Barbadian society has grown more conservative over time by Neville Clarke

It has been established that ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s New Labour Party was able to wrestle power from the Conservative Party because he and his political associates had come to recognise that Old Labour was appealing to an electorate that no longer existed.

Neville Clarke believes;- "It is mind boggling that at a time when the level of unemployment stands at 11 per cent; water rates have been increased by 60 per cent ; road tax for small cars have moved from $265 per annum to $400 per annum and every day small businesses are being locked out of malls for non-payment of rent, young people can journey from a rural parish to witness a non-event in the seat of government."

In other words, Old Labour which had a preponderance of socialist ideologues who believed that the state should make an input in every aspect of people’s lives, New Labour on the other hand, believed that a more affluent and a better educated people should be given more autonomy.

Blair had recalled that by 1992, Old Labour had lost four general elections and had garnered just 32 per cent of the popular vote.

Arguing that a political organisation must respond to the changing political environment in which it operates, Blair said: “I had realised the labour problem was self-made and self-induced. We were not in touch with the modern world.

Acknowledging that the socialist programmes introduced during the post 1945 period had created a vibrant middle class with a new perspective on life, Blair warned: “All progressive movements have to beware of their success. The progress they make re-invents the society they work in, and they must in turn re-invent themselves to keep up, otherwise they become hollow echoes from a once loud, strong voice, reverberating still, but to little effect.

He further noted that that the aspirant working class aspires to be middle class, a reality which contradicts Marx prediction of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Blair maintained that if Labour were to become the ruling party in a changing environment where millions of working class families had clawed their way into the middle class, New Labour had to appeal to the peculiar concerns of this newly emerging class.

Blair’s analysis partially explains why the sons and daughters of working class parents in Barbados are now identifying with the neo-liberal policies imposed from Washington.

It also explains why thousands of our youth find no difficulty in identifying with such anachronistic designations as “Queen”, dynasty and the inheritance of political office by neophytes.

It is mind boggling that at a time when the level of unemployment stands at 11 per cent; water rates have been increased by 60 per cent ; road tax for small cars have moved from $265 per annum to $400 per annum and every day small businesses are being locked out of malls for non-payment of rent, young people can journey from a rural parish to witness a non-event in the seat of government.

The water-front workers who showed solidarity with the Right Excellent Sir Grantley Adams and the Right Excellent Sir Frank Walcott during the formative years of the local trade union movement would have seen such a an event for what it was – a circus without the accompanying bread –and focused their energies on the struggle which sought the removal of privilege and social injustice. Under these circumstances, we may yet see the re-emergence of a conservative party led by one of these modern day fascists who benefited from the socialist programmes of yesteryear.

Small wonder that a distinguished scholar of yesteryear, after observing the elevation of ignorance and sycophancy on stilts in his society was moved to say in despair: “Men distinguished in philosophy, poetry or art appear to be all of melancholy temperament.”

Neville Clarke

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