Now for the hard part

  • The One Bermuda Alliance Celebration Party: Shawn Crockwell and Mark Pettingill. (Photo by Akil Simmons) December 17,2012

    The One Bermuda Alliance Celebration Party: Shawn Crockwell and Mark Pettingill. (Photo by Akil Simmons) December 17,2012

Less than 18 months after it was formed, the One Bermuda Alliance is now the Government.

The movement from new party, bringing together members of the United Bermuda Party, the Bermuda Democratic Alliance, former Progressive Labour Party supporters and people with no previous political involvement at all, has not been easy, and at times it has made mistakes.

In the end, the OBA is a beneficiary of the dismal state of the economy, although its members may soon wonder what they have gotten themselves into as they delve into the Government’s books.

To a very great extent, the public have taken a leap of faith with the OBA. While it numbers a few members who have been in government, most are untried, although they bring a blend of youth and experience which managed well, could be a boon.

One of their least experienced members is also Bermuda’s new Premier. Craig Cannonier must prove he has the ability to pull together a team and lead them and Bermuda to an economic recovery. He must also navigate the House of Assembly with a very small majority. For now the OBA is united. He must ensure it stays that way.

Mr Cannonier has shown he can campaign and that he is an inspiring speaker who has a natural understanding of most Bermudians’ desires. But, as was said of another inspiring speaker but relatively inexperienced politician, you campaign in poetry but govern in prose. Mr Cannonier now has to prove he can govern as well as campaign — and they are two different things.

He will have to avoid losing his cool, as he did over the secret report. There will be more trying episodes than that in the future, and a calm head will be needed.

For now, the new Government’s job is to reach out to all of Bermuda and to bring it together after a divisive campaign.

The OBA won because of the economy, and the voters sent a clear message that it needs to be fixed. So the new Government needs to move quickly to institute the economic measures that it has promised, and to suspend term limits. It also needs to meet with the Island’s trade unions to ensure that Bermuda has the industrial peace it needs to ensure that all people benefit.

As a symbolic measure, it needs to follow through on its promise to cut Cabinet Ministers’ salaries by ten percent. This will symbolise that all Bermudians are sharing the pain.

Bermuda may see a quick bounce in confidence from the business community as a result of the election, but it will not last long without action.

As for the PLP, defeat has come because it failed to recognise the severity of the recession and consistently failed to take the needed measures in time. The shock defeat of Premier Paula Cox will drive home this defeat. The PLP will need to do some soul searching, but may come out of this stronger.

The fact that Bermuda has seen a party leave power after 14 years is no bad thing. The UBP had overstayed their welcome by 1998 and parties that stay in power for the sake of being in power are of little use to the Island. This is a sign of political maturity for Bermuda.

The PLP will almost certainly return to power one day, provided it learns the lessons of this election.

In the meantime, the hope of this newspaper is that this election will open a new chapter in Bermuda politics, which will be less divisive, less reliant on race as a motivating force, more open to problems all Bermudians face and more constructive.

The next few years will not be easy, but they can lead to a better Bermuda, provided all people are willing to work together for the betterment of all.

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Published Dec 18, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 18, 2012 at 3:28 am)

Now for the hard part

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