Barbados Labour Party

Mia Mottley Democratic Labour Party (Barbados) Barbados

Barbados Labour Party
LeaderMia Mottley MP
FounderSir Grantley Adams
Founded31 March 1938
HeadquartersGrantley Adams House,
111 Roebuck Street,
Bridgetown, Barbados
Youth wingLeague of Young Socialists
IdeologySocial democracy
Political positionCentre-left
ColoursRed and Gold
House of Assembly
29 / 30
12 / 21

The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is the main party of government of Barbados which was established in 1938. Led by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, the BLP holds 29 of the 30 seats in the House of Assembly of Barbados after MP for St. Michael West, Joseph Artherly decided to become an Independent MP and became the Leader of the Opposition. It was elected to government on 25 May 2018 after 10 years in opposition, with Mottley becoming the country's first female Prime Minister.

In common with Barbados' other major party, the Democratic Labour Party or "Dems", the BLP has been broadly described as centre-left social-democratic party, with local politics being largely personality-driven and responsive to contemporary issues and the state of the economy. However, the Party distinguishes itself by being rooted in Asquithian Liberal policies, including a focus on trade as a way of bolstering economic growth over the creation of social services. [1]

The BLP is a former observer member of the Socialist International.[2]


Originally called the Barbados Progressive League until 1944, the party was founded on 31 March 1938 at the home of James Martineau. During the first meeting, Chrissie Brathwaite and Grantley Adams were elected as Chairman and Vice-Chairman. Adams had entered the House of Assembly in 1934 partly through his deconstruction of the labour-focused efforts of the Charles Duncan O’Neal’s Democratic League,[3] but this new party turned to organizing the political movement brought on by the unrest of 1937 that he had earlier opposed. As such, their objectives included many of the League’s original goals, such as adult suffrage, free education, and better housing and health care.[4]

The BLP first participated in general elections in 1940. In 1994 Owen Arthur became the Prime Minister as leader of the Barbados Labour Party.

In the 2003 elections the BLP won 23 out of the 30 seats. The number increased to 24 in 2006, when in an almost unprecedented development the leader of the opposition, after a bitter and tumultuous internal battle within his own party, resigned the post and joined the governing party.

Grantley Adams House, the party's current headquarters, Bridgetown

The Barbados Labour Party governed from 1994 to 2008, which was commonly called the "Owen Arthur Administration". Prime Minister Arthur was chosen from among leaders around the globe to deliver the William Wilberforce lecture on the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Atlantic Slave Trade Act.

The party lost power in the 2008 general election, winning 10 seats against 20 for the Democratic Labour Party (DLP).[5] After the election, Arthur stepped down as BLP leader and was replaced by former Deputy Prime Minister Mia Mottley in a leadership election against Attorney-General of Barbados, Dale Marshall (politician). Mottley also became Opposition Leader.[6]

In the summer of 2008 Hamilton Lashley, MP for St. Michael South East, resigned from the party to become an Independent candidate in the House of Assembly. He was thereafter given a job by the DLP, the party he had belonged before crossing the floor to the BLP, as a consultant on poverty. This move by the member reduced to nine the number of seats the Barbados Labour Party had in the House.

Electoral history

House of Assembly elections

Election Party leader Votes % Seats +/– Position Government
1951 Grantley Herbert Adams 53,321 54.5%
15 / 24
Increase 15 Increase 1st Majority government
1956 48,667 49.3%
15 / 24
Steady Steady 1st Majority government
1961 40,096 36.8%
4 / 24
Decrease 11 Decrease 2nd Opposition
1966 47,610 32.6%
8 / 24
Increase 4 Steady 2nd Opposition
1971 39,376 42.4%
6 / 24
Decrease 2 Steady 2nd Opposition
1976 Tom Adams 51,948 52.7%
17 / 24
Increase 11 Increase 1st Majority government
1981 61,883 52.2%
17 / 27
Steady Steady 1st Majority government
1986 Bernard St. John 54,367 40.4%
3 / 27
Decrease 14 Decrease 2nd Opposition
1991 Henry Forde 51,789 43.0%
10 / 28
Increase 7 Steady 2nd Opposition
1994 Owen Arthur 60,504 48.3%
19 / 28
Increase 9 Increase 1st Majority government
1999 83,445 64.9%
26 / 28
Increase 7 Steady 1st Supermajority government
2003 69,294 55.9%
23 / 30
Decrease 3 Steady 1st Supermajority government
2008 61,316 46.5%
10 / 30
Decrease 13 Decrease 2nd Opposition
2013 74,121 48.2%
14 / 30
Increase 4 Steady 2nd Opposition
2018 Mia Mottley 111,968 74.6%
30 / 30
Increase 16 Increase 1st Supermajority government

West Indies election

Election Party Group Leader Votes Seats Position Government
No. Share No. Share
1958[7] WIFLP Grantley Herbert Adams 72,054 57.8%
4 / 5
80.0% 1st WIFLP

2018 candidates


The women's branch of the Barbados Labour Party is called the Women's League. The youth branch is called the League of Young Socialists.

Social outreach

The BLP uses several forms of Internet mediums to reach out to new and existing supporters. This includes: Google+, Facebook, and Twitter feeds. Many live meetings of the party are streamed live via UStream or YouTube.

A "Labour" political party is an amalgam of various trade unions and socialist groups, generally supporting the interests of organized labour and advocating democratic socialism and social equality, bringing together an alliance of social democratic, democratic socialist and trade unionist outlooks. Considered a left-of-centre political party formed to represent the interests of ordinary working people, in particular arising from the trade union movement at the end of the 19th century to replaced the Liberal, Democrat or Conservative political positions.


  1. ^ Journal of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, Vol. 44 (1998).
  2. ^ "Member Parties of the Socialist International". Archived from the original on 3 May 2013. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  3. ^ Gordon Lewis, The Growth of the Modern West Indies, New York, 1972.
  4. ^ Keith Hunte, Emancipation III: Aspects of the Post-Slavery Experience of Barbados, 1988.
  5. ^ "Thompson sworn in as Barbados PM", Xinhua, 17 January 2008.
  6. ^ Trevor Yearwood, "MIA takes over", Nation News, 20 January 2008. Archived 23 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine Nation News, 24 January 2008.
  7. ^ "Kingston Gleaner Newspaper Archives, Mar 27, 1958, p. 20". NewspaperArchive.com. 27 March 1958. Retrieved 25 June 2020.