Crisis of Governance – No Damn Labour Party (NDLP)

The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) was founded in 1938 and the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in 1955. For many the BLP and DLP dubbed the Duopoly are the only political parties we know. In recent years both political parties have been criticized for not being sufficiently progressive to sustain a quality life for the majority of Barbadians, present and future generations. Noticeable has been the inability of alternative parties to establish themselves as credible alternatives in a ready environment.

In 2018 and 2022 the BLP won both general elections with an unprecedented consecutive 30 to zero result. While political supporters of the duopoly have understandably contrasting feelings about the results, the more independent minded continue to be very concerned. 

A strong democracy depends on quality political parties. Strong political parties depend on quality members. In recent years both DLP and BLP have been unable to attract quality individuals to stem rising voter apathy and cynicism. No need to listen to the taking heads who try to justify declining voter turnout with statistical speak. Unbiased political pundits agree that today’s voter across the globe “appear to be turning away from traditional political organizations”. It forces the question – can the democracy practiced in Barbados survive without fit for purpose political parties?

The Barbados system of government which is a parody of the Westminster system is predicated on the “public’s trust in the integrity of government”, one that embodies “a framework of ethics, professionalism and transparency”. It has become obvious EXCEPT for rabid partisan supporters our political system has been hijacked- whether it is because of a less than meritorious selection of candidates or anonymous sources of funding for political parties that flavour how decisions are made when politicians ascend to government. There is a growing bloc of disenchanted citizens- here and elsewhere- who represent a view the time has come to usher in a more direct participation by citizens to how we govern. Find ways to diminish the role of political parties and the professional political class. The days of the ‘grassroot’ politician whose sole objective was to selflessly serve the public is a faded ideal.

Barbados presents a good case study to prove the notion of a system of government failing because of a declining political party system. There is the BLP with its charismatic maximum leader- remove Mottley from the BLP leadership and there is a good chance the party will flounder to mimic the death throes being exhibited by the DLP. In the meantime and in between time the people are left with no option than to vote for twiddledee or twiddledum.

The majority of Barbadians despite our boast of being an educated people hesitate to discuss governance issues in a meaningful way. That is unless cloaked in a salacious, adversarial and contentious theme. There is the saying, a people always get the government it deserves. Across the globe this is being witnessed.

BLP DLP Same Party – NTSH

The blogmaster checked the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) website and the list of candidates to run in the upcoming general election is not current. The same observation for the DLP with a general election on the horizon only 16 candidates are listed. Needless to say manifestos are also a work in progress with the DLP website offering a ‘Coming Soon’ disclosure. Given the perilous state of the social and economic affairs in the country, should we be satisfied with the lack of urgency shown by the major political parties to ready its ‘political machinery’? Should the electorate be satisfied by the lack of urgency?

One expects after the Michaelmas break political parties AND operatives will ramp up activities. Unfortunately barring a divine intervention the next general election contest will be between the two major political parties pejoratively dubbed the Duopoly. Like many countries across the globe Barbadians have shown little appetite for third parties who for the most part have been unable to attract quality candidates and craft a compelling alternative message.

The next general election will be interesting for many reasons. At the top of list of political pundits is how the DLP will bounce back from the unprecedented 30 to zero drubbing in 2018. On the flip side there is a BLP managing a sick economy made worse by the ongoing panic resulting in a conservative 17% unemployment number. It is a scenario ready made for a political opposition to make good progress. Then again there is the political adage oppositions don’t win elections. Governments lose them. The Mottley government must be aware the pandemic has given rise to an anti-government sentiment with several losing general elections in the last year.

Will the central theme of the next general election be about which political party has the superior inferior leadership? How about the economy stupid. What we know is that tired narratives of old should not apply. We have a more enlightened electorate and active social media. The blogmaster is the eternal optimist. Then again what are the political options that spell a departure from the tired policies of the Duopoly? Credit to the government it has been promoting increase use of technology to improve efficiency to manage our affairs and forging linkages to non traditional markets BUT the same old issues remain. Have a read of post 2018 Auditor General reports, the state of the National Insurance Scheme, public debt accumulation, irrelevant education system to enable Barbados to compete in a global market, over-reliance on tourism, passive private sector; entrepreneurial class, declining social behavioral, increase lawlessness etc etc. Although the government is not solely to blame for everything ailing the country, it sets the tone.

Where do we go from here?

What should citizens demand from political parties given the signs of the times. What role must traditional media play to assist in the the transformation to ensure relevance. Recently the blogmaster viewed asocial media posting of a young female journalist who appeared to be besotted with Prime Minister Mottley because she was handed the opportunity of an interview. How does it contrast with trade unionists of yore who refused on principle to drink and break bread with those on the other side of the table?

A read of the tea leaves indicates NTSH.

The Duopoly: BLP and DLP Must Step Up!

There is the saying he who plays the piper calls the tune. As it pertains to the political sphere, whether abroad or local – players with deep pockets who contribute to political parties expect when said party wins office, political contributions will covert to influence. There is enough evidence in post independence Barbados to agree.

In May of 2018 the electorate gave the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) an unprecedented mandate of 30 to 0. A prevailing opinion leading into that general election was that the level of apathy and cynicism was tailor made for a genuine third party movement to take root.  Unfortunately we had a situation which confirmed suspicions – our best citizens are not motivated to present for public office. To support the point, combatting the duopoly in 2018 were political parties led by Alex Mitchell, Bajan Free Party, Neil Holder, Barbados Integrity Movement, Steve Hunte, Kingdom Government of Barbados, Mark Adamson, People’s Democratic Congress, Grenville Phillips, Solutions Barbados and Lynette Eastmond – see Caribbean Elections  for list of candidates.

It is a fair conclusion to make that a credible so-called third party will not be an option for Barbadians any time soon. The alternative is for quality individuals to infiltrate the Barbados and Democratic Labour parties to act as change agents. Given the entrenched culture of the duopoly some will argue this is a near impossible task but it must be done.

The blogmaster is a keen observer of local politics and it is obvious both political parties have become slaves to a ‘democratic’ system that promises the electorate A but on winning office must reward B the campaign donor. What it means is if neither of the two main political parties when in government implement laws to better regulate campaign donations, nothing will change because every election cycle the duopoly will start with the advantage. Why would the duopoly lead change especially if the citizenry is not overly concerned with ‘boring’ governance issues?

Where do we go from here?

Political students are taught when there is a gap in the expectations of a people stoked by the political directorate, and the inability of said political directorate to deliver on promises made, there is a likelihood this will breed revolution – peaceful or violent based on the triggers. 

Barbados is a country stalled at the crossroads, heavily indebted, crumbling systems and infrastructure, uncomfortable crime level, an educational system not fit for purpose, moribund court system, inefficient garbage and sewage systems, 1970s economic model and a people with diminishing esprit de corps.

Every day the blogmaster listens to the old guard criticizing social media instead of embracing it to co-opt the support of the new guard. Instead we have so-called social media influencers whose ignorance or deliberate misinformation is allowed to go unchallenged. We have immerse ourselves in a culture of divisiveness. We have shown an inability to negotiate and reconcile difficult issues. There was a time a win win solution was the sole objective, now it is win lose.

On this blog we have had robust debate about the merit of a gradualist approach to confronting challenges as a Small Island Developing State. Across the globe – to a lesser degree in Barbados – there is evidence of declining political influence given the level of public protest actions we have been witnessing. It is evident to this blogmaster the citizenry is beginning to adopt public protest action as a means to express dissent instead of the traditional avenues entrenched in our governance system.

We are a country at the crossroads. The level of disharmony in the country does not bode well for a better Barbados. Leadership in the country must find pathways to rebuild trust between the people, private and public sector arms of society.  Rightly or wrongly civil society has ceded leadership responsibility to political parties. From this premise like minded citizens and actors in civil society will have to exert pressure on the local duopoly and others in the political sphere to reinvent by constructively engaging the general public to win back trust.



We Are All Sunk


Submitted by Grenville Phillips II,

As a small independent country, there are a few maxims that should guide our behaviour.  Never blast a hole in our boat, because it can sink, and we will all suffer.  Never contaminate the food on our boat, because we will all get sick.  Never sabotage any part of our boat, because it will hinder our progress.

The only justifiable reason for damaging the boat, is for enslaved people to protest their condition.  However, we are no longer slaves.  Our slave fore-parents purchased this land for us with their blood.

We elect persons to navigate our boat for up to 5 years.  We may severely criticise their performance.  However, there is no good reason for any Barbadian today to damage our boat.  This should be common sense.  However, there are a few Barbadians who think that they have a licence to harm our boat.

Participating in corruption, bribery, and drug-gang alliances, is to blast a hole in our boat.  Infiltrating and then politicising professional, industry, news media, and union organisations is to contaminate our water supply.  Discouraging responsible foreign investment, is to sabotage our boat.

Opposition politics in Barbados is about convincing people how bad things are, so that they will vote against the party in government.  To do this, each party relies on their political operatives.  These operatives know of only one method of maintaining discontent, that is to harm our boat.

Political operatives have adopted this slave legacy of sabotage, as part of their opposition to the party in Government.  They have a real incentive.  They are normally well-rewarded by their political party.  Therefore, they focus on getting their party elected by any means, regardless of the cost to us.

Since either the BLP or DLP is opposing the party in Government, opposition political operatives are always trying to harm Barbados.  However, this continuous harming of Barbados must stop – for all our sakes.  Since the DLP is currently out of Government, it is up to them to stop this cycle.

The DLP’s political operatives will naturally feel that they are being unfaired.  They saw that the BLP’s worst political operatives, who did major damage to the boat when they were in opposition, were richly rewarded.  They think that now is the time for them to earn their reward.

Despite how badly the BLP’s political operatives behaved when the BLP was in opposition, someone needs to decide to be the adult.  Otherwise, this toxic tit-for-tat political environment that both parties have cultivated, will never end.

If we want to preserve this country for our children, we must find a way of competing politically that does not include damaging our boat.  Perhaps all political parties can consider the following initiatives.

  1. Each party should explain how they plan to stop their candidates from accepting bribes.  The public can then decide whether their methods are effective.
  2. Professional organisations can analyse and compare each party’s social development and economic growth plans.
  3. Industry organisations can assess and compare each party’s barriers to investment.
  4. The media can provide fair, honest, and non-partisan political coverage.
  5. The unions can stop promoting and protecting one party, and frustrating and not-cooperating with the other.

After 50 years of independence, we should be mature enough to try a better path.  However, it is unlikely that political operatives will behave properly, because the rewards are just too enticing.  Since they harm our boat on behalf of their party, only their party can order them to stop.

It is foreseen that if both parties do not restrain their political operatives, then Barbados will become ungovernable.  However, simply ordering their political operatives to cease and desist will not be enough.  The DLP’s political operatives will justifiably claim that they alone are asked to bear the burden.

To ensure full participation by all political operatives, they must all be convinced that they will never again be rewarded for harming Barbados.  For this to happen, then BLP must terminate the reward-appointments of their worst political operatives – otherwise, we are all sunk.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at

What if Rihanna were Prime Minister?

Submitted by PUDRYR

What Makes a Prime Minister.png

Some weeks ago, the ole man noted a comment from Mr. William Skinner, a fellow blogger where, while he spoke of breaking the deleterious chains of this BDLP Duopoly, he suggested the possible advancing of Rihanna Fenty as Prime Minister.

The ole man has been examining his suggestion anew in the light our serious need for “New Blood” perspective and the necessity to break this rut that our country has descended into.

We have no national inspiration nor any desire, like Rihanna, for Bajans to aspire to be “A Credit to their nation Wherever We May GO.”

I humbly suggest to you readers that what we need is a radical disruption and departure from this path of useless incompetents and a need to have ALL of our people embrace real change.

And I humbly suggest that this change WILL BE FOUND in Rihanna.

Many people (of whom the Honourable Blogmaster numbers high in this list), are quick to say that “Mia Mottley is a millionaire” as if this is some superlative qualification.

But the ole man, would ask those of you, who will read this submission, (INCLUDING RIHANNA?) to contemplate the instructive Cassius/Brutus comments  (Act I Scene 2)

Brutus and Caesar—what should be in that “Caesar”? “Rihanna and Mia” —what should be in that “Mia”?

Why should that name be sounded more than yours?

Write them together, yours is as fair a name. Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well.

Weigh them, it is as heavy. Conjure with ’em, “Brutus” will start a spirit as soon as “Caesar.” And Rihanna will start a spirit as soon as Mia.”

Now in the names of all the gods at once, Upon what meat doth this our Mia feed, That she is grown so great?

Age, thou art shamed! Barbados, thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods!

When went there by an age, since the great Errol Barrow, But BIM was famed with more than with one (wo)man?

When could they say till now, that talked of BIM, That BIM’s wide walks encompassed but one (wo)man?

Rihanna Fenty is a millionairess too”, many times more that Mia Mottley (at least what Mia’s official declaration states heheheheh)

Mia is said to be able to speak without a paper, AND, as an actress, so can Rihanna.

Mia has 26 ministers around her running the finances of Barbados – a $1.5 billion indebted country, OF WHOM 21 MINISTERS ARE IDIOTS!!

Rihanna is part of a MULTIBILLION DOLLAR empire AND IS SURROUNDED BY, & HAS ACCESS TO OVER 1,000 FINANCIAL EXPERTS, people whose performance validation contracts don’t permit them to tinker with finances, THEY GET THE JOB RIGHT, EVERY TIME, or they get fired. FULLSTOP

Do you Bajans who truly want change, understand this?

Examine the PROVEN OPTIONS we have right here in our Ambassador Plenipotentiary Rihanna Fenty!!

Like William Skinner, I am doubtful that WE CAN MAKE THESE BDLP CLOWNS straighten up, and fly right, but I wish encourage average bajans, people WHO DOES NOT FEEL like you are a part of the MOTTLEY solution – we have A VIABLE SUCCESSFUL ALTERNATIVE – FENTY FOR 2023!!!

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – Anatomy of an Election Campaign II

In the first part of this essay last week, I commented on the positive and negative consequences of the Prime Minister advising the Governor General to issue the writ for a general election to take place on May 24; the likely record number of parties and individuals contesting the elections; the prominent role that the offence of bribery was playing in early popular discourse and the relatively minor part that more substantive issues were occupying in the public domain.

With the launch of the campaigns of the major parties last weekend and the excitement of Nomination Day last Monday, the battle has now been well and truly joined.

What has been noteworthy about the approach of the so-called duopoly is their identical treatment of the launch of the campaign and the introduction of their respective candidates being two distinct events; a strategy available to the better-funded campaigns only, I presume. None of the others has followed a similar course, contenting themselves with traditional spot meetings and social media campaigns.

Having attended none of these four main events thus far, my commentary is based mainly on hearsay and the other secondary sources of media reports. The similarity in strategy between the older parties appears to have ended in the staging of dual meetings however, since the opening gambits appear to be diametrically opposed. For the Democratic Labour Party [DLP], the engagement strategy appears to be the one pursued so successfully by the all-conquering West Indies cricket team of the 80’s and 90’s, -that is, if we can prick the bubble of mystique that surrounds the leader of our opponent, then the battle is already more than half-won. It is a strategy better known in the Barbadian vernacular as indicating the importance of the brain (head) to physical soundness –“When de head gone, the whole body gone…”

While it is, of course, far too early to gauge the effectiveness of this approach, it is one clearly fraught with some degree of risk since the leader of the Barbados Labour Party [BLP] is female and it is not irrational to assume that its supporters might readily conflate what is intended to be a purely partisan political barracking with an attack on the female gender in general… even though a reasoning electorate should be careful to distinguish between the two by virtue of the content. In other words, a broadside against the political acumen and leadership ability of an individual -whether male, female, blackish, whitish, affluent or “scrunting”-, ought not to be melded into an assault on all those identically situated merely by virtue of the identified characteristic.

Nonetheless, to found an election strategy on a plinth that requires the appreciation of such a comparatively fine distinction by an impassioned local electorate appears in hindsight to be unarguably risky. The call is not mine to make, however.

For its part, the BLP appears to have adopted an equally risky strategy for its platform. While it is understandable that the promise of a better economic future for the citizenry would be an attractive sop for a jurisdiction and an electorate in deep economic “doo-doo”, the more cynical voter might be mistrustful and wary of promises of a soonest return to a former prosperity that would entail a revival of formerly available civic entitlements, an increase in a named social security benefit and the concomitant reduction of a much despised imposition.

In light of the actuality that an electioneering promise is not otherwise enforceable except as a matter of propriety, a party should be diligent to persuade an discerning electorate of its bona fides by reasoned argument and not merely by platitudes that require them to trust the word of the promising or representing entity.

I readily accede to any argument that I am not a politician, and it may be too that I am unfamiliar with how a local electorate reasons, if it does so at all. If I had my druthers, though, I would not have advised either of the strategic approaches adopted by the major parties so far as being too electorally risky.

As for the other combatants, I remain hopeful that a creditable platform will emerge from among them, one that is based on practicable policy as well as one that respects the guaranteed fundamental rights of citizens.

Just recently, I received a flier from one “third” party’s candidate in my constituency and I am forced to wonder whether a competent individual was allowed to vet the material therein by before publication. One paragraph speaks to “Charged Persons” and boldly indicates that “only the charges and court cases of those convicted will be published”. And, as if this threat to press freedom were not sufficiently chilling, it is further stated that publishing any such details of innocent and not-convicted persons will attract “defamation fines”. The material proposes to quantify these penalties on the loss of reputation and loss of earnings (suffered by the innocent party, I presume) owed to the publication.

This is surreal. While our neighbours are striving to abolish the offence of criminal defamation, we are attempting to apply it to a wholly inapplicable circumstance -one where there is no defamation- and further to impose monetary penalties therefor where there can be no likelihood of loss of reputation caused by the publication. Lord, put a hand!

Barbadians Must See Beyond the Sophistry

Submitted by William Skinner

Emboldened by a now decadent and decaying two party system, we have apparently opted to embrace a society bereft of regulatory might. The citizens have been, in some cases, willing accomplices to the cowardly abandonment of their historical mission by the political managerial class. In every area of civic responsibility, we have allowed the devolution of duty whether it entails the mismanagement of the sewage systems or failure to control the destructive mini bus culture. To some degree, we are all accomplices to the current plight of our circumstance.

From blatant political party favouritism at state agencies such as the national housing, transport board and welfare departments to the obvious corporate political gymnastics of the CLICO corruption, we have been caught with blood on our hands. We allow inconsiderate vendors to dump their coconut shells any where they choose and turn a blind eye to political nepotism and underlying corporate racism and greed. Therefore, the results of our collective ineptitude have now been ruthlessly exposed.

This is not a condition peculiar to our society but one endemic of many societies in the region, emerging from a slave/colonialist past. Our plight is synonymous with those who gleefully declare the race over and the victory won long before reaching the finishing line. It is almost an embarrassment to suggest that we have been governed mainly by delusion.

These statements are not intended to be blistering and do not suggest that we cannot change the course for the betterment of our society. The question that will inevitably be posed is: How do we move on from here? The first step that must be taken is the difficult realization that independence does not mean the raising of a flag, a national anthem and too many public holidays. The elevation of outstanding citizens to that of National Hero, is indeed a worthwhile exercise but its usefulness to the national psyche is diluted if our children have no knowledge of the reason for such elevation.

However, without hesitation, we must note that the embodiment of the excellence we seek, can be found in at least one of those heroes, who with talent, fearlessness and exciting mastery, clearly demonstrated what it takes to beat a man at his own game. That same creativity and the ability to make rather than copy; to be the engineer and not the engineered, is what we ought to seek at this time of national socio-economic bewilderment.

The workshop of sustainable national pride and progress requires tools of: national energy, innovation and creativity. Having survived physical degradation, it is imperative that we believe that mental victory is now the only worthwhile goal. Against this background, the citizen must see beyond the sophistry of those whose only ambition is to enhance only themselves and should no longer allow political sycophants and corporate parasites to guide them toward their own destruction.