Regroup and recommit
The Bermudian electorate rendered its verdict on December 17 which clearly sent a resounding message that they were in no mood for a business as usual result, after years of doubt and confusion over how the affairs of the people were being handled by those charged with leadership responsibility.
Without that doubt and confusion, which shattered confidence with the Progressive Labour Party Government, the One Bermuda Alliance would have had an almost impossible task in trying to unseat a government with 14 years at the helm. Instead, the One Bermuda Alliance, relatively new on the political scene, knew there was mounting resentment across the Island regarding Governments performance, especially on issues involving the public purse. Many felt Government had ignored economic danger signs and plundered ahead with spending as though there would never be a rainy day.
Even if that public concept was not totally accurate, there was sufficient concern spreading like a wild fire throughout our communities that Government was failing to do everything possible to safeguard our economic base, to guard against job losses as global recession waves could clearly be seen approaching our shores.
Much of the world suffered from that recession, but a lack of protective measures from Government could have been one reason the Premier who was also Finance Minister, crumbled at the polls. It is not a question of how many voted, or did not vote.
The bottom line is that those who voted left no doubt that Bermuda needed a change in direction. There are critical lessons for every politician to learn here. Excuses and reasons for the PLP defeat hold little water, when it is clear over the years, the PLP lost much of their base support.
However there were other factors that hurt the PLP badly that included a lack of transparency and accountability. In fact the PLP really should blame themselves for not holding those key principles high enough while in the position of power. The Bermudian people should never be taken for granted. Any Government of Bermuda must serve the people with honesty and integrity, if they hope to build confidence.
There was that incident when a Government Minister resigned over a highly questionable decision he made, which would have benefited two of his colleagues. He claimed he did nothing wrong, but only resigned because ferocious criticism over his decision was harming the party image. Even a number of PLP supporters were not ashamed to admit that it left more questions than answers. Perhaps the Progressive Labour Party in the wake of its defeat at the polls, will reflect deeply on just why the electorate opted for different political management. It is a task the new PLP leader will be confronted with.
The One Bermuda Alliance, now the new Government, must avoid anything that lacks transparency in staking their claim to lead the island to greener economic pastures, and a safe peaceful society. The OBA have on board some very experienced people and have formed an impressive team to launch their initiatives. They know they face many challenges, but they also know real progress comes from hard work and listening to the people.
The election result was an endorsement that the Bermudian people felt the time was ripe to give the One Bermuda Alliance an opportunity to make a difference, rather than risk keeping a Government in power that seemed more engrossed in political survival.
Remember the former United Bermuda Party once riding high for years fell victim to complacency and lost touch with the concerns of the Bermudian people and paid dearly.
Bermuda is really too small to have the amount of bitter and nasty exchanges which only serves to further divide our diverse society attempting to move to the higher ground of social harmony. Everyone knows a change of Government will not solve our problems overnight.
However most people are hoping the new Government will usher in a new era of transparency and accountability in tackling those problems. No Government is perfect, but the OBA will be well supported if that remains their main objective.
The regrouping of politics in Bermuda in this new age of instant communication leaves no room for political game playing purely to protect this or that group, or even an individual. Just as most right thinking Bermudians wanted the Progressive Labour Party Government to be successful most people today will be wishing success for the One Bermuda Alliance, hoping they will take full advantage of the opportunity to connect with the people and move Bermuda forward. Their leader Craig Cannonier, has openly pledged to do just that.
A great deal of work lies ahead and hopefully the Opposition Progressive Labour Party will not be simply waiting on the sidelines for the OBA to stumble. Instead they should regroup and commit themselves to assist whenever and wherever possible, in trying to make Bermuda a better place. It would be a positive step for all.
The much awaited election is over, we have a new Government and a new age of our political history is just beginning. How we all handle this, could affect those Bermudians yet unborn. Lets conduct ourselves in a manner that will make the next generation proud of how we meet this challenge.
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