Can The Labour Party Reboot with the ethos and ideals of its heyday?

The promise of a policy framework to promote equal opportunities and a far better socio-economic and political order in the country, made to the people remains largely unfulfilled to this day

By Mrinal Roy

The Labour Party has a special place in the psyche of people in the country. It is associated with the seminal actions of the stalwarts who as from 1937 mobilised the people and the downtrodden workers of the sugar industry to fight for their fundamental rights and the independence of the country from colonial rule to establish a far better socio-economic and political order in the country.

They challenged and fought against the combined might of the colonial establishment and the sugar oligarchy through various potent actions. This included mobilizing and canvassing the people’s support in villages, towns and sugar camps (despite trespassing diktats) across the country. They also helped organize trade union actions and strikes to fight for sugar industry workers’ rights and obtained better conditions of work, debated and argued the case for an equitable and more inclusive Mauritius and the cause of freedom in articles countering the effete arguments of the reactionary forces in the country in the press and newspapers launched for this purpose. Such forward looking and ground-breaking actions are unique and unmatched in the political history of the country.

After the first general elections in 1948 won by the Labour Party (LP), this debate was carried by the elected Labour MPs in the Legislative Council. These actions were grounded on lofty ideals, an ethos, principles and a commitment of altruistic service to the people denied their basic rights as well as the vision of a Mauritius committed to promote shared prosperity and improved quality of life for all. It built a special and an enduring bond and goodwill between the people and the Labour Party. There is a lasting connect between the multitude who joined this momentous battle for freedom from colonial rule and all those who were the prime architects of this game-changing mass political movement for a better order for the benefit of all.


Despite these unique credentials, Labour Party’s popularity waned after independence as the lofty principles and ethos which underpinned its political action were sacrificed on the altar of political expediency and momentous compromise instead of competently addressing the existential concerns and legitimate aspirations of the people in a newly independent country.

In a context of economic difficulties and turmoil, the Labour Party formed a coalition government with the opposition party, the PMSD (which had robustly opposed independence) in 1969, barely a year after independence in 1968, in a bid to combine their efforts to redress a beleaguered economy and manage the affairs of the State. General elections scheduled in 1972 were arbitrarily postponed to 1976. This was a far cry from the values, ethos and the promise of a policy framework to promote equal opportunities and a far better socio-economic and political order in the country, made to the people. In many respects, this promise remains largely unfulfilled to this day. The scathing backlash of the people against the Labour Party was evidenced in the outcome of the 1976 general elections and the 60-0 debacle of the 1982 general elections.

A survey of the chequered political history of the country shows that there have been quite a few instances when the people demonstrating their patent dissatisfaction with the incumbent government collectively voted to oust them or robustly oppose and cause the defeat of political alliances proposing policies or vested changes to the political system which are contrary to the ethos and ideals, the independence of the country was fought on. On each of these occasions, the people collectively voted, sometimes against difficult odds, with single-minded resolve to sanction the incumbent government and choose an alternative government. Read More… Become a Subscriber

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 7 October 2022

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