Not So Fast Freundel | It Was Dr. Richie Haynes Who Engineered Pardons for the MARTYRS of 1937

David Comissiong, Citizen of Barbados, Prsident, Clement Payne Movement

I have been informed that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart declared in the House of Assembly today (Friday the 16th of February 2018) that his Government has just instituted a measure to pardon all those Barbadian martyrs who were convicted of criminal offences in the People’s Uprising of July 1937.

Well I have news for Mr Stuart — he is approximately twenty-two (22) years too late!

You see, way back in the mid 1990’s the late Dr. Richie Haynes MP— political leader of the National Democratic Party (NDP) — laid a Resolution before the House of Assembly that called upon the Government of Barbados to “pronounce an official pardon of all of those patriots who were convicted of criminal offences arising out of the riots of 1937 and expunge these criminal convictions from the official records”, and not only was the Resolution passed by the House, but the Cabinet of the then ruling Barbados Labour Party (BLP) effected the authorized pardons.

And so, not only must the credit of engineering the pardons of the martyrs of 1937 go to Dr Haynes and the NDP, but it should also be noted that Dr. Haynes— speaking on behalf of the NDP—  also called for Clement Payne to be designated a national hero and for the establishment of “an appropriate public monument to commemorate the sacrifices made by the many Barbadians who gave their lives or were wounded or imprisoned or victimized in the 1937 riots” — two demands that came to fruition between 1996 and 1999 with the designation of the ten national heroes of Barbados and the construction of the “monument to the martyrs” in Golden Square in Bridgetown.

Indeed, I remember all of this quite well, because, as a then member of the NDP, I partnered with Dr Haynes in crafting these demands.

But this is not the first time that this Democratic Labour Party government has played the trick of repeating (and claiming credit for) something that had already be accomplished before. Why, just last month– in January 2018– Mr Stuart’s Administration made a big song and dance about appointing Anthony “Mighty Gabby” Carter a Cultural Ambassador of Barbados– something that had already been done as long ago as the year 2004 by  Mr Owen Arthur’s Barbados Labour Party administration.

This DLP administration seems to have bought in to the notion that “Barbadians have short memories”. That might be true of some of us, but I can assure Messers Stuart and company that it is not true of all of us.

Why the National Democratic Party (NDP) Failed

Submitted by William Skinner, former member and candidate of the National Democratic Party (NDP)
The Late Sir Richard Christopher Haynes founder of the National Democratic Party (NDP)

The Late Sir Richard Haynes founder of the National Democratic Party (NDP)

There is always a root cause that sometimes leads to success and at other times failure. While the root cause of the NDP’s formation was somewhat similar to that of Errol Barrow breaking from Sir Grantley Adam’s Barbados Labour Party and forming the Democratic Labour Party, it is obvious that when Richie Haynes broke away from the Democratic Labour Party, he was no Errol Barrow.

The NDP’s birth was also seen as one man’s personal ambition and although the party was relatively successful, in terms of other third parties, the perception was that its roots were opportunistic. Very early in the party’s life, considerable time was spent trying to overcome Haynes’ negative image. Haynes himself had always said that in politics perception conquers reality. The problem with Haynes’ image was addressed in a position paper authored by Cranston Browne, an Executive member, which stated that Haynes’ image was one of the party’s biggest problems. Although it can be said that Haynes’ positives started to improve, the party’s management was thought to be somewhat secretive.

The BLP and DLP successfully painted Haynes as extremely rich. The propaganda on the ground, being that the party was being financed by wealthy white business people, who had conspired with Haynes to “sell out ” the country. NDP candidates in the field were being accused of not spending the money when they were canvassing. It was very difficult to counter that belief. Most of us were essentially broke and could not compete with our opponents in the money ring. Our candidates, in most cases, could not afford to establish constituency offices and therefore could not afford to convince experienced canvassers in the constituencies to join assist them.

The party was resilient enough to contest three general elections, which in my opinion, was a creditable achievement. However, not having proper constituency branches was a problem from the inception. Haynes was not a big believer in constituency branches. He preferred the town hall styled meetings that provided good optics. He refused to accept that the town hall meetings were attracting the same faces. From a pure public relations perspective, he had a mortal fear of small numbers and did not see the sense in keeping constituency meetings that, for a new party, would scarcely attract more than two dozen people, if the branch was well organized.

When we review the above: the perceived reasons for its failure; Haynes’ negative image; candidates’ weak financial strength and poor constituency presence, it is easy to see why the party could not effectively remove the BLP/DLP. These parties had popular leaders: Forde, Sandiford and Arthur. They have tremendous constituency presence; well established candidates; longstanding financiers and most of all solid supporters. It will be noted that Haynes eventually regained his seat. However, for all his opposition to constituency branches, he maintained excellent constituency management, with an experienced cadre of “captains” even when he was out of parliament.

Conclusion

The late Prime Minister of Jamaica, Mr. Michael Manley, wrote in his book, The Politics of Change, that there are three approaches to politics and therefore three approaches to power since “politics is the business of power”. According to this excellent thinker: there are men who see power as something to be acquired for its own sake; there are those who see power to be used for the purpose of minor adjustment in the society and then there are the idealists who seek to arrange fundamental change. I have concluded that when the National Democratic Party no longer served Haynes’ interest, he quietly put it to sleep.

It was Sir Roy Trotman who said that: “the NDP was formed for the wrong reason, at the wrong time by the wrong people”. There was obviously no party structure that would have been present to prolong its life. Its death therefore was as orchestrated as its birth.