The election of a President of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) will be held this weekend at the annual general conference to run from August 18th to 20th. On the ballot are David Estwick, Ryan Walters, Richard Sealy and incumbent, Ronnie Yearwood.
The election of a President of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) will be held this weekend at the annual general conference to run from August 18th to 20th. The interest of the country is piqued because with no other credible alternatives available the DLP represents the government in waiting.
What has spiced interest for many is the fact the DLP has had to accept two significant defeats in the last two general elections. So significant it was the party did not win a single seat. Although many prefer in the wake of the shellacking a credible third party movement would have emerged, it has not. Although disappointed, we have to console ourselves that the duopoly will be with us for the foreseeable future.
The blogmaster does not have a dog in the fight BUT being a keen observer of local politics, a few observations of a light nature on the current state of political affairs in the DLP camp are merited.
There are three challengers to the incumbent Dr. Ronnie Yearwood. First up, former minister of tourism Richard Sealy who also served as deputy prime minister under Freundel Stuart, he built his reputation on good tourism results straddling late David Thompson and Freundel Stuart administrations. The blogmaster will remember him as well for his effort to demonstrate the cleanliness of the South Coast waters at the height of the sewerage problem.
Second, Dr. David Estwick served in several ministries under Thompson and Stuart but in the opinion of the blogmaster his tenure was characterized by frequent conflict with Cabinet members, often times he breached the collective responsibility of Cabinet. He will also be remembered by some for allegedly brandishing a gun within the precincts of the hallowed halls of the Lower House and joining the Eager 11 faction. Always a fiery speaker on the political platform his antics are remembered more than his substantive arguments. If he were to become leader of the DLP lampooners will choke on the opportunities that abound.
Third, Ryan Walters is described as a businessman. His last assignment was that of General Manager with the local Burger King franchise. He is relatively young to the political scene and currently building his brand and network. Does the DLP need a relative unknown to lead at this time, does he have the political nous to jostle with hardliners in the DLP and at the same time execute a rebuild? Then there is the gargantuan task of preparing the party for 2027.
Last, the president in the chair Dr. Ronnie Yearwood, an academic and UWI lecturer who switched from the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) post 2013 after Sandra Husbands M.P. was given the nod in St. James South. The truth is, a year is a relatively short time for the newcomer to understand his new party – one with an entrenched culture – and then go about initiating the deep structural changes required to make the party relevant and competitive. Especially after 30-0 defeats in the last two general elections. DLP members will have to make the call.
The job of the winner to lead the DLP next week will not be easy. It is a political party still labouring under the weight of Errol Barrow’s legacy – made more difficult by the growing brand of Prime Minister Mia Mottley who is obviously positioning the BLP to make it three on the trot. The success of the DLP in future polls may not be on readiness post two significant defeats but whether Mottley retires from the job. There is also the fact growing dissatisfaction with a BLP controlling all the seats in the Lower House and possible compromise to our governance system.
May the best man win.