PLP MP ties end of racial strife to Independence
Veteran Government backbencher Walter Lister has suggested a Bermudian should do Governor Sir Richard Gozney’s job and would probably come “at a better price”.
He spoke out in the House of Assembly after fellow Progressive Labour Party MP Marc Bean claimed the Island would stay trapped in racial politics until it escapes from UK rule.
Mr Bean said during Friday’s motion to adjourn debate that Bermuda could learn from the Bahamas, where the political scene is no longer dominated by a battle between blacks and whites.
He said: “The reason why there’s no race outside demographics is Bahamas is a constitutional monarchy.
“As long as we have colonial or Overseas Territorial status, we will always have racial issues. Racism and colonialism are synonymous with each other.”
Mr Bean explained the colonial system was imposed on blacks by whites. He said black Bermudians had been economically marginalised and still felt a sense of victimhood.
He called on everyone to go to London for a constitutional conference.
Mr Lister said he was “extremely heartened” to hear debate on independence in the House after many years without such a discussion.
The PLP politician said it was hard to believe Bermuda remained a colony and it became more painful with each passing year.
“We are an intelligent people,” he said, adding that those who wished to remain part of the UK needed to answer the question: “What does Britain do for you?”
“I can tell you what they have done lately for us, because I know. Nothing.”
He said the UK refused to help when Anguilla, another British Overseas Territory, needed a new fire engine, yet stumped up millions of pounds to help bail out financially-struggling Portugal.
“They are more committed to the European common market that they are to their colonies. I can’t see what people want from Britain.”
He said Bermuda ended up helping out Anguilla, adding that when one’s mother starts “kicking you about” she’s trying to send you a message.
He was critical of the newly formed One Bermuda Alliance, asking what its policy on independence was. “Are they still taking their policies from the UBP, that they want a referendum?”
Mr Lister made no mention of any Government plan to progress independence, but said it troubled him that Bermuda had to “ask someone else” to approve its laws.
“We stay here until 12 o’clock at night fighting and arguing over bills, but if a foreigner doesn’t sign the bills nothing happens, when a Bermudian could do the same thing, probably at a better price.”
Sir Richard earns $231,800 a year, paid for by Bermuda’s taxpayers.
He is off Island and could not be reached for comment. Deputy Governor David Arkley said last night: “I do not think it would be appropriate for me to comment on debates in the House of Assembly or the Senate.”
Henry Bellingham, the UK Minister responsible for the British Overseas Territories, said last month independence was a matter purely for Bermuda’s people.
“Bermuda is the jewel in the crown and we’re very proud to keep it in the UK family, if that’s what the people of Bermuda want. It’s about self-determination.
“We’re not going to do anything to encourage them to go independent, but on the other hand, they know their future is in their hands.”