Commissiong: Grant Gibbons being ‘obscure’ on racial bloc voting

  • Rolfe Commissiong

    Rolfe Commissiong

Former consultant to the Premier Rolfe Commissiong has criticised One Bermuda Alliance MP Grant Gibbons for being “obscure” about the issue of racial bloc voting.

Mr Commission who spearheaded Ewart Brown’s Bermuda Race Relations Initiative, was responding to Dr Gibbons’ views on the issue reported in yesterday’s paper.

“If we cannot be honest about this issue I don’t see how we can have a meaningful conversation about the issue of racial polarisation in Bermuda politics,” said Mr Commissiong.

“Grant Gibbons is a fairly astute business man and even he will have to concede that with the white Bermuda vote representing 27 28 percent of the overall vote, there is no way the UBP could have gotten 46 48 percent of the vote over the last 13 years, unless every white person votes for the UBP. It’s mathematically impossible.”

Dr Gibbons had acknowledged race as a factor in politics but said that it was not always the case that the white community would always vote for one party, and there had been a shift away from the United Bermuda Party in the 1998 elections.

And Dr Gibbons echoed a sentiment shared by his party leader Craig Cannonier, saying that the PLP had not made whites feel welcome.

“I believe he really does understand that the UBP are now the OBA. They’ll be working on the same formula put forward by Jack Tucker and his colleagues which is to keep the white vote on the reservation a saying attributed to Mike Winfield while going after the black vote,” said Mr Commissiong.

In 2008, Mr Winfield, a former UBP campaign manager, gave a speech at a wrap up meeting of the Bermuda Race Relations Initiative in which he acknowledged the “racecard” in politics.

“For years, our political divide has been made greater by the ‘racecard’. For years, the United Bermuda Party survived, time and time again because whites would not vote PLP and yet blacks would vote UBP,” he said.

“As campaign chairman to the UBP for many years, I had a pretty good idea of the racial break in voting patterns and while efforts were always made to keep the white vote on the political reservation, the main focus was always towards the middle of the road, black voter.”

“It’s always been a strategy of having the white vote as a monolithic bloc while dividing the black vote to their advantage,” Mr Commissiong continued.

“As a strategy the OBA has painted itself into a corner where it has to pull off the same trick.”

Referring to the One Bermuda Alliance’s Reply to the Throne Speech which acknowledges “that white supremacy exists”, Mr Commissiong said: “Is Dr Gibbons, and by extension Mr Cannonier, now saying that racism as a motivating factor of white behaviour can be found in every other aspect of society except in the political domain? Is that what they are saying?

“It’s clear he does not want to acknowledge what I have been saying over the years that the onus for resolving this racial polarisation lies with the white community when all evidence supports that view.”

The latest political opinion poll, conducted by MindMaps for The Royal Gazette revealed that 88 percent of white voters would vote for the One Bermuda Alliance in the General Elections, suggesting that the OBA has inherited the white vote.

The same survey found that just 52 percent of black voters would vote for the PLP, with 15 percent opting for the OBA and 30 percent saying they don’t know or refused to state their preference.

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Published Jan 5, 2012 at 6:28 am (Updated Jan 5, 2012 at 6:25 am)

Commissiong: Grant Gibbons being ‘obscure’ on racial bloc voting

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