Dr. Philbert Aaron: A Fourth Opposition Party—and UWP is Still the Biggest Loser
With the recent formation of Alex Bruno's Dominica Team Unity Party (DTUP), Dr. Philbert Aaron, the former secretary of the ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) is singing a requiem for the opposition United Workers Party (UWP).
"Now that its allies are forming their own political parties, the UWP might as well say its last prayer," Dr. Aaron wrote on LinkedIn last week.
DTUP has become Dominica's firth political party, and Team Unity is Bruno's second creation, having recently left, under extremely acrimonious circumstances, the Alternative People's Party (APP) that he formed a few years ago with former banker Julius Corbett and Tiaira Blanchard.
"Less is more," writes Dr. Aaron. "Because here comes yet another political party. A fifth. Into a two-party political system".
He adds: "The story could be straightforward—there is a FIFTH political party in the country. Or that a second political party is to be led by a former media personality. But no. My extensive research of the country's politics tells me the real story here is that a fourth Opposition political party spells disaster for the Parliamentary Opposition United Workers Party (UWP).
"Twenty-two years after losing its only term in office, UWP operates in an increasingly crowded Opposition marketplace. UWP is the only Opposition Party in the House. Yet, it competes for market space with more and more Opposition parties. Now, UWP competes with the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP), Alternative People's Party (APP), and the soon-to-be-launched Team Unity Dominica (TUD). What in the world is going on in Dominica politics?"
Answering his own question, Dr. Aaron suggests that the UWP is responsible for the competition that it has created for itself
"Individual political leadership and organizational leadership capacity in the UWP is so low that it cannot unite Opposition forces against a common opponent, Government. DFP, APP, and TUDP feel compelled to Oppose the ruling DLP. Yet they find it impossible to play with UWP even to defeat DLP. Why?"
He continues: "It is because UWP and Opposition Leader, Lennox Linton plays poorly with others. Ask Joseph Isaac who bailed out of the UWP in 2018, crossed the floor into the DLP Cabinet, and is now the Speaker of the House.
"Playing poorly with others is in UWP's DNA. For the 1990 general election, the late Dominica Labour Party (DLP) Leader Mike Douglas formed an electoral accommodation with Edison James and UWP to defeat the then DFP government of Eugenia Charles. On Nomination Day, UWP weaseled out of the arrangement.
"UWP launched as a regional party. Built around banana, its base was in the banana belt, especially Marigot. As went banana, so went UWP. Out. UWP once branded itself as a businessman's party. Now, it is simply an Opposition Party. Once led by a Founder, Edison James, it is now the birthright of the Marigot-born. That's the fate of a single-issue party.
"As an organization, single-issue UWP is too narrow a tent to house-wide segments of Dominican society. Once UWP had a pro-business agenda, now its obsession is attacking Skerrit personally.
"But the biggest reasons why, in my view, the UWP cannot find its way, are one, UWP does not have an ideological identity: it's hard to tell what UWP is about. And two, UWP is incapable of pivoting. It's just not agile. Meaning UWP cannot identify an internal problem and make a change to solve it. Even if that problem kills it!"
Many, especially in the UWP, will disagree with DLP stalwart Dr. Aaron, who's now resident in the United States of America and who would obviously love nothing more than to see the back of the UWP. It's the fly or mosquito that buzzes in his ear.
But those who disagree with Dr. Aaron's views must remember this famous quote attributed to Voltaire: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."