BLP ‘the real enemy’

Political leader of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Ralph Thorne has acknowledged his disruptive influence on the party, but reiterated the real enemy remained the Barbados Labour Party.

On Monday during the DLP’s 69th anniversary picnic at River Bay, St Lucy, Thorne said he understood how the sudden appearance of a political leader threw the party into a level of confusion.

“I’m sure [my appearance] created confusion, by coming into the party and assuming a leadership role immediately – it would create some disruption. There are some who would not accept it easily; I accept that. I am not without some sensitivity so I know how it could traumatise people that this man comes into the party and he is tasked into the role of political leader automatically.

“I did not expect people to accept me readily. Some have, and some have not and I appreciate the circumstances, but it has to be sorted out. There has to be acceptance because ultimately, an organisation is ruled by its constitution and the constitution describes me as political leader and I accept that responsibility,” he told the DAILY NATION.

He said the importance of the role of party leader could not be underestimated and some of the confusion might lie in some members of the party not recognising the clear differences between his role as political and Opposition Leader, and Dr Ronnie Yearwood’s as president and party leader.

“The president deals with the administration of the party – the running of the party, the physical location of the party, the communications between the party and its constituent branches. All that is what the president does. The political leader’s work involves going into the wider public domain and carrying out a political mandate.

“Running a party is a very difficult job. You are talking about the paying of bills, the maintenance of the premises, relations with branches, ensuring branches have their executive councils in place and all the administration of the party. But in terms of trying to win a government, that falls under the political leader,” the Christ Church South Member of Parliament said.

Thorne said there was scope for both positions to be filled by different individuals as both parties had done so in the past, though he added the roles tended to merge around election time. He said Yearwood had been shouldering the full load until his arrival and now it was shared between them, which some people still struggled to accept.

“I think the problem may lie in the fact that, prior to February, we did not have a political leader so the president was taking on both roles. The ceding of the role of political leader to me created some confusion and I recognised I came into a situation at the top. I defer to people’s sensibilities but you have to recognise it is something which cannot be helped.

“It ought not to be problematic. It will only become so if we, Dr Yearwood and myself, confuse people by not partitioning the roles properly. There may be some members who feel old loyalties but it is something that can be sorted out quite easily,” he said.

The King’s Counsel said the DLP could not afford to take its eyes off the prize – that of exposing the current administration’s deficiencies. He said Government’s mismanagement of the economy and social policy, high national debt, cost of living, the lack of a new constitution and crime were among the major issues facing Barbadians, adding it was “wrong” for people to instead focus on the internal issues of the DLP as the island’s leading political problem.

When asked for a comment on the party’s leadership issues, including the no-confidence motion tabled by general secretary Steve Blackett to have Thorne expelled from the DLP, both Yearwood and Blackett said they were there to enjoy themselves alongside members of the party and not to speak on such matters.

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