Reform or Die

Submitted by Ziggy Greene


Voter annihilation
The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) was wiped out in the 2018 general elections in Barbados. It lost all 30 seats that constitute the House of Assembly. So devastating was the defeat that the DLP won only one or two of individual constituency voting boxes. Previous strongholds of St John and St Lucy were swept away like coastal lands in a tsunami. Many pundits, political and otherwise, have prophesied, more in hope than serious thought, that the DLP is now dead and defunct. It is deceased they declare; it cannot rise again. Good riddance to bad rubbish was how one Barbados Labour Party supporter, a friend, framed it.

And so it seems after the election if one drove along George Street, Belleville, the headquarters of the DLP affected a forlorn and shabby appearance, a reflection of the state of the party. For weeks nothing was heard from former Cabinet Members. Not even from the former PM Freundel Stuart; he remained as silent after the loss as he had been during his leadership.

The show must go on
Nevertheless after sometime, an election for party leadership was held. It pitted Guy Hewitt, former UK High Commissioner from 2014-2018 against Verla De Peiza, a previous unsuccessful candidate for the party. Hewitt represented a break from the past and De Peiza a continuation thereof albeit one who was never in government. Without going into the reasons why, De Peiza won.

Can DePeiza make the DLP viable again?
That is question on the lips of party faithful and Barbadians who want to see a robust opposition. After two years in the leadership role it is difficult to tell if the question has been answered. What comes out of George Street is an amalgam of worn out political utterances and defensive statements that give no clue to the personal political underpinnings of Miss De Peiza or what a DLP Administration under her leadership would portend. There is no inkling on where she stands on the pressing issues that plagued Barbados, whether it is crime, social or economic concerns.

Every party suffers defeat
At some point a party will lose an election. At some point the political philosophies of a party will clash with the wishes of voters. Between 1932 and 1952 during and after the great depression, and the Second World War Americans favoured the Democratic Party for its social policies. Between 1980 and 1992 the Democratic Party was in opposition to the Republicans in presidential elections when Americans opted for the conservative policies of Ronald Reagan. At home, the DLP won 24-3 over the BLP in 1986. In 1999 the BLP defeated the DLP 26- 2 and in 2018 30-0.

It ought to be pointed that the Democratic Party in the US began life as a conservative party and the Republicans as more liberal per the America definitions of those terms. They flipped ideologies around the 1970s although it can be argued that the change started around 1932 when FDR instituted social and welfare reforms to combat the great depression. In Barbados, there is no defined political ideological demarcation between the DLP and the BLP. Demonstrably, political parties form and reform or reinvent themselves according to the philosophies of their leaders and members, and the voting tendencies of the public.

The DLP Party must reform
Without doubt it must. But how is that to be achieved? My advice would be to first apologise to the citizens of Barbados and to DLP members if there is a distinction or if such a specific apology is warranted. Sorry for not living up to expectations of those who voted for the DLP, Sorry for besmirching the values and name of Errol Walton Barrow and those who started the Party and carried its banner for many a year, Sorry for the failures of the past 8 or so years. Pledge that it would never be repeated. That would represent a break from the past and signal a new dispensation. One rightfully may argue that it may anger some members not least the old guard from the previous administration and that may be true. I say so what? But an apology is not the end all.

Political reform – a review
Jose Moroni in a 2009 paper about Brazilian politics considered the question of political reform and advanced seven basic but fundamental challenges, that any serious attempt at political reform must overcome.

There are to quote Maroni:-

  • Male dominance: Any system of political, economic, industrial, financial, religious or social organization in which the vast majority of the senior positions in the hierarchy are held by men.
  • Patrimonialism: Political conduct on the part of dominant elites in the exercise of public government functions whereby public resources (of the State and/or its institutions) are appropriated as if they belonged to these elites.
  • Oligarchy: A form of government in which power is concentrated in the hands of a small number of individuals who are in many cases united by family ties or political connections, and who belong to privileged social classes. Typically, oligarchies tend to be dominated by men and to function in a patrimonialist way.
  • Nepotism: The practice of individuals in positions of executive power in the State apparatus granting favours by awarding jobs to their relatives.
  • Cronyism: The exchange of favours and mutual preferential treatment by individuals in executive positions in State structures and public services.
  • Personality cults: Creating cult status for individuals in the political sphere, which leads to the devaluation of political debate and the de-politicizing of conflicts.
  • Corruption: When individuals appropriate or re-allocate public resources for private ends and are able to act with impunity and maintain themselves in power. Another aspect of corruption is that it is a way of usurping the power that rightly belongs to the people.

For ease of reference, Moroni succinctly explains those challenges. To varying degrees and deferring terms, these are comparable issues that plagued Barbados.. Nevertheless this is by no means an exhaustive list. There are other issues like encouraging a more broad-based economy, debt and debt financing, the welfare state, civil service reform, crime, targeted free university education, technical and vocational schools or studies, same sex marriage, school zoning, legal reform, and single sex schools. Coterminously, there is the matter of in- house DLP recalibration surrounding attracting new members, candidate selection restructuring, and maintenance of party headquarters.

Back to Moroni
Addressing the political scene in Brazil, Moroni offers up more incisive guidance for reform, which on examination has exogenous appeal. He advises reformers to-

  1. Strengthen direct democracy;
  2. Strengthen participative democracy;
  3. Improve representative democracy (the electoral system and political parties);
  4. Democratize information and communications;
  5. Democratize the judicial system

How germane, given what has been trending in Barbados. The President of the Senate recently resigned and has been replaced by a party insider, with no reason given for the particular appointment. The Chief Justice has retired and advertisement for a replacement has been broadcasted. Despite that, critics are confident that a party affiliate is a surety for the post.

And with the recent Throne Speech and the intent of the Government to implement measures towards same sex civil unions and republicanism, there has been some furore over whether Government should proceed unilaterally in the case of becoming a Republic or by way of referendum, as it has for same sex marriage notwithstanding the civil union stop gap.

Such political angst is ubiquitous in democratic forms of government but there are lesson to be learnt here for the DLP. Changes are not easy. They are disruptive and divisive, but they are inevitable.

My Advice to DePeiza
Scrutinize these political reforms posited by Maroni. Juxtapose them against the political landscape of Barbados and your ideals for the DLP. In detail, pen how you would realign the political principles of the DLP taking into account this framework. Promulgate it to the public along with any other reforms that you deem necessary under the circumstances.

Above all, mean it, and demonstrate that you do. We must know where you stand. We must know where you intend to take us and above all we must believe you. You may not win the next election and you may not win any election but you would have propelled the DLP into the future and perhaps ensure its existence.

262 thoughts on “Reform or Die

  1. I actually feel insulted that Hal Austin of all creatures, believes he has something that i would want…BOY stay in ya lane, ya really don’t know what i will bring down on ya stupid ass.

  2. I think this blog plays an important role for persons to express their opinions. At this time, it is needed even more because the mainstream media does not show a lot of objectivity to a government that has all the seats in Parliament including the opposition member. Caswell opposes like an opposition should and not like his leader who is very passive. For example, he said that the consultants cost is too high but never pushed for the costs to be disclosed. There are now extra costs for two special envoys based in Barbados. There must be a push for transparency in government business in Barbados

  3. Don’t mind Ha, Ha…shame got him, I contacted FT a while back and showed them what he did, they had the info still, he can never get over it…am sure he is no longer invited to any meet and greets…he was so ashamed all he said was that he no longer works there, of course not, and ya will not be invited back either..after i gave them the heads up…

  4. @ Hal Austin September 21, 2020 1:10 PM “Yes he is a Barbadian, like the late prime minister David Thompson. Steuspe….(Quote) What does this mean?”

    It means that you loved the foreign born David Thompson, and you can learn to love the foreign born David Commissiong too.

    Love is good.

  5. What slaves are not understanding is that there should be NO BORDERS in the Caribbean, because we are ALL COUSINS by blood, just as there should be NO BORDERS IN AFRICA..

    …it’s all a colonial construct, a vile and contemptible remnant of slavery and the divisions that were essential for colonizer success…. and it only continues to work because the slaveminded like Ha, Ha, beleives that they are special slaves and continue to denigrate other islanders with their weak slave minds..

  6. Cuddear…there will be no more entertainment for you today, i got something important to do and have no more time for that weak negro..

  7. When it’s all said and done, yall are going to be so sorry, that you crawling things out of the parliament did what ya did, i suggest people listen to Comissiong again, the more you listen to the video, the more insight ya get into the minds of self-serving creatures,. people keep replaying it in certain forums because they cannot believe that these are supposed to be ministers, politicians, lawyers, WHO ARE ELECTED TO TAKE CARE OF THE BLACK PEOPLE..

    people are appalled at what they are seeing and hearing and wondering WHICH CENTURY these black leaders live in….i told them they live in the 17th century time machine that is the colonial parliament…wuh what else ya want me to say, how can anyone explain any of it otherwise….am sure the fowl slaves will try to razzle dazzle us though.

  8. By the way, am on a site where am seeing only Black progressives, Black creatives, Black geniuses being highlighted who are reaching the heights of unimaginable success…WHERE are Barbados’ black progressives, creatives and geniuses and please don’t tell me they are in the parliament, i have expended more energy than i should have today on that rat…i don’t need to waste anymore

    why are young Black people not represented in Barbados, why are they not given any exposure, i counted like 100 in a row being highlighted in another forum…..on one page…all young, all black, where are Barbados’ ….the punching above their weight crowd should explain….

    this is not normal….all they seem to promote is boys on the blocks going to prison.

    with all its warts, this is what the US has to offer…there are about 100 of them, i got exhausted.
    “Green is a key industry player in the cannabis field, leveraging technology and culturally conversant content to co-lead the successful telehealth company Veriheal, which he helped launch in 2017.”

    Kimberly Drew
    With a growing influence in art, fashion and journalism, Drew has a vision of Black Futures, as her upcoming book is titled, that embraces the full scope of our creativity.

    Cameron Webb
    A practicing physician in his home state of Virginia, Webb is now on a path to becoming the first Black doctor in Congress—where he hopes to put improving healthcare in America firmly back on the agenda.

    J’Nai Bridges
    Making her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 2019, Bridges is becoming well known for what the New York Times calls her “plush” mezzo-soprano voice.

    Janina Jeff
    Jeff is helping Black America navigate genetic ancestry testing with her award-winning podcast, In Those Genes

    Diamond Stylz
    Stylz is a nationally recognized voice elevating the experiences and needs of Black trans women with her podcast, Marsha’s Plate

    Brandon P. Fleming
    Fleming launched the Harvard Diversity Project to provide summer debate residencies at the Ivy league school for Black students from Atlanta and led the team of “great debaters” to a three-peat win over international competition in 2020.

    Lindsay Peoples Wagner
    Already the youngest editor-in-chief in Condé Nast history, Peoples Wagner is holding the door open for higher inclusivity in the fashion industry and media.

    Moogega Cooper
    As the planetary protection lead of NASA’s 2020 Mars mission, Cooper holds the awesome responsibility of keeping the red planet safe from any of Earth’s contaminants that could be transmitted by NASA’s Perseverance rover, which is on its way to the red planet

    Remoshay Nelson
    Capt. Nelson rose through the ranks of the U.S. Air Force to become the first Black woman to be designated an officer in the Thunderbirds, an almost 70-year-old squadron.”

  9. All i have ever seen for the whole of 54 years is ya black ministers promoting minorities and not their own people over and over…and i never saw a gun to any of their heads, they all looked more than happy to play the part of traitors, and Comissiong got the nerve to go on an international forum talking about the 5% “planter class” controlling the economy, am sure he forgot that Mia was on a stage in UK in an open forum promoting tiefing Cow….and she did it on more than one occasion…it’s clear they do not know to and abhor the idea of promoting and elevating their own people unless it’s some pimp or yardfowl that is not expendable..

  10. WURA,

    Many of ours are in the same USA, Canada and the UK. We highlight them in our Sunday Sun. Those who live here are also highlighted.

  11. Donna…i have only seen one or two, this should be weekly, the ones in the Diaspora are always highlighted in the Diaspora….we should be seeing at least 20 a week highlighted on the island and not because they are politically connected or are family to someone who can pull strings, i know how it goes…it should be the rule rather than the exception…

    In addition, the creatives, geniuses etc are never given center stage, that has to change..they always have to hide their work from being stolen and sold from under them…and then find themselves marginalized…we have had one or two people on the blog complain for years and have ongoing legal cases fighting to get back what is theirs stolen by Caribbean governments, Barbados’ governments have a bad track record for tiefing intellectual property too…they are none of them ready yet, too fly by night..

  12. You have to be careful with intellectual work, there are always people willing to steal stuff. I have some writings that i don’t let see the light of day, was only alerted last year to certain learning institutions using things i put in certain forums, but that was when i was looking for feedback, so it did not bother me, these days i only put out what i don’t think is important, but people can pick up other people’s work and twist them.

    I know there are brilliant YOUNG BLACK PEOPLE on the island who need the exposure and never get it, problem is, politicians believe they should hold all the limelight with their stupidity of looking for international attention every day, while only promoting their minority friends, and that is not right..

  13. Gline Clarke yuh could run but not hide
    Other social media platforms including fb throwing some hot lashes in yuh backside

  14. Pingback: Reform or Die II | Barbados Underground

  15. An ugly extention of Barbados’ slave codes that should be taught in schools all across the diaspora and on the Continent of Africa.

    “Doug McLean
    June 17 ·
    “In 1866, one year after the 13 Amendment was ratified (the amendment that ended slavery), Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, and South Carolina began to lease out convicts for labor (peonage). This made the business of arresting Blacks very lucrative, which is why hundreds of White men were hired by these states as police officers. Their primary responsibility was to search out and arrest Blacks who were in violation of Black Codes.

    Once arrested, these men, women and children would be leased to plantations where they would harvest cotton, tobacco, sugar cane. Or they would be leased to work at coal mines, or railroad companies. The owners of these businesses would pay the state for every prisoner who worked for them; prison labor.
    It is believed that after the passing of the 13th Amendment, more than 800,000 Blacks were part of the system of peonage, or re-enslavement through the prison system. Peonage didn’t end until after World War II began, around 1940.

    This is how it happened.
    The 13th Amendment declared that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” (Ratified in 1865)

    Did you catch that? It says, “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude could occur except as a punishment for a crime”. Lawmakers used this phrase to make petty offenses crimes. When Blacks were found guilty of committing these crimes, they were imprisoned and then leased out to the same businesses that lost slaves after the passing of the 13th Amendment. This system of convict labor is called peonage.
    The majority of White Southern farmers and business owners hated the 13th Amendment because it took away slave labor. As a way to appease them, the federal government turned a blind eye when southern states used this clause in the 13th Amendment to establish laws called Black Codes. Here are some examples of Black Codes:

    In Louisiana, it was illegal for a Black man to preach to Black congregations without special permission in writing from the president of the police. If caught, he could be arrested and fined. If he could not pay the fines, which were unbelievably high, he would be forced to work for an individual, or go to jail or prison where he would work until his debt was paid off.
    If a Black person did not have a job, he or she could be arrested and imprisoned on the charge of vagrancy or loitering.

    This next Black Code will make you cringe.
    In South Carolina, if the parent of a Black child was considered vagrant, the judicial system allowed the police and/or other government agencies to “apprentice” the child to an “employer”. Males could be held until the age of 21, and females could be held until they were 18. Their owner had the legal right to inflict punishment on the child for disobedience, and to recapture them if they ran away.
    This (peonage) is an example of systemic racism – Racism established and perpetuated by government systems. Slavery was made legal by the U.S. Government. Segregation, Black Codes, Jim Crow and peonage were all made legal by the government, and upheld by the judicial system. These acts of racism were built into the system, which is where the term “Systemic Racism” is derived.
    This is the part of Black History that most of us were never told about.” ~Chuck Allen
    (thank you Weisha Mize).”

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