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Democratic Labour Party (DLP)

The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) was one of the two Federal parties in the short-lived West Indies Federation. The party was organised by Sir Alexander Bustamante to counter the West Indies Federal Labour Party led by his cousin Norman Manley.

It was founded in May 1957 and was originally composed of parties from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia a number of individuals (since unlike the WIFLP, the DLP admitted both parties and individuals). Bustamante was unanimously elected as leader of the party, while Ashford Sinanan (Trinidad), Victor Bryan (Trinidad) and Ebenezer Joshua (St. Vincent) were chosen as first, second and third deputy leaders, respectively. Other members of the executive included Donald Sangster, Mrs. Rose Leon, Morris Cargill (all from Jamaica) and Bhadase Maraj (Trinidad).

The party was a confederation of local parties from each of the constituent territories. Generally speaking its constituent parties were the more rural based parties. Individuals (whether or not affiliated with a specific party) could be admitted. This led to the situation wherein Bhadase Maraj as leader of the People's Democratic Party of Trinidad was admitted as a member, but the party apparently was not. Other individuals admitted included Ashford Sinanan (also of the People's Democratic Party of Trinidad), Albert Gomes and Roy Josephs.

Parties affiliated with the DLP included (incomplete)

  • Democratic Labour Party (Barbados)
  • Democratic Labour Party (Trinidad and Tobago)
  • Jamaica Labour Party
  • Party of Political Progress Groups (Trinidad and Tobago)
  • People's Political Party (St Vincent)
  • Tobago Labour Party (Trinidad and Tobago)

The DLP's election platform emphasized West Indian unity, freedom of worship and speech, encouragement of trade unions, a climate favourable to both private industry and labour, development of human and economic resources, and expansion of tourism. It pledged to work for the entry of British Guiana and British Honduras into the Federation, promised to press for loans and technical assistance to raise standards of living and avoid high taxation and urged a strengthening of existing ties with the United Kingdom, United States and Canada and fostering "very strong and profitable relationships" with neighbouring countries.

In the Federal Elections of 1958 the WIFLP won the majority of the votes in the Federal Parliament. Since neither Manley nor Bustamante had contested the Federal elections, Sir Grantley Adams became the Federal Prime Minister, while Ashford Sinanan was the (DLP) Leader of the Opposition.

Under criticism for his anti-Federalism, Bustamante resigned from the DLP. He then held a referendum in Jamaica which favoured withdrawal from the Federation. This left Trinidad and Tobago with a disproportionate burden of the Federal budget, leading Eric Williams to lead them out of the Federation. This action led the British to dissolve the Federation.

Leader Alexander BUSTAMANTE
Parliamentary Leader Ashford SINANAN
Founded May 1957
Party Colour Blue
Ideology Liberalism, Economic Liberalism, Trade Unionism, Centralisation
House of Representatives seats - 1958 19/44
Status Defunct
Political Parties in the W.I. Federation
West Indies Federation
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