Exploring the ‘third party’ idea

EVERSLEY FilesSome leading political commentators have rubbished the idea, but, with increasing frequency, Barbadians are clamouring for a serious alternative to both the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) and Democratic Labour Party (DLP), which have dominated national politics for the past 50 years.

The rejection of a “third party” as a viable idea is largely based on historical grounds. The gist of the critics’ argument is that others have tried before and failed. Hence, any fresh attempt is doomed to suffer a similar fate. Mostly political scientists are spouting this line.

They cite, in particular, the short-lived National Democratic Party (NDP) which was established by the late Sir Richard Haynes, after he resigned from the Erskine Sandiford Cabinet and left the DLP with three other MPs in the late 1980s. The party contested the 1994 general election, winning one seat after fielding a full slate of candidates, and remained active until about the mid-1990s.

Critics argue that if a high-profile personality like Dr Haynes, with national stature and charisma, could not pull it off, it is unlikely anyone else will. I beg to disagree. What transpired almost 30 years ago is not a reliable gauge for predicting what will happen today because fundamentally different conditions exist.

However, I am not surprised political scientists have taken this stance. It is a reflection of how their thinking has been conditioned by their training.

Political scientists are primarily exposed to political history, theory and philosophy, and see issues from this perspective. They are not trained in the practice of politics which is the focus of the offshoot discipline of political management. Hence, my esteemed good friend and former comrade in battle Dr Tennyson Joseph would label persons like myself who believe a third party can succeed, as “dreamers”.

In his haste to pour cold water on the idea, what Dr Joseph, head of the Department of Government at UWI, Cave Hill, overlooked is the irrefutable fact that in order to achieve, one must first conceive. Being called a dreamer, therefore, is not a badge of dishonour. Dreaming, as most successful people will attest, is always the critical first step towards striking it big.

My training is in political management. Currently taught at just a few universities worldwide, the discipline emerged in response to the limitations and deficiencies of political science in explaining the complexities of real world politics. Hence, political management places heavy emphasis on imparting skills for the effective practice of politics at the party and governmental levels –– put another way, dealing with real world political problems and coming up with relevant, effective solutions.

A political scientist lacks that background and does not bring such an approach to the analysis of politics. Political science, therefore, can be summed up as the old-fashioned way of looking at politics. Political management, on the other hand, involves a new, modern and more practical approach.

When I confidently say, therefore, that a third party can succeed, I speak from a political management perspective and also draw from considerable hands-on experience that allows me sometimes to see hope where others see despair and possibilities where others see impossibilities.

In the consumerist culture of today, almost anything can be made a success once it is given the correct branding and backed by an effective marketing strategy to reach and persuade target audiences that the product on offer is the right solution to their needs. In political marketing, a party is a brand-name product developed to offer solutions to unmet needs identified through research.

Polls conducted over the past several years, mostly by Peter Wickham’s CADRES and, of late, Joe Davis’ Systematic Research, have consistently shown a high level of voter disenchantment with both DLP and BLP. The reason for this trend and the clamour for a new party are quite obvious: both parties are seen by disaffected voters as no longer satisfying their needs and aspirations which relate to the universal human quest for continuous improvement in the quality of life. In a new party, therefore, they see the hope of better opportunities.

The assessment by my political science friends that any fresh attempt at a “third party” is doomed to fail, also rests on a flawed assumption that both DLP and BLP still, to a large extent, enjoy an impregnable degree of voter loyalty. This assumption ignores fundamental changes on the political landscape in the last 25 or so years, resulting from the rise and influence of consumerist culture on contemporary Barbadian thinking.

Whereas our parents and grandparents may have consistently voted Bee or Dee and, in many instances, passed on this loyalty to their offspring, children today are not taking cues from parents in terms of political choices. They are, generally speaking, uncommitted to either party and are more inclined to vote for who, in their judgement, offers solutions that best satisfy their needs and aspirations.

They are what we call in political management the new “political consumers”. Many mature adults too can be so defined.

Sun Tzu, the ancient father of strategy, advises that when going into battle, which is at the heart of politics, it is important, first of all, to survey and understand the “terrain” or layout of the battlefield. Political battles, especially at an electoral level, are waged on the battlefield of the public mind.

When I survey and assess the terrain, I see many favourable conditions that represent opportunities which a new party can convert to its advantage. Naturally, a new party will not reap immediate electoral success to form a Government but, through strategic targeting and selection of constituencies where favourable conditions are most pronounced, it should be in with a good chance of winning at least a few seats at its first outing.

This way, it can emerge in the enviable position of powerbroker where the two mainstream parties find themselves with no choice but to seek its cooperation to advance their agenda. This way, a new party would be able to exercise considerable influence on the development of public policy because its support can make or break either party, especially in Government.

Only Grenville Phillips II so far has publicly come out with Solutions Barbados as a new political alternative; but, in my estimation, it is unlikely to have much of an impact. To begin with, it is obvious that Phillips does not understand the intricacies of politics. Politics is not a Sunday School or beach picnic. It is war, as stated earlier. On the current path, he and any followers are like innocent lambs going to the slaughter.

Solutions Barbados’ first major mistake –– which I brought to Phillips’ attention –– was the adoption of a wrong political narrative. Prospective candidates were basically told on the group’s website to expect to lose. Any party which debuts with the mindset of a loser is wasting its time.

The second major flaw relates to Phillips’ plan to run only candidates with a business background.

If the aim of Solutions Barbados is to corporatize Government, it has got it dead wrong. Government was never meant to function as a business, even though it can benefit from incorporating some business practices to achieve efficiency. Government, in the final analysis, is about equitably serving the broad masses of people, promoting social justice, being a catalyst for development where necessary, ensuring public safety and security and creating an “enabling environment” for private sector-led growth through implementation of an appropriate policy framework.

I will wrap up this discussion next week. Meanwhile, your feedback is most welcome.

(Reudon Eversley is a political strategist, strategic communication specialist and long-standing journalist.
Email reudon@gmx.com)

35 Responses to Exploring the ‘third party’ idea

  1. Arthur Collymore
    Arthur Collymore March 11, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    An interesting political narrative. While i agree with the gist of your argument, i hold to a somewhat different opinion. We see in the USA an interesting political development in the person of Donald Trump. Not unlike the USA, Barbados has a growing number of discontented voters who clamor for change & are prepared to throw their support behind someone who says what they want to hear or promise to do what they want done. Outside of the two traditional parties there is no central political figure that captures the imagination of the electorate, no even an independent Arthur who lost three successive elections while at the helm of the oldest political party in the country. A third party will fail in as much as there is no leader presently who is able to galvanize public support like Donald Trump has done. Were he to be rejected by the Republican party his popularity & immense wealth would both fail in any attempt to establish a successful third party. A noble objective but Barbados is not yet ready for a third party despite the growing disenchantment among voters. Another perspective.

    Reply
  2. Lilian Lloyd
    Lilian Lloyd March 11, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    It is Quite Obvious You Would
    Want A third Party Because
    None Of The Exsisting Do Not
    Want To Hear Your Nonesense Advice
    A Third Will Also Reject You

    Reply
  3. Mark Fenty
    Mark Fenty March 11, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Because Barbados does not have a charismatic personality like a Donald Trump, that does not mean that one cannot arise from no way and capture the imagination of the Barbadian electorate. Who knew anything of President Obama before he aroused the collective conscience of the American electorate? So the possibility of a third party with charismatic leader we must not dismiss.

    Reply
    • Arthur Collymore
      Arthur Collymore March 11, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      Emerge at some time in the future, yes, at this time, no. My argument exactly.

      Reply
    • Mark Fenty
      Mark Fenty March 11, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      So you’re saying that there isn’t anyone in Barbados who is capable of arousing the collective conscience of the masses at this time, and why? What is your reasoning either than there isn’t a Donald Trump type personality in Barbados today?

      Reply
    • Arthur Collymore
      Arthur Collymore March 11, 2016 at 1:14 pm

      Name him/her

      Reply
    • Juanita Blanco
      Juanita Blanco March 11, 2016 at 1:25 pm

      No time is better than now for a 3rd option to capture the interest of Barbadians, since many are disgruntled. For any 3rd option to do so, they must come with refreshed ideas and actions to move us from the slump we are in, married with a clear direction for stamping out greed perpetrated by politicians, transparency in operations and proper, ongoing communication between them and the electorate (which continues past elections).

      Reply
    • Mark Fenty
      Mark Fenty March 11, 2016 at 1:29 pm

      I don’t have to provide you a name to prove that the possibility does exist. As I’ve said to you earlier, the election of President Obama ought to have taught you that the probability does exist.

      Reply
    • Mark Fenty
      Mark Fenty March 11, 2016 at 1:35 pm

      The problem with your argument is the fact that you’re adhere to and absolute, and the only real absolute in this life is death. And with that kind of an argument there isn’t much room for the statistical anomaly.

      Reply
  4. Mark Fenty
    Mark Fenty March 11, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    The article also pointed to the fact that a Third Party in Barbados would fail because history stands in opposition to its realization. But if such was the case, we wouldn’t have had the first Black president ruling over these United States because history told us that it wouldn’t have happened. At least in our lifetime.

    Reply
    • Juanita Blanco
      Juanita Blanco March 11, 2016 at 1:26 pm

      Not quite, he said that is what pundits said and what they believe.

      Reply
    • Mark Fenty
      Mark Fenty March 11, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      okay … fair enough!

      Reply
  5. Juanita Blanco
    Juanita Blanco March 11, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    The best way to get ppl to doubt something will be successful is to continuously tell them that it will be unsuccessful. These political pundits will keep spewing that a 3rd party won’t work because they want the public to buy into that, thereby influencing their actions. Once a 3rd party comes with a clear, workable plan that is sound and appeals to what ppl want, it can gain traction, ultimately leading to it winning.

    Reply
    • Mark Fenty
      Mark Fenty March 11, 2016 at 1:41 pm

      Juanita Blanco, those are the kind of people who aren’t the critical thinkers. And take what is spew, peddle and fed to them at face-value, without taking the time to research the facts.

      Reply
    • Mark Fenty
      Mark Fenty March 11, 2016 at 1:47 pm

      Juanita Blanco, critical thinkers always challenge the status quo and bring a new paradigm and orthodoxy to bear upon the conventional way of viewing a given issue.

      Reply
    • Juanita Blanco
      Juanita Blanco March 11, 2016 at 2:13 pm

      True and piss ppl off at the same time lol

      Reply
  6. Arturo Edward March 11, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Why does it have to be Party at all ..? The new group can present itself as a “registered going concem” … preferable a charity. with publicly audited statements of affairs, and with a Tax Identifying Number. That should be enough to capture the imagination of a large minority of Barbadians.

    Reply
  7. Arturo Edward
    Arturo Edward March 11, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    Why does it have to be Party at all ..? The new group can present itself as a “registered going concern” … preferably a Charity. with publicly audited statements of affairs, and a Tax Identification Number. That should be enough to capture the imagination of a large minority of Barbadians.

    Reply
    • Juanita Blanco
      Juanita Blanco March 11, 2016 at 2:36 pm

      Still a party aka group of persons.

      Reply
    • Arturo Edward
      Arturo Edward March 11, 2016 at 2:37 pm

      No it is not. It has to distance itself from that business model and make sure that the public understands that there is a difference

      Reply
    • Juanita Blanco
      Juanita Blanco March 11, 2016 at 2:40 pm

      I am sure that the term party can speak to a group of persons. How that group defines or distinguishes itself from the old guard is another thing, but I agree that it cannot be the same old business as usual.

      Reply
    • Arturo Edward
      Arturo Edward March 11, 2016 at 2:41 pm

      Correct. They simply must let the media and other trouble makers know that they are NOT a Party

      Reply
    • Juanita Blanco
      Juanita Blanco March 11, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      I dont think that the emphasis should be on distancing themselves from the term party. I think it should be on distancing themselves from the old models of operating and creating new models that addresses corruption and so on.

      Reply
    • Arturo Edward
      Arturo Edward March 11, 2016 at 2:52 pm

      No they have to be representative of a true paradigm shift

      Reply
    • Juanita Blanco
      Juanita Blanco March 11, 2016 at 2:57 pm

      So wouldn’t anti-corruption legislation and the like, represent such a shift?

      Reply
    • Arturo Edward
      Arturo Edward March 11, 2016 at 3:05 pm

      Not in the context of political parties. Trinidad has had all of this in place. Trinidad even put a former PM in court for not properly declaring his assets and it came to nothing.

      Reply
    • Juanita Blanco
      Juanita Blanco March 11, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      Is this the same former PM who today got handed a 3 year sentence?

      Reply
  8. Joel C. Payne
    Joel C. Payne March 11, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    The electoral system that Barbados and USA have does not inherrantly support third parties. Look at the Tea Party movement in America. NOT A PEEP from them two elections later.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7tWHJfhiyo

    Reply
  9. alex alleyne March 11, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    EVERYTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE UNTIL IT IS DONE.

    Reply
  10. Michael Warner
    Michael Warner March 11, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    Right wing Left wing that is how Polictics run. The Eagle has 2 wings not 3.

    Reply
    • Mark Cambridge
      Mark Cambridge March 11, 2016 at 7:55 pm

      Because an eagle may have two wings does not necessarily mean the odd with a third wing don’t or can’t exist anything is possible into days world so politics is no exception with a third party Michael.

      Reply
    • Michael Warner
      Michael Warner March 11, 2016 at 8:03 pm

      well let’s wait and see

      Reply
    • Mark Cambridge
      Mark Cambridge March 11, 2016 at 9:53 pm

      Let’s wait and see what if a third party can make it, anything is posible Michael who to say it would or would not only GOD and de people who wants it, given the tough economic times the sland is going through right now and a third party had to come up with a real serious alternative for this island and its people economic wise just to ease the sufferings of people I am certain their would make a serious dent in gaining some head way, both party faithfuls are suffering and making it hard to get ends meet and people just fed up with the way politicians are treating them, here you have a 24 year old mother with 3 kids have no where to live, seeking help by way of her representative who is the PM and was told he can’t help her and further to that spoke with the BLP Mia, sorry but I can’t help you fine other means of getting help goodness grief a mother with 3 children and no where to live and you as PM in de state house and inviting all kinds of people from all over de world making them happy feeding with the best cocktail and can’t think for one moment to look after you own fellow Barbadian gimme a break you think she would ever vote for he or Mia who is a down right multimillionaire Lord help us all.

      Reply
  11. Ann Gittens
    Ann Gittens March 11, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    A lot of people forget that the DLP was a third party. It doesn’t matter whether it is a third or fourth party but its purpose. If the party’s mission attracts the masses it will be successful.

    Reply
  12. Sunshine Sunny Shine March 12, 2016 at 3:17 am

    You have aptly addressed some of the flaws in Mr. Grenville’s policies for a new party, the main one being business persons for politics. What he does not understand is that his notion of business persons making for better managers of a fragile economy may arouse suspicions and discontentment that could be insulting to those bajans who might feel that a large part of the problem is not the management but finding persons who are honest enough to manage without vested interests and personal agendas. The ability to manage is not a standalone when it is known fact that business transactions do not always go down the road of honesty when a buck is trying to be made. Mr. Granville the 3rd would do well to reach out to Barbadians from all walks of life who have the intellectual capacity and wherewhital to produce and serve rather than the ability to manage more than 10 employees as a viable criteria synomous with good finanacial and people management.

    Reply

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