Dems Ever Again ?
Even though there are those Barbadians who read the words “Democratic” and “Labour” and “Party” together and immediately feel like bathing
Even though there are those who – when asked about the future of the DLP – reason “Dum could go long and dead!”
…a healthy functioning Democratic Labour Party continues to be essential, in two-party Barbados. Since we’re not yet sure if any of the newer parties should be taken seriously long-term, the continued relevance of the DLP is sorely needed, even if only for options, opposition and political landscaping.
And, since we’re a year on from THAT Election,
and anyone interested enough to pay attention may feel confused by the (dis)array of public statements put out by different Dems at different times during the year since then, I’m here to help.
I went ahead and put together the BIGGEST questions Barbados may wish the DLP to consider, before they attempt to roll themselves back out to the wider public.
Without further ado, I give you:
When exactly did the DLP stop DLPing + 5 other post-Election, deep dive questions for the Dems
What happened last year (and why)?
When you’re courting PUBLIC opinion, you don’t get to determine the conversation that the public should be having.
DLP President Verla Depeiza is claiming full steam AHEAD;
2018 campaign manager Bobby Morris is claiming the DLP owes no one any apologies;
The post-Election approach to taking the DLP forward seems clear:
1) Shun weakness & avoid talking about the past
2) Project strength & emphasise talk about the future
3) Keep focus on the ‘sins’ of the governing Barbados Labour Party
(assuming size matters, and Bee sins are somehow bigger than Dem sins)
Here you have a party attempting to communicate with the public as though the party suffered an election loss.
Let’s look back at the stats:
Or redraw the political map of Barbados. Or give up safe seats, and make new seats safe…for the BLP
The DLP didn’t suffer an election loss; what the DLP really suffered was an election wipeout.
Current strategy assumes that Barbadians don’t care either about the election result, or why it happened, whereas the whole of Barbados is acutely aware of the election result and why it happened.
The whole of Barbados also knows that the Dems have found it tough to apologise and/or humble themselves before the public, in the past. If the 2019 Dems are any kinda serious about recapturing (some) Bajan minds, they may be better served making time for a holistic assessment of everything that brought them here – going backward, before they can come forward, by addressing their own sins.
Of course, then, the next logical question for the Dems should then be…
Have you been doing your research ?
I pitied the person who had to advise the DLP after May 24 last year, but the logical place to start on the long road of rebuilding public trust would be talking to ‘regular Barbadians’ to get a sense of where the Party stands and what people would (not) be willing to entertain in the short to medium term.
According to Verla Depeiza the Dems had a consultant come in at some point, and demonstrate why they lost and how the public sees them,
If this presentation was then used to develop the current strategy, we should wonder: Did the presentation really exist ? Did it even mean anything to the Dems, or was it done in an effort to tell the public it was done? (Full steam ahead!)
In the real world, the Dems’ continued guidance SHOULD be:
-Based on data collected from the public, by a professional, on the DLP’s behalf
And NOT be:
-Based on what DLP stalwarts claim they are “hearing on the ground“.
Taking a serious research approach to the DLP’s Questions should inevitably lead to talk of…
What is the DLP’s brand ?
If the Democratic Labour Party is supposed to be the Party with the widest base of voters, and known as
-The Party of the People
-Elevating people out of poverty/growing the middle class,
-Defending the masses from being exploited by the ruling class
-Promoting empowerment through education & entrepreneurship
then Dems should ask themselves – HOW EXACTLY did the Barbados Labour Party manage to own ALL of those narratives, in the most recent election ???
The truth is that the ‘Democratic Labour Party’ as we know it melted away during 2008-2018 and completely ceased to exist on May 24 last year.
Instead of the DLP what we really have now is the ghost of the DLP waiting to take the shape that will carry it deep into the 21st century.
By 2023 Elections there will be Barbadians eligible to vote who were born almost 20 years after the death of the great Errol Barrow; ain’t nobody but the most hardcore and disgruntled Dems (there are lots of them, too) thinking about Barrow’s legacy. But voters definitely continue to think about the doings (and lack of doings) of the last Government.
And, since we’re talking about brand, let’s just go ahead and ask
When did the DLP stop DLPing ???
Looking back now at most of the characters constituting the 2008-2018 DLP government –
Denises Lowe AND Kellman,
the once-loved Donville
and, of course,
F Jerome Stuart
we’re left to wonder if this collection of individuals ever had any right presiding over Barbados’ affairs IN THE FIRST PLACE.
This fact leads us to ask not only how the Dems go about vetting their candidates, but also how vetting the candidates managed to conclude that this set of individuals somehow embodied the values set forth by the great Errol Barrow, whom the Dems want us to revere.
I mean, do Dems even take their own brand seriously ?
Dems should that consider if they really want to brand themselves using Barbados’ colours, suggestions of strength, images of children etc. then they will need to convince Barbados that the people set forth to represent the Party are really the types of individuals to exhibit at least some of those values.
ON TOPPA THAT they have to (eventually) convince people that their Party’s values are better for Barbados than those currently being offered by the BLP.
Which leads me to the next question…
Does disgruntled BLP support = DLP support?
The Dems’ post-election approach – or lack of approach – to the public suggests they may be playing the long game
hoping that, by opposing and staying relevant, people will eventually grow tired of the BLP Government and give Dem a fresh chance.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I’m sure Verla Depeiza is a fine politician, but she ain ‘Aunty Verla’; her willing affiliation with the previous administration precludes her from being the singular, revolutionary leader the DLP may need at this time. Sure she’s the Party’s first female leader, and I’m sure that must be worth SOMETHING somewhere across the cosmos but over here on Earth, people who are disgruntled having voted for the BLP will NOT be magically switching their support to the DLP now or any time in the near future – as long as the issue of trust remains.
You see, the Dems are hoping to convince voters:
-That they’re – at least – as good as what the Bees appear to offer (not that the Bees are God’s gift – more on them in another post).
-They’re a credible force to lead the country
(whereas they first have to convince voters that they’re a credible force, full stop)
-That the DLP is a Party of the future, while simultaneously – somehow – erasing people’s memories of the past
The Dems may not be able to match the BLP for ‘gloss’ and marketing (which go a long way with Bajan voters) but furthermore they can’t make people unsee the 10 years of their last government. They will need not only to be better than the BLP in some department that holds significance with voters, but also to divest themselves of narratives of their immediate past.
A difficult thing to do, to be sure, but one which leads us to talk about
-the elephant in the room,
-the Dems’ achilles heel
-the issue likely to undo the Dems for a long time
(the bottom line)
Why would people trust you?
Before we attempt to answer THAT, let’s review the Dems’ likely answers to our Questions so far:
Question 1 – What happened/why?
That’s in the past; we’re dealing with the future
Question 2 – Doing your research?
We don’t need research; we had a consultant come & tell us everything we need to know, in one presentation
Question 3 – What’s your brand?
What we think: The Errol Barrow Memorial Party
The reality: Everything we did wrong while in office
Question 4 – When’d the DLP stop DLPing?
We don’t even remember what ‘the real DLP’ is anymore
Question 5 – Disgruntled BLP support = Dems’ support?
What we think: Yes!
The reality: Nope! Not with our track record!
And now – Why WOULD people trust Dems?
This is a question Dems can’t answer – not without attempting to frame an answer in the context of the BLP – but everyone else knows what their answer would be:
There is currently no reason to trust the DLP – and there may not be a logical reason for the next 20 years.
The problem with the most recent Dem government of course wasn’t just what the Dem Government was doing or – more often – not doing. It was the attitudes of the Dems and their supporters towards the public while (not) doing things.
“The economy has turned the corner”
“Potholes are transient inconveniences”
“A march or a walk by union leaders. . .in an aim to lose some weight or to burn calories”
Chances are the Dems managed to create so much political ill will for themselves that they won’t be in the political wilderness for the next 5 or 10 years, but for the next 20. Maybe, realising the Party’s brand and trust are shot, a fresh new political force will splinter from the DLP, as young Dems get tired seeing themselves grow old waiting for the Party’s image to be restored.
Meanwhile, even if their public statements appear to be ever more delusional, and even if their fortunes appear destined to get worse before they get better, the Dems are still here doing misguided things in the present. And we continue to be conscious of them, even if we don’t want to. And so, we watch the space; asking of the void the questions that the Dems should sooner or later be asking themselves.