THE SEARCH FOR RELEVANCE
Submitted by Caleb Pilgrim
While one must never forget the past, nothing is to be gained by overly rehashing the historic failures of the previous DLP Administration. These speak for themselves. Cheap excuses do not suffice, either.
Nor do recent attempts by “the old guard” to reincarnate and resurrect themselves after their May 2018 near absolute annihilation. Pray tell what is their relevance today in terms of party viability, political vision, and Barbados’s future? Others have already asked what do they offer now that they could/should not have offered before. They would better be invited to rest in perfect peace.
But, in moving forward, let us essay a slightly different approach, notwithstanding partisan chatter about the “Deceased Labour Party”.
Assume that women make up a rough majority of the Barbadian people, say 51%+/-. Assume further that the Barbadian women MPs, in terms of Parliamentary seats, typically number at most a disproportionate 20%+/-, despite the fact that women make up more than a 51%+/- majority of the population.
Recognizing such widespread disparities in demographics, a number of universities long ago introduced programs aimed at empowering women and helping to enhance their prospects for electoral success, e.g Women Political Campaign & Mentorship Schools at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the Institute of Politics; the short annual Women’s Campaign School (WCS) at Yale Law School; the LBJ Women’s Campaign School at the University of Texas at Austin; courses at Fordham University; the University of Florida; George Washington University. etc. There is obviously a reason for the existence (raison d’etre) of such campaign schools.
The DLP’s “old guard”, given what some perceive as their apparent hubris, their previous erratic behaviour, perhaps their inattentiveness amid other paramount concerns, must or should have known of such women campaign schools at some point during their ten years in office and utilized such training opportunities to mobilize a cadre of more representative candidates.
One example, the WCS curriculum at the YLS, includes staple topics such as:
- Paid Media
- Press Operations
- Grass roots organizing
- Voter targeting
- Polling and research
- Get out the vote
- Speeches and interviews
- Digital campaigns
Participants have come from far and wide including Panama, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Australia and the UK.
The course purports to be intensive and involves 12 hour work day each day and the basic cost is a mere US $1,800. Arguably, a minor investment, where materials, tactics, strategies and information can be adapted, and participants encouraged to share if not teach other would be candidates in different constituencies. Other courses, including those at graduate level, point to the professionalization of politics rather than the usual jokes and tragicomedy.
Finally, while the BLP has proposed referenda on transition to a Republic etc, the DLP should not shy away from big issues, e.g whether there should be a referendum as to Barbados establishing a system of proportional representation (PR) instead of the old “first past the post” system which, among other causes, brought the DLP into the political wilderness. (Obviously, with a 30-0/ 29-1 majority there is no incentive for the current Administration to entertain PR; but all other parties and interested individuals might see it differently).