review the names on the list since the general secretary, who is one of the “defendants”, is the keeper of the membership list.

But the political scientist, an adjunct lecturer at the UWI Global Campus, said he is more concerned about the party’s apparent propensity to “wash its dirty linen” in public when there are more desirable options.

Dr Brathwaite said: “For the purpose of democracy, for the purpose of preservation of the political party … as we draw closer to whenever the next election will be in another two or three years…it is important that the Democratic Labour Party puts its house in order once and for all; learn how to deal with things that are internal, internally, and to provide a public sense of unity and worthiness to the people of Barbados who are demanding more of them as an alternative.”

Regional pollster Peter Wickham also focused on what he considered the bigger picture as he declared that “people continue to see the DLP is a house divided”.

“For me, however, and I think for the people of Barbados, the issue is bigger than this [the no-confidence motion], and I think it is really about the extent the Democratic Labour Party is not happy with the leadership of Ronnie Yearwood,” Wickham told Barbados TODAY.

“This would be a reflection of several ongoing battles, where issues that could be small issues would become big issues simply because it is a manifestation of a level of dissatisfaction. And whether the document on the no-confidence motion had procedural error, legal errors or spelling errors, it is still going to come back to the reality that it is manifesting a situation where the people in the DLP are not 100 per cent happy with Ronnie Yearwood, and in an environment like that, I don’t see how it can stand.”

Wickham said Yearwood is on a collision course with the DLP’s political leader Ralph Thorne. “I think the collision is inevitable. It’s only a matter of time.”

Thorne could not be reached for comment.



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