Barbados Labour Party
LeaderMia Mottley MP
FounderSir Grantley Adams
Founded31 March 1938 (As the Barbados Progressive League)
HeadquartersGrantley Adams House,
111 Roebuck Street,
Youth wingLeague of Young Socialists
IdeologySocial democracy
Political positionCentre-left
Colours   Red and Gold
House of Assembly
29 / 30
12 / 21

The Barbados Labour Party (BLP), colloquially known as the "Bees", is a social democratic political party in Barbados established in 1938. It has been in power in 1954–1961, 1976–1986, 1994–2008, and 2018–present. Its leaders have included Grantley Adams and Owen Arthur.

Now led by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, it is the governing party of Barbados, holding 29 out of 30 seats.

In common with Barbados' other major party, the Democratic Labour Party or the "Dems", the BLP has been broadly described as a 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, respectively. 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. 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.

After a decade in opposition, the BLP returned to power on 25 May 2018 under Mia Mottley, who became Barbados's first female prime minister.[7] The party originally won all of the seats in the House of Assembly, but Bishop Joseph Atherley, the MP for St. Michael West, became an independent MP (later founder and leader of the People's Party for Democracy and Development[8]) and the leader of the opposition on 2 June 2018.[9]

In January 2022, Prime Minister Mia Mottley's Labor Party (BLP) obtained a landslide victory, winning all 30 legislative seats, in the first general election since Barbados became a republic in 2021.[10]

Electoral history

House of Assembly elections

Election Party leader Votes % Seats +/– Position Result
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 Hugh Gordon Cummins 40,096 36.8%
4 / 24
Decrease 11 Decrease 2nd Opposition
1966 Grantley Herbert Adams 47,610 32.6%
8 / 24
Increase 4 Steady 2nd Opposition
1971 Harold Bernard St. John 39,376 42.4%
6 / 24
Decrease 2 Steady 2nd Opposition
1976 Tom Adams 51,948 52.7%
17 / 24
Increase 11 Increase 1st Supermajority 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 112,955 73.5%
30 / 30
Increase 16 Increase 1st Supermajority government
2022 78,720 69.03%
30 / 30
Steady Steady 1st Supermajority government
Graphs are unavailable due to technical issues. There is more info on Phabricator and on

West Indies election

See also: West Indies Federal Labour Party, 1958 West Indies federal elections, West Indies Federation, and Federal Parliament of the West Indies Federation

Election Party Group Leader Votes Seats Position Government
No. Share No. Share
1958[11] 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.


  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. ^ "Barbados General Election Results 2018". Archived from the original on 12 September 2019. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  8. ^ "Atherley defends move to start new party". The Barbados Advocate. 7 September 2020.
  9. ^ "Bishop Atherley now Leader of the Opposition". The Barbados Advocate. 2 June 2018.
  10. ^ "Barbados PM hails governing party's landslide election victory".
  11. ^ "Kingston Gleaner Newspaper Archives, Mar 27, 1958, p. 20". 27 March 1958. Retrieved 25 June 2020.

Further reading