Pundits: Another early election could doom DLP

If an early election is called in Barbados any time soon, it will be a case of “too little too late” for the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) who would face another massive loss at the polls.

That’s the feeling of political scientist Dr Kristina Hinds, in response to the latest development in the party with general secretary Steve Blackett being suspended by the General Council Thursday night.

Hinds also believes some parties should step back, or even step away so new political leader Ralph Thorne could rebrand the party and present a new vision to the country.

“We do not know when a General Election may be. This is precious time that is being wasted by the DLP. If a General Election is called sooner than people expect, then certainly it is too little too late for the DLP,” Hinds said on Friday.

She said should the full five-year cycle be used by the incumbent Government, however, the DLP might be able to get its house in order.

“If the election is called on schedule, I do believe they have enough time to make some of the changes needed to at least capture some seats.”

Hinds said she was not optimistic right now that the current iteration of the DLP could be successful at the polls. “The party needs to settle down and work out these leadership issues. It may be that some of the parties involved could consider stepping down or stepping back from the positions they hold and allow the new dynamic to play out.”

The university lecturer also said it might be useful for president of the party Dr Ronnie Yearwood to focus on what constituency he plans to run in for the next General Election and allow for Thorne to make decisions and take the party in the direction he wants to take it.

“The DLP has a very tough job ahead of it in preparing for a General Election. This has not done the DLP any favours,” she said about Blackett’s suspension.

The political scientist expects the road ahead to be long and hard.

“Even if the party can deal with its leadership issues, it still has to present its vision and could benefit from a rebrand, so that people know what to expect from the DLP, led by its political leader Ralph Thorne. I haven’t seen that much so far.”

Hinds said what she was seeing from the party was not vibrant enough to attract new members.

“They have to do a lot of work on that front, but instead are wasting a lot of energy on other matters.”

Political scientist Devaron Bruce said that due to the recurring infighting within the party, the DLP had no viability. “Barbadians will not take them seriously, but I won’t say these issues will lead to the death of the party.”

He said some involved in the DLP’s first defeat at the polls in 2018 were not yet over the defeat  and were still making excuses. “They’re still a bit delusional,” Bruce said.

Bruce, also a university lecturer at the Cave Hill Campus, suggested: “Whoever thinks the DLP still has a viable future needs to step back and allow the people who want to take the party forward now, to do so. “Let things play out,” he advised the party.

He said the future of the party ironically now lies in the hands of Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, based on when she calls the next General Election, constitutionally due in 2027.

Pollster and political scientist Peter Wickham told this newspaper on Friday that in his view, Blackett had crossed the line and his no-confidence motion in Thorne did not leave the party a space it could ‘walk back’ from. He said Blackett’s suspension could allow for Yearwood and Thorne to meet, discuss and come up with a DLP plan.

“You always want that opportunity to walk back statements. This issue has to be dealt with in private and the one block to that was Steve Blackett. The party has now isolated Blackett from the issue and it gives the opportunity for Yearwood and Thorne to bang heads together and come up with some kind of resolution that preserved the dignity of both parties.”

He said such a plan could give the Barbadian public a sense that there was confidence in the team at the top of the party. “I think it’s good that the party has taken control and that they are doing something about it,” Wickham suggested. The political scientist added that Blackett’s suspension could give him the time to think and withdraw his motion against the party’s political leader.

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