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(BARBADOS TODAY) Although saying he was honoured that retired politician Hamilton Lashley had identified him as the ideal person to lead the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), former contender for the presidency Reverend Guy Hewitt believes the party’s bigger issue is determining how to move forward to regain public confidence.
And he believes both the DLP membership and the general public should have a say in that. After leading the DLP into a 30-nil defeat at the polls last month, Verla DePeiza resigned as party president, triggering the party to plan a special conference in April to elect her successor. In an interview with Barbados TODAY earlier this week, Lashley said Reverend Hewitt, who was defeated by DePeiza in the contest for the presidency in August 2020, was now the perfect candidate for the position.
However, Hewitt said the focus should not be on him or anybody else, but on the party identifying what is required to “move the DLP from where it is at this time”. “And when I say where it is, I mean looking at the results of the 2018 and 2022 general elections and where it needs to be in terms of emerging as a credible force, as an alternative to the current administration and the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to again manage the affairs of Barbados and move us forward as a nation and as a country,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“And, so, I would want that process to be rigorous. I would want us to look beyond just a one-off pool where it is based on who has the better campaign and mobilises the most people or is seen to be most popular amongst the George Street faithful, and really let the widest possible membership and also the public at large who support the DLP have some input in what they are looking for and what the party needs.”
Reverend Hewitt added that the elders in the party who understand politics, leadership, and governance should be given the opportunity to have a say on what is required for the party to move forward.
He suggested that candidates seeking leadership positions in the party should engage in a series of debates to convince people they are up to the task. “We must try to do it differently. I feel we owe it to the membership. I am saying this not to pre-empt the president or the executive or the general council in making a decision on the way forward, but just as a Barbadian and as a citizen that wants the best for democracy, encouraging them to really come up with a process that gives not just the party confidence but the country confidence that the DLP is really ready to position itself for the next election to give choice to the electorate – which is what our democracy needs, what the country I think is calling for at this time,” he said.
Hewitt said the low voter turnout at the January 19 general elections was a reflection of the loss of confidence, by the electorate, in the political options on offer.
He said that should be a wake-up call for not only the DLP, but for all political parties and politicians in Barbados to question why people felt that democracy, politics, and politicians are not working in their interest. Hewitt noted that all of what Barbados has gained as an independent nation, particularly social and economic development, has been based on a strong, competent functional two-party system.
“And I don’t want the DLP or the BLP to flounder in its role, in terms of keeping Barbados on track to be the kind of leading nation that we have been proud of as Bajans,” he said. “The world has looked unto us as a leading light and an example of good governance and good democracy. That, unfortunately, is not where we seem to be at this time so there is a lot of work to be done by those who are committed to democracy to try to make sure we are back on track as soon as we possibly can,” Hewitt added.