Three months after the second defeat in a general election Democratic Labour Party (DLP) members voted for Dr. Ronnie Yearwood to replace Verla Depeiza who resigned in the aftermath of what transpired. He won by a reported vote of 273 to 205.
It is surprising more of the 800+ DLP members eligible to vote were not motivated to participate yesterday. It would have sent a strong signal to the public that there is a burning desire by the party to get back on track given the herculean rebuild effort. The last contest between Guy Hewitt and Verla Depeiza attracted a 507 to 295 vote, President Yearwood has a gargantuan task ahead. David Estwick who could not command significant support from the parliamentary group after David Thompson died in office and was a bane to the party during Stuart’s tenure attracted 205 votes from DLP party members. There is a lot political pundits can unpack from the result.
The next three years will be a critical in the rebuild period of the party. The next 18 months will be crucial for Dr. Yearwood to measure his success as a politician. By taking on the DLP presidency at this juncture in its history one suspects if he is perceived to be unable to breath life into a political party currently in a comatose state -it may doom him to be a stillborn DLP politician like his predecessor. Similar to when Owen Arthur became leader of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in 1993, Yearwood does not command a significant power-base in the party. Neither is he a member of parliament. Arthur was able to successfully navigate that early period because he received strong support from elders of the party. Hopefully the DLP will be able to learn from the BLP experience and avoid making unforced mistakes.
It is understandable a significant number of DLP members continue to be disillusioned, who would not be after losing at last count 61 times at the polling booth. The Freundel Stuart era is one the party will have to work hard to overcome. It will be crucial for Yearwood to display the leadership required to co-opt early support from losing candidates David Estwick and Guy Hewitt in order to present a united front to current membership and the wider public. The adage united we stand, divided we fall seems an apt reminder to all concerned. This will be crucial for the party to be perceived as making progress to members of the public.
An emerging Barbadian voter is ready for a new kind of politics. The naked partisan behaviour and empty rhetoric seen and heard from today’s politicians and old guard is on the way out. It will be hard- in many cases impossible- for dye in the wool DEMs to shift positions. Hopefully under Yearwood’s leadership enough are persuaded to shift perspectives and he is also able to attract enough NEW members to make a difference.
Until the DLP is able to make a ‘course correction’ and elusive alternative third party political options emerge the saying that in the land of the blind one eye man is king will continue to ring true. In the system of government practiced by Barbados the best results occur with a strident opposition voice IN parliament.
On behalf of the BU household the blogmaster congratulates Dr. Ronnie Yearwood for showing the courage to undertake a job that must rank high on the unwanted job scale at this time.