With the reignition of this blog I thought it would be important to clarify my political relationship with the Progressive Labour Party.
In the past I was associated with the PLP.
I joined the Party in 1998, shortly after turning 18 and voting for the PLP in my first election, where the PLP formed the Government for the first time. At the time I was still studying in Canada, and so my involvement was minimal, pretty much restricted to summers and winter breaks from university. I attended a handful of branch meetings at Bailey’s Bay Cricket Club, as well as some Central Committee meetings. At this time the constituencies (and thus branches) were along the old system, and the branch meetings were large, up to fifty people attending. Despite asking around I was unable to contact anyone involved in the Party’s youth wing; in fact I don’t think it existed at that time (it has a history of periodic existence).
At some point my membership expired and I didn’t renew it. This was a combination of dismay with the Smith led Government for really not doing all that much in terms of expectations along social justice lines and my being overseas. When I returned in 2003 I was busy with securing employment and the Regiment. My energies were at that time focused on the War on Terror and combatting forced Christianisation within the Regiment. I’m not sure when I rejoined the Party. I think it was in 2005. I know that in the 2003 election I still had enough Party contacts to have foreknowledge of the palace coup plot. Although I opposed the leadership of Premier Smith, I disagreed with the method of ousting her, arguing that acting unconstitutionally would set precedents, that the means determine the ends. My opposition to the palace coup plot and the failure of the Smith-led PLP to act on social justice issues led to my spoiling my ballot in that election.
It was under Alex Scott’s Premiership that I became active within the Party again. I’m not sure of the exact sequence of events, but I started attending Central Committee meetings again, and over time I was introduced to the then incarnation of the Youth Wing. I attended a number of Delegates Conventions, as a delegate in the crucial 2007 one where Dr. Brown became leader. I opposed his leadership on the basis that he hadn’t really put forward a vision for what he would do other than he would do it ‘quicker’ and ‘take us to the next level’. While I felt Mr. Scott was at times a weak leader in not taking much leadership and being overly reliant on consensus decision-making (which is okay, but he generally failed to facilitate the decision-making aspect), I was hopeful that the Sustainable Development Initiative and the redevelopment of Northeast Hamilton/Pembroke Dump would be better advanced under him than under Dr. Brown.
At some point I became the General Secretary of the Youth Wing, was elected by them to the Central Committee (where we could then vote and put forward resolutions), and also helped reboot the PLP branch in Smith’s (where I lived at the time). This would have been roughly June 2007 to June 2008. This period was marked by friction between the Youth Wing and the Executive. Despite the elevation of the Youth Wing’s leader to the Senate (after which we adopted a co-leader organisation), the Youth Wing itself was generally under attack within the Party. We insisted on our autonomy as per the PLP Constitution; the Executive wanted us as essentially their cheerleaders and automatons. We agreed to their (Executive) demands, namely to develop a Youth Wing Constitution and membership policies (an age cap at 25), with most of us thus being only temporary members charged with positioning the Youth Wing for the future (most of us were 25 and over). The Executive however appeared to withhold monies and mentorship and there was a perception that they were developing a rival group to us, where our resources were being diverted to. Nonetheless the Constitution was completed but we were then informed we couldn’t adopt it and we were acting unconstitutionally.
At the end of the day, partly out of frustration with internal PLP politics and the direction of the PLP under Dr. Brown, I retired my office and decided to pursue further studies. I admit that one aspect of this was the hope of returning to serve as a Cabinet Minister at some point in the future. You know, go away, get some experience and skill-sets and then come back and contribute. Even as I was increasingly at odds (and had been even in 1998) with the ideological positions of the Party, I had clung to the idea of working from within to defend what was left of socialist thought within the Party and to advance socialist ideas within. This was a hangover I think from my association in Canada with the Trotskyist-based NDP Socialist Caucus and the UK Militant group.
My membership in the PLP expired in 2009, roughly (and coincidentally) around the time of the Uigher incident. I saw no point in rejoining. I was overseas, in Scotland, pursuing further education and experience. Had I been on island I may have considered it more closely. But being overseas, generally opposed to the Party’s direction under Dr. Brown, and increasingly disillussioned with the idea of ‘working from within’ at the sacrifice of my own ideology, it was easy to simply not extend my membership.
I’ve been on island now since June, 2011. Although I’ve been approached by the PLP to rejoin and to take a much more public and active membership, and while giving this some serious consideration (I almost put forward my name as a candidate), I have chosen not to do so. This was partly due to not wanting to be a parachute candidate (I would rather build up more support within a branch), and partly due to my not having received satisfactory answers as to the general platform and direction of the Party under Ms. Cox and the next election.
I continue to have many good friends and connections within the PLP, and I am generally in support of them, in as much as I don’t see the OBA as a ‘home’ for me ideologically. The PLP at least has the ideological basis whereupon one could address the structural inequalities that exist as a leftover from slavery/segregation. I am not convinced the OBA has such a foundational basis. Nonetheless, my ‘support’ for the PLP today is extremely tenuous, and I would sooner run as an Independent or form a new Party than vote for either PLP or OBA in the next election.
And so, at present, this blog is not aligned with any political faction. It is an essentially independent and neutral (in the OBA/PLP sense), albeit socialist blog. I will do my best to challenge both the OBA and PLP policies for the time being.
I cannot rule out future association with the PLP.
It will depend on their direction at the time, and whether I feel confident that I can actually make more of a difference within them than as an independent. Alot will depend on how they develop over the next twelve months and the result of the election. As much as I question the ideological basis of the OBA, at this moment in time I would rather work within an Opposition PLP to rebuild the Party than to work within a PLP as Government. I’m not sure how members will take that. Right now the PLP seems to have lost its way and connection with the working class, the grassroots, and to be overly bloated with opportunists who are only interested in power and not principle. I hope that losing the election, or having a significantly reduced majority would be for the best for the Party, and by extension the country. In the mean time I will seek to develop my critique of both OBA and PLP, as well as my own positions.
At the moment I am not convinced that a focus on formal political power is the best route to realising my own political beliefs. I am focused instead more on informal political power, that is, building critical consciousness, an awareness of the colonial power structure we continue today, and developing an alternate vision of politics and people power.