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.
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.