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.
A predictable event has fired up yet again in the DLP.
It was obvious to the greenest political pundit Dr. Ronnie Yearwood would have to face a challenge for the leadership of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) sooner or later. Many subscribe to the management concept leaders emerge and therefore Yearwood must be able to fight off all comers to establish his bona fides. Although true in theory there is a reality that nuances the political landscape of Barbados given the results of the last two general elections and how it has decimated the DLP brand. The DLP may no longer be considered a credible altenative. If the DLP perform as miserable at the next general election, Barbados will have a constitutional crisis on its hands.
The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) has been reduced to a comatose state because of two significant defeats by a Mia Mottley led Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in 2018 and 2022. Former DLP President Verla De Peiza for her futile effort leading a DLP in shambles post the so called ‘lost decade’ had to resign. There is a reality that the DLP decision makers must accept, little has occurred since 2022 to positively reposition the DLP brand in the minds of a cynical and apathetic public. It does not mean Prime Minister Mia Mottley and the BLP enjoy the best support. What is means is that in the land of the blind, a one eye woman is Queen.
It would be remiss of the blogmaster if the yesterday’s 2022 Grenada general election was not highlighted in this space. Keith Mitchell’s New National Party (NNP) won consecutive general elections in 2013 and 2018. The Mia Mottley led Barbados Labour Party (BLP) won consecutive general elections in 2018 and 2022. Today the Prime Minister of Grenada is 44 year old Dikcon Mitchell who led the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to office based on preliminary reporting 9 seats to 6. To his credit 75 year old Keith Mitchell won his seat.
Another example of the people expressing its will in a democracy. Time will tell if the NDC is able to satisfy people expectation or another case of shuffling chairs on the deck of the Titanic. It exposes Mia Mottley and the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) should NOT take its unprecedented mandate for granted. Less than a year into a second term and there is growing discontentment from Barbadians largely because of increasing harsh economic conditions brought on by negative movements in the external market. The main political opposition Democratic Labour Party (DLP) – not dissimilar to the NDC – is led by a new young Dr. Ronnie Yearwood. In fact Dickon Mitchell was invited to speak at the DLP’s Extraordinary Conference on 1 May 2022. The win should help to inspire Yearwood and his team to what is possible.
Some of us recognise the winning of a general election does not translate to manna from heaven, although it relieves concerns about a threat to ‘democracy’ by becoming a de facto one party state. Grenada like Barbados is a small island developing state which makes the job of governing for any government a challenge.
In the case of Mottley and Barbados one suspects if Yearwood is able to present a set of believable plans for Barbados and surround himself with a tean that is perceived as credible, who knows what is possible next election round. The recent decision by the Barbados government to borrow $256 million is not resonating well with the public. In theory many Barbados may understand we need to fix roads and attend to physical infrastructure BUT at what price. The debt stock of Barbados is north of 13 billion!
The blogmaster will continue to retreat to a position some do not accept. Citizens must continue find ways to agitate against our governments – to hold feet to fire. Politicians are in the business of popularity even if it comes at the expense of the people who elected them.
It is 148 days since the last general election in Barbados. The result returned the Mia Mottley led Barbados Labour Party (BLP) the office in unprecedented manner and forced the DLP to jettison Verla De Peiza as President- replaced by Dr. Ronnie Yearwood who has been in seat for 49 days. Is it too soon some are asking for a coherent policy position to be emanating from George Street?
The saying goes that extraordinary times require extraordinary people, there is no denying we are living in extraordinary times. That said, it is a reasonable expectation by Barbadians to expect those presenting themselves for public office to hit the ground running. The system of democracy- even if a parody of the Westminster system practised by Barbados- requires a strident dissenting voice. In Yearwood’s defence he is president of a private entity and his first obligation is try to infuse a DLP suffering near political coma.
President Dr. Ronnie Yearwood recently made a statement challenging government’s ‘proposed plan’ to tackle cost of living. The blogmaster’s position has always been it is a difficult undertaking for a party in opposition without full grasp of the public purse to offer constructive alternatives. Yearwood is understandably trying to piggyback on issues resonating with the public. On the other side of the issue, Mottley has the task of managing an economy still spluttering from the shock of 2008 global meltdown and the so-called ‘lost decade’ which followed.
BU’s Artax analyzed Yearwood’s recent cost of living recommendations. It was not complimentary.
Yearwood isn’t proposing anything NEW.
From economists, political scientists, members of special interest groups, contributors to social media platforms, former DLP president DePeiza, Lynette Eastmond, Joseph Atherley, Grenville Phillips II, aspiring politicians…… to the ‘average man and woman on the streets,’ criticised the size of Mottley’s Cabinet and the number of consultants, almost immediately after she announced them, following the May 24, 2018 and January 19, 2022 general elections…….and have been calling on her to reduce the number since then.
The 1% levy on persons earning $6,250 per month was also heavily criticised. But, I can’t understand how its removal would help poor people. Perhaps Yearwood could offer further explanations.
From the inception of VAT in 1998, the DLP and BLP while in Opposition, have asked and promised to expand the ‘basket of goods,’ only to reneged on their promises after ‘taking up the reins of government.’
“Remove the excise tax on fuel by 40 cents per litre and to offer relief to pensioners,” has also been previously suggested.
“Calling on Government to bring forward the reverse tax credit of $1300 for people earning below $25,000 per annum,” also requires further explanation, especially when one takes into consideration that the DEMS reduced the reverse tax credit to $650 during the recession. How does he plan to finance $1,300 to be paid to an increase in the number of persons who would become eligible?
Who are the members of DLP’s economic team? Under former president De peiza it was not clear. In the current challenging economic times, compounded by the perilous state of the economy, quality people, quality decisions must form part of a DLP looking to be perceived as competent by an apathetic and cynical electorate, especially in the area of finance.
Three months after the second defeat in a general election Democratic Labour Party (DLP) members voted for Dr. Ronnie Yearwood to replace Verla Depeiza who resigned in the aftermath of what transpired. He won by a reported vote of 273 to 205.
It is surprising more of the 800+ DLP members eligible to vote were not motivated to participate yesterday. It would have sent a strong signal to the public that there is a burning desire by the party to get back on track given the herculean rebuild effort. The last contest between Guy Hewitt and Verla Depeiza attracted a 507 to 295 vote, President Yearwood has a gargantuan task ahead. David Estwick who could not command significant support from the parliamentary group after David Thompson died in office and was a bane to the party during Stuart’s tenure attracted 205 votes from DLP party members. There is a lot political pundits can unpack from the result.
The next three years will be a critical in the rebuild period of the party. The next 18 months will be crucial for Dr. Yearwood to measure his success as a politician. By taking on the DLP presidency at this juncture in its history one suspects if he is perceived to be unable to breath life into a political party currently in a comatose state -it may doom him to be a stillborn DLP politician like his predecessor. Similar to when Owen Arthur became leader of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in 1993, Yearwood does not command a significant power-base in the party. Neither is he a member of parliament. Arthur was able to successfully navigate that early period because he received strong support from elders of the party. Hopefully the DLP will be able to learn from the BLP experience and avoid making unforced mistakes.
It is understandable a significant number of DLP members continue to be disillusioned, who would not be after losing at last count 61 times at the polling booth. The Freundel Stuart era is one the party will have to work hard to overcome. It will be crucial for Yearwood to display the leadership required to co-opt early support from losing candidates David Estwick and Guy Hewitt in order to present a united front to current membership and the wider public. The adage united we stand, divided we fall seems an apt reminder to all concerned. This will be crucial for the party to be perceived as making progress to members of the public.
An emerging Barbadian voter is ready for a new kind of politics. The naked partisan behaviour and empty rhetoric seen and heard from today’s politicians and old guard is on the way out. It will be hard- in many cases impossible- for dye in the wool DEMs to shift positions. Hopefully under Yearwood’s leadership enough are persuaded to shift perspectives and he is also able to attract enough NEW members to make a difference.
Until the DLP is able to make a ‘course correction’ and elusive alternative third party political options emerge the saying that in the land of the blind one eye man is king will continue to ring true. In the system of government practiced by Barbados the best results occur with a strident opposition voice IN parliament.
On behalf of the BU household the blogmaster congratulates Dr. Ronnie Yearwood for showing the courage to undertake a job that must rank high on the unwanted job scale at this time.
The report coming out of the Public Forum by a group led by Dr. Ronnie Yearwood and company in July 2017 (Shantal Munroe-Knight, Krystle Howell, Donna Every, Dr. Joseph Herbert, Corey Layne, Teisha Hinds, Jason Carmichael, Dr. Troy Lorde, Lisa Gale and Jeanelle Clarke) is attached for comment. The document can also be accessed on the group’s Facebook page – Barbados Public Forum.
“I wish to suggest that my topic, “The Future of Work: Technology and Humanity”, is one for urgent scrutiny by the leaders of Barbados in every sector, and both the army of occupation currently at the top of Broad Street, in Bay Street and Warrens, and to be frank, in the context of the touch word today “innovative”, they are hardly that.
Questions therefore arise as to, can we somehow pivot amidst the challenges of a changing world — in the so-called Fourth Revolution, the technological age — to reposition Barbados, to reap benefits and set the stage for our people to have a better life?”
The duration of the lecture is over two hours but worth the listen. Many of the views shared my Dr. Ronnie Yearwood last night have been mooted repeatedly on BU. It is important a greater number of Barbadians from the academic class step out of the comfort zone to challenge the establishment. It is evident- even to the ignorant -that our system needs remodelling. We need our brightest to lead the way.