Ambushed or just ousted?
Kudos to the media
We say 'Hats Off!' for a first class, on-time coverage of the success of the One Bermuda Alliance in ousting the Bermuda Progressive Party after a 14 year reign as the ruling party.
Both the print and electronic media were super. All things considered they 'rose to the occasion,' with fantastic headlines, dramatic, colourful photos, great action shots; live radio reporting; and the new-boy on the block, Bernews, frequently scooping its competition with colourful video.
The Royal Gazette was superior with its 16-page broadsheet Election Special proclaiming for posterity, A NEW DAY, over the bylines of Jonathan Kent, Rebecca Zuill and Ayo Johnson and fantastic photos by Akil Simmons and David Skinner. That was just for the front page alone. In addition The Gazette was way out front with its RG online electronic news, filling the gap when Governments website was crashed by a totally unexpected two million hits.
The Bermuda Sun with its 12-page Election Special tabloid screamed BDA All The WAY. What it lacked in colour, it more than made up for with brilliant, spot on sub-heads over the byline of Simon Jones and Makelia Pearman, such as Glen Smith Unseats Premier, King Kenny Takes Old Town, Milkman Delivers in Smith's and Butler Sacked. That was over a great action shot of the exuberant Premier, spreading his wings by Rohan Shastri. And in a corner on top of the front page, we see the Sun showing the electronic media people fiercely in action, almost choking the ousted Premier Paula Cox.
Broadcasters Gary Moreno and Tari Trott most especially were right on the ball, capitalising on what they had to contend with.
To an astute political observer what really happened on Monday December 17, the date of Bermuda's 2012 general election came as no surprise. Note, I stated 'astute' observer. To others it was shocking, incomprehensible.
The victory of now Premier Craig Cannonier and his One Bermuda Alliance should not be viewed as a shift of the political paradigm. To a great extent it will be business as usual, that is to say UBP style. The Old Guard will have its way. Believe me.
Notwithstanding, it was the PLP that handed everything over to the OBA virtually on a sliver platter. My good friend the Hon. Paula Cox stated outright on television she did not want to win over the former Opposition, by 'ambush' when their necks were in disarray. Surely Genesis 49:8 dictates differently. The ruling PLP agreed to dramatic boundary changes which led to the loss of potentially five seats, inclusive of the embarrassing and resounding defeat of the party Leader and her Government.
It was an unintended consequence which legally set the stage for the sureing up of the boundaries to create the political paradigm of 'one man, one vote of equal value' that the Boundaries Commission is constitutionally bound to do. By the shift of 250 votes from a UBP stronghold and placed into a PLP stronghold led to the untimely demise of five candidates inclusive of the former Premier. Although bound by law this was tantamount to legally sanctioned gerrymandering.
To the casual eye this may not appear to be of fundamental importance, as the Commission did what it was constitutionally bound to do. But as an astute political observer, it did not take into consideration the historical backdrop of race-based politics in Bermuda.
It was unparalleled in the annals of political history that a ruling government party would sign its own death warrant and agree to boundary adjustments that would ultimately lead to its demise.
What were they really thinking on that particular day one would only know, as it was the death nail that resulted in the loss of their 14 year reign as Government
I have covered proceedings of parliament for the past 65 years, I can recall the old political potentates like Sir Reginald Conyers, Sir John Cox, the longest serving Speaker of the House, who inherited his seat from his father before him Sir Henry Tucker, Sir Dudley Spurling; Sir James Pearman, whose names have been stamped indelibly into the political consciousness of all Bermudians and now manifested and embossed within the status of our business community through the blue chip law firms of Conyers, Dill and Pearman; Appleby Spurling and Kempe, all of whose original partners were former members of the House of Assembly. They were given free reign in their bank and other board rooms planning the passing of legislation that was protective of the status quo.
I witnessed many dramatic moments when the flamboyant, brilliant Dr. E.F. Gordon challenged the political paradigm of the day. Even though they made him change his name to MAZMBO he was foremost in setting the stage, the progenitor of organised labour movement, of civil rights and universal adult suffrage and emergence of my friends, Walter Robinson, Arnold Francis and Lois Browne Evans and the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party followed overnight by the illegitimate birth of the United Bermuda Party and their reactionary 30-year reign.
Thinking about how the UBP emerged, notably it just this past Monday we saw affirmation of the Holy Writ dictum that as you live so you die., thanks to the OBA (even though some claim the OBA is the UBP transmogrified).
The dawning of a New Day is upon us the OBA on Monday were victorious. A victory is a victory no matter how small or wide the margin may appear. However the status of government is a rather different mantra filled with intrigues and unknown corridors through which government policies have to travel from public debate in the House to the signature of the Governor as law. The slimiest majority in political history was secured by the OBA winning a two seat majority one which has to be waived for the appointment of a Speaker of the House of Assembly; leaving a one-vote majority to the ruling party as to the status of debate and passing of any legislation.
The PLP is standing, even though on a strong historical precipice in not only serving a 14-year reign as a Government, but as 30 years in Opposition to which they have been rendered once again.
I have no doubt that there will be a considerate degree of political banter along with a volley of Molotov cocktails thrown across the aisle in the heat of political debate. There shall be great political theatrics transpiring.
With a one-seat majority it will ultimately place the OBA under considerable pressure to sustain the legitimacy of Government. They will always be one fathom away from political censure and a call for a vote of no confidence if any of its members should cough or sneeze or need to be excused to enter the parliamentary toilet or even late returning from lunch.
Taking a ten percent pay cut though symbolic in nature will not save them from the fundamental political realities that a one-vote political majority will not save them from the fall of their government. Universally, history has shown governments that win by the slimiest vote majority rarely survive their full term in office.
It was a famous British politician who said that a week is a long time in politics. Limping around on one leg with one vote is like being on life support in hospital. We will see.