The Phartford Files: Agenda for a Third Party Part 2
Submitted by Ironside
In part I of this discourse, I indicated that there is room for a third party in the psyche of the current Barbadian society. I also set forth the contours of a basic strategic communications approach that a “third party” can adopt.
May I digress here and rebut the commentators who say that we should not talk about a third party? That position is based on the notion that the DLP is dead, principally because of its 30-0 defeat at the polls.
Realistically, that idea, predicated as it is on the current state of the DLP, is at best sensationalist; at worst, dangerous to aspiring third parties. It is also foolhardy because in the FPPS (first-past-the-post system) system, technically all it takes to win is one more vote than the opponent. The implication is that analysis of the 2018 polling results will show that DLP still has strong residual support and therefore, will not die from its wounds.
Whether we want the party dead or not is irrelevant. That is just not how things of this nature work in Barbados. There is reason why we are often described as a nation of diehards! Moreover, we prune plants and they produce more, cut down trees and they grow back. So those who wish the DLP dead are engaging in wishful thinking. If you feel like calling me a DLP supporter for saying that, go right ahead…knock yourself out! Cold!
Not Without a Vision
So, a serious third party cannot take that foolhardy position. The strategic goal of a third party or coalition of such parties, as I envisage it, is to be in one of the following positions at the end of the 2023 election, in order of descending preference:
1. Have a majority of seats and therefore, form the government.
2. Have sufficient seats to make it infeasible for any other party to have a majority without the third party’s seats.
3. Have sufficient seats to form mathematically, at least, the official opposition
I leave my fellow hyper-nerdic bloggers to do the maths in their comments, as I am sure they will.
Whatever the statistical analysis, when (not “if”) either of these situations occurs, it will be an exciting time in Barbados; history will be made. It will bring out the best and the worst in Barbadians. There will be jumping and shouting, wining and dining, bitching and cursing, fuming and fretting, wailing and gnashing of teeth!
In many ways, it will be a Phartful Emancipation Day!
Then, as we always do, even if painfully slowly, we will settle down to a new reality and get on with the business of managing the country for the good of all Barbadians. That is the bottom line, pun intended.
So the 64 million dollar question is: how do we get from here to there?
The first and most critical thing is to challenge the incumbent party with proposals at which it will balk to implement but which will find great favour with the masses of Barbadians. There are two such proposals. I will disclose only one at this time. I am not trying to hide anything; I simply want to leave something in reserve for the third party when elections draw near.
My proposal is this: challenge the government to pass legislation NOW to initiate a proportional representation electoral system. I know, you heard me talk about PR before. True. But notice the approach…issuing it as a challenge to the incumbents.
Of course, the third party must make it a major plank of its campaign and convince the public, that if elected, it WILL pass such legislation. If they win and pass the legislation, they virtually guarantee themselves seats in the 2028 election, because of the proportional representation system in effect, ceteris paribus, of course. It would then be virtually impossible for there to be a repeat of the May 2018, 30-0 “bloodbath”.
Now, I can envisage how the BLP and a revived DLP will react to this proposal but in order to keep this article short I am going to leave room for my fellow commentators to help elicit some of these possible reactions.
In the meantime, I wish to recognize some similar and collateral tactics put forward by fellow commentator “Piece the Legend”. His ideas are founded on the same strategic plank: challenge and pester the incumbents with proposals that are high value to the masses but which the incumbents will be hard pressed to implement. In strategic marketing, we call it a “harassment strategy”. Below is a relevant excerpt from Piece but you can read the original at the hyperlink that follows:
What the PdP has to do is reach out to these entities with invitations and then ask the government for assistance for example with leasing the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford venue for the function. The BLP will refuse it, IN WRITING, and the PdP will just announce this.
It’s important for the PdP to deliver things WHILE THEY ARE IN THE OPPOSITION, and for those things the need financial assistance with reach out to the BLP and if you get the resources ITS YOYR DELIVERABLES but if you dont, broadcast that too. It costs the PdP nothing to orchestrate these outreaches WHICH, IF THE BLP REFUSE TO PAY FOR, OVERTIME, SHOWN THEM TO BE PETTY AND FEARFUL.
A break up of the two-party system looks more and more feasible but we have to stay on point. Whether it is one third party or a coalition of third parties fighting the 2023 election is irrelevant. The important thing is to break the two-party system domination. Therefore, there are three things we have to do from here on: 1. Focus! 2. Focus! 3.Focus!