‘What Is The “Mirror Image” of the DLP?’ by David Comissiong

Way back in 1985 I joined the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) when it was in Opposition, and played my little part in helping it to win the Government in 1986. And during the course of that 1986 General Election, our DLP party leader – the Right Excellent Errol Barrow – encouraged us , in a speech that came to be known as the “Mirror Image” speech , to examine ourselves closely, to look at ourselves as if we were looking into a mirror, and to determine whether we really liked what we saw.

Shortly thereafter - in 1987 - Mr Barrow died and Mr Erskine Sandiford (now Sir Lloyd Sandiford) became leader of the DLP. Four years later, Mr Sandiford took our party into a General Election campaign in which he made a great spectacle of assuring the people of Barbados that everything was fine with the economy , and there was absolutely no truth to the Barbados Labour Party's allegation that the country was about to go into an International Monetary Fund (IMF) austerity programme. Indeed, his famous boast was that "the economy was batting like Sir Garfield Sobers"!

Shortly thereafter – in 1987 – Mr Barrow died and Mr Erskine Sandiford (now Sir Lloyd Sandiford) became leader of the DLP. Four years later, Mr Sandiford took our party into a General Election campaign in which he made a great spectacle of assuring the people of Barbados that everything was fine with the economy , and there was absolutely no truth to the Barbados Labour Party’s allegation that the country was about to go into an International Monetary Fund (IMF) austerity programme. Indeed, his famous boast was that “the economy was batting like Sir Garfield Sobers“!

Needless-to-say, within one week of the DLP’s General Election victory in 1991, Mr. Sandiford announced that IMF officials were already in the country; that he was taking Barbados into an IMF Structural Adjustment Programme; and that some 6,000 public servants were being dismissed!

It was at that point in time that I was compelled to do what Ms. Errol Barrow had mandated me to do! As a member of the Democratic Labour Party, I had to look at my party in the mirror, and I had to determine if I liked what I saw. And, having done so, I came to the conclusion that I simply could not remain a member of a political party had committed such a massive act of deception against the people of Barbados, and I therefore resigned from the DLP.

Simply put – I had joined the DLP in the hard days of opposition, and I left the DLP when it was in Government. I was prepared to give up the benefits which went with being attached to a political party in government, such as my post as a Director of the Transport Board and my retainer as one of the lawyers of the Insurance Corporation of Barbados. I was prepared to make these sacrifices because when I looked in the mirror I did not like the image of my political party that was peering back at me!

Well, the time has now come for the current members of the Democratic Labour Party to have their own "mirror image" experience! They now find themselves members of a political party that , just a few short months ago , went up and down the length and breadth of this country assuring the people of Barbados that they were profoundly committed to the maintenance of the jobs of all public sector employees, and that a vote for them was a vote for job preservation, but that has now unashamedly announced the jettisoning of some 3,500 public sector employees and the destruction of another 2,000 public service jobs!

Well, the time has now come for the current members of the Democratic Labour Party to have their own “mirror image” experience! They now find themselves members of a political party that , just a few short months ago , went up and down the length and breadth of this country assuring the people of Barbados that they were profoundly committed to the maintenance of the jobs of all public sector employees, and that a vote for them was a vote for job preservation, but that has now unashamedly announced the jettisoning of some 3,500 public sector employees and the destruction of another 2,000 public service jobs!

Surely, the time has come for the members of the DLP to do as Mr. Barrow mandated us to do – to examine themselves and their political party closely; to look at themselves and their party as if they were looking into a mirror; and to determine whether they like what they see!

Now, I don’t know if any of them will be prepared to carry out such an
exercise of honest and rigorous self-examination, but I can tell you (and them) that the tragic truth is that when I look at the DLP Administration of the past six years what I see is an Administration that :-

(1) presided over six years of inertia and inaction in relation to the economy of Barbados – failing to stimulate the economy; failing to make timely and necessary reforms; failing to institute new economic ventures; failing to grow the economy;

(2) undermined the self-confidence and initiative of the people of Barbados by their prolonged (and continuing) failure to communicate to the people any semblance of a national mission or any national sense of purpose;

(3) perverted the critical re-distributive role of Government by directing the vast majority of sizable government contracts to a few big white companies that are benefactors and cronies of the
DLP;

(4) instituted a virtual reign of terror in relation to undocumented CARICOM nationals living and working in Barbados, deporting many of them and, as a result, damaging the Barbadian economy by depriving it of critical workers who were contributing to Barbados in a variety of
ways;

(5) severely damaged Barbados’ hard earned image and reputation as an outstanding leader in the fields of Caribbean integration and nation-building;

(6) launched a treacherous assault on the most precious principles of our Errol Barrow – constructed, Barbadian system of Social Democracy, namely, the principles of free education and free and accessible
public health care;

(7) reduced the quality and tone of public life and parliamentary debate to a new low, with an approach to politics that is characterised by insult, invective, buffoon-like behaviour, demagoguery, and a lack of respect for the intelligence of the Barbadian people;

(8) introduced the spectre of threats and intimidation to our system of politics, with government minsters and other officials sinking to the level of threatening that the Police may have to “crack heads and shoot people“, and referring Opposition parliamentarians and journalists to the Police for investigation;

(9) collaborated with the Barbados Labour Party in reducing our electoral process to a new low, by radically intensifying and spreading the corrupt practice of exchanging hard cash for votes on election day;

(10) intensified and exacerbated the precarious state of our economy by engaging in irresponsible and extravagant government spending and hiring of employees as a narrow partisan ploy to win the 2013 General Elections;

(11) embarrassed the entire nation with such a spineless and unprincipled approach to foreign policy that we reneged on doing our
duty in such a straightforward matter as voting for the oppressed state of Palestine to be granted official status at the United Nations;

(12) intensified the evil and destructive practice of political patronage in Barbados by perverting the noble concept of Local Government and putting in place a highly partisan DLP manned and controlled system of Constituency Councils;

(13) systematically failed to listen to and engage with well meaning and patriotic Barbadians who spent years trying to warn the DLP Government about the dangers that they were courting and the need for
early and sensible interventions and policies; and

(14) spent six long years (and counting) feeding the Barbadian people the negative and dispiriting tripe that Barbados and the Barbados Government could do nothing to counteract the effects of the international recession, while throughout the world countless other small developing countries were putting innovative measures in place and forging ahead with their economic growth and development!

David A. Comissiong President, Clement Payne Movement

David A. Comissiong
President, Clement Payne Movement

This – sadly – is the “mirror image” of the DLP of 2013! Is that the “mirror image” that we want of a political party that is holding the reins of government in our country? Can the Barbados that we have come to know survive or be maintained with that type of leadership? I, for one, do not think so!

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