Verla or George, Verla or George…Verla it Must be

Some of us are looking to the upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) later this month with more than a little interest. It is after all the other half of the duopoly that has ‘ruled’ Barbados without serious challenge for the last 60+ years. Since its decimation at the polls in 2018 the electorate has observed President Verla De Peiza struggling to keep pace with her counterpart. All agree De Peiza was dealt a bad hand, however, she accepted the job and it is what it is. The AGM will give Barbadians the opportunity to acquire a more informed position.

The DLP brand despite the unprecedented defeat in 2018 is ‘seared’ into the political psyche of Barbadians. This has made it difficult for a third political party to create a foothold to offer serious challenge to the duopoly. In the short term the electorate will have to make do with the main combatants being DLP versus BLP contest in 2023 when the next general election is constitutionally due.

To the surprise of many including the blogmaster there has been the appearance of the ‘old guard’ offering themselves as candidates for posts. Of interest is the contest between George Pilgrim who will challenge Verla De Peiza for the presidency of the party. Pilgrim was the long standing general secretary of the DLP during an unflattering time. As hard as the blogmaster tried to apply logic to Pilgrim’s decision to challenge De Peiza, there is no logic except to state the obvious- it is his democratic right to run if he satisfied the nomination criteria of the party.

The blogmaster anticipates De Peiza will overcome Pilgrim’s challenge, she must because he is a weaker candidate. Pilgrim represents everything the electorate rejected in the DLP two years ago. There is no credible alternative on show with the 2023 general election appearing in the political rear view mirror. You may recall the result of the vote in the DLP stronghold of St. John between Charles Griffith and George Pilgrim. The final result Griffith 2,963 to Pilgrim 1598. Should the performance in a general election influence internal nominations and elections? Political parties are in the business of harvesting popularity. The DLP needs a president guaranteed to inspire members of the party and to be the architect of a good strategic and tactical plan. Members of the DLP have hobson’s choice, what gives De Peiza the edge is that the DLP headquarters located at George Street was literally allowed to rot under Pilgrim’s watch.

A political party is defined as an organised group of people with at least roughly similar political aims and opinions, that seeks to influence public policy by getting its candidates elected to public office.

The Electoral Knowledge Network

Given the design of our political setup the DLP is a private entity and is permitted to manage its affairs as outlined in its constitution. Decisions taken at party conference however have implications for the country especially in an entrenched duopoly. We have an inkling what is De Peiza’s plan – see link. There is no recent update on Pilgrim’s Facebook page to indicate he is politically active.

In both parties over the years we have seen a tendency to recycle the same old, same old. Rising apathy should be a barometer for political parties that the public is expecting more or expect to be punished with laughter at the polls. Unfortunately a vibrant democracy requires more from citizens than placing an X every five years.

Mara Thompson’s Porous Legacy

The idea to hatch a Thompson dynasty in the St. John constituency by the late prime minister David Thompson at the behest of his political advisor Hartley Henry ended in failure last week.   The last representative for the St. John riding Mara Thompson  announced her retirement from elective politics last week and took the opportunity to anoint George Pilgrim who was cherry-picked by the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) to contest the next general election.

Members of the BU family are keen observers of local politics and the decision by Mara bears a severe critique on several fronts .

She will be remembered for being an incompetent participant in the affairs of parliament whether on her feet or presiding in the Chair as deputy Speaker. Hansard will support. There is no need to be prolix on this matter. For anyone who wants to challenge please point the blogmaster to one seminal intervention she made in her role as a contributor in parliament. The only ‘significant’ contribution that comes to mind was her reference to ‘barren’ women.

The blogmaster admits erring in our support- as the BU archives will support- of the Thompsons. Subsequent events have unfolded to give credence to the view that to err is human.

Although her late husband grabbed the focus as it relates to the Clico Scandal. And revelations contained in the Deloitte Forensic Audit confirmed there is justification in the tainted legacy he has earned. The fact Mara Thompson operated as Office Manager at the defunct Thompson and Associates and MUST have been privy to decisions taken by her husband, not to mention via the pillar talk channel, will also besmirch her legacy and hang around her neck like a yoke rested on our favourite beast of burden  – and the children.  Citizens of the secular world will exact their pound of flesh in recompense, however, there is hope if she claims to be a ‘believer’ to seek repentance for her worldly sins.

The ‘infraction’ the blogmaster prefers to prosecute at this time given our core focus is one of the role of media holding public officials accountable.

It was on November 2017 the Nation newspaper published a story which advised that Mara Thompson:

…will be vacating had been held by her late husband, former Prime Minister David Thompson, from 1987 when he was elected following the death in office of Prime Minister Errol Barrow. Thompson’s death in office in 2010 led to the January 2011 by-election which his widow easily won. Thompson’s disclosure ended weeks of speculation about whether she would be facing the poll constitutionally due early in 2018 – Nation newspaper 15 November 2017

What was amusing is that the local media was forced to defend the story although its source was an interview- albeit a brief one- given by Mara Thompson. She subsequently denied the story. Clearly events have shown that she jumped the gun by making the announcement. We are left to speculate that it was the lack of readiness by the DLP to declare her replacement with a general election looming.

Mara Thompson’s reluctance to ‘lie’ about her premature announcement shows she is no different in moral fibre to the person she deputized for while sitting in the Speaker’s Chair (MICHEAL CARRINGTON). Whether as a member of parliament or Office Manager of Thompson and Associates the conclusion is the same. This is a person who is devoid of the qualities to engage in ethical behaviour if the need to be politically expedient is required. Sadly this is the prevailing quality that describes the local political class.

Why has the media given Mara Thompson a pass?

Mara Thompson’s Clandestine Exit from St. John

George Pilgrim, General Secretary, DLP

Dear Editor:

It has become quite apparent that the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), under the leadership of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, is disillusioned. The DLP no longer has the moral compass to look itself in the mirror and project an image of progress and prosperity for the Barbados nation. Notwithstanding that the DLP has been churning from one crisis to another without the successful relief one would hope for, it is painful to grasp the numerous ways in which Barbadians are being taken for granted, ignored, and in a myriad of ways they are being disrespected.

Indeed, there must be an apology forthcoming to Gercine Carter of the Nation Newspaper. In addition, Leroy McClean, the St. John electorate, and Barbados as a nation ought to be given both explanation and apology regarding Mara Thompson’s clandestine exit from the political arena. While the ‘childless women’ across Barbados, and the thousands of disappointed constituents may find relief in having the opportunity to elect a parliamentary representative who understands the importance of service and putting the people first, it is regrettable that ‘Mara’ would depart from political life (though unimpressive) through the back door.

Equally disheartening is that the leadership of the DLP would remain silent while the General Secretary of this beleaguered party allows himself to be introduced as the likely successor although it became public knowledge that Dr. Leroy McClean wrote to the party machinery indicating his interest in carrying the banner for the DLP. Perhaps, Senator Andre Worrell must be wondering how many more ridiculous defences must he put to be considered in the eyes of the ‘Elders’ or whomsoever has the say within the DLP for undemocratically selecting candidates.

There must be a contradiction that the DLP would resort to perceived sneakiness and stealth, either to keep out Dr. McClean or Senator Worrell. Why introduce or endorse George Pilgrim, as opposed to allowing the democratic way to prevail?

Nonetheless, Charles Griffith of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is homegrown (Edgecliff). Charles Griffith is selfless in his interactions with the youth and persons from all walks of life across St. John. Mr. Griffith will not refuse to defend the hardworking St. John People. Despite many constituents in St. John have over the years settled into the thinking that the DLP will no longer make them sacrificial lambs, the last eight years have cemented the idea that change is necessary. Charles Griffith will not depart from his humble moorings of working alongside the people of St. John. St. John needs a new light and a caring representative because the DLP has become darkened by perceptions of ruse and deception. Mara Thompson has decided to run for cover.

George C. Brathwaite (PhD)

Democratic Labour Party (DLP) NOT Responsible For ‘PARO’ Ads


George A.Pilgrim, General Secretary, Democratic Labour Party

Issue : DLP Ad scraping the Bottom of the Skillet (Posted January 23, 2013)

The executive of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) has categorically denied that its President, its General Secretary, any member of its Executive / General Council , or its campaign management team is responsible for recent advertisements carried in the local daily newspapers, ostensibly sponsored by a group called PARO.

In dismissing any responsibility for the ads or semblance of association with the group, the DLP’s General Secretary, George Pilgrim, in a clear-the-air statement today stressed that the DLP was not party to the advertisements. “We have not commissioned nor authorised any such ads; and, therefore, for anyone to associate the DLP with these newspaper postings is not only totally untrue but very misleading, and designed to put the ruling party in a bad light. As a mature, political party, we do not resort to or condone such tactics that have been the hallmark of the Opposition BLP in recent months,” he noted.