Results show that we are reaching out to all
On February 14, the front page of The Royal Gazette carried an attention-grabbing headline — “Famous: PLP must reach out to whites”.
Not quite a heart-warming Valentine’s message, yet that headline managed to attract 326 comments.
If anyone needed further proof of the reality of the “two Bermudas”, the evidence was starkly revealed in the many colourful comments, which included:
• “Stop being delusional. There is no way to reach out to white voters except by becoming a second white party, and if you do that, kiss your black supporters goodbye.” — Hernan Cortez
• “Whites have been programmed from birth to never support the PLP, and that will never change as long as we have a party system. The new ones that come here are taught the way of the land in short order.” — Freethinker
• “ ... Besides, with a 24-12 win, why would they need to attract white votes?” — Mrs Brady
Let’s think about it for a minute: bloggers are up in arms simply because a Progressive Labour Party MP says that we will reach out to all and reiterated the following:
• “We have a racial issue in this country ...”
• “We are going to do our part to reach out to all Bermudians, but it is up to them to come through the door.”
I will stand corrected if anyone can dispute any one of the previous as being less than the truth.
During the past five years, the PLP has knocked on the doors of tens of thousands of our fellow Bermudians.
Did we get to reach every single voter? Unfortunately, no.
Were we welcomed into every single home? Unfortunately, no.
There are blacks in this country who have no interest in supporting the PLP, just as there are whites in this country who have no interest in supporting the One Bermuda Alliance or the United Bermuda Party before it. We have met with numerous Bermudians of every hue who have, rightfully, expressed their frustration with never hearing from anyone from either party for years on end.
The electorate simply want, and deserve, to be heard and, unless a candidate or MP sits down with voters, the concerns and political leanings of persons cannot be determined.
Every voter, no matter their political ideology, deserves to be visited by those who represent or seek to represent them.
The results of the 2017 General Election showed a significant shift in voter support towards the PLP and away from the OBA.
One can look at trends in seats that have traditionally been held by the UBP and now the OBA.
These trends show that a significant number of OBA supporters have essentially become PLP supporters.
A prime example of this shift was seen in Constituency 7, Hamilton South, where a mere 21 votes prevented Anthony Richardson, now a senator, from defeating sitting MP Sylvan Richards.
Taking a closer look at the racial demographics across 33 constituencies, many whites would have had to have supported the PLP because there were not enough black votes to cause such a significant shift. What does this tell us? It tells us that if a political party is presenting a centrist platform and takes the requisite time to reach out to as many persons as possible, it will be supported.
Let’s look at the recent 2018-19 Budget put out by David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance.
Before the Budget was finalised, both he and junior finance minister Wayne Furbert reached out to diverse stakeholders such as the trade unions, and companies involved in local and international business.
Most importantly, they reached out to Mr and Mrs Bermuda of all hues.
Did the PLP reach out only to black voters? No.
Did the PLP reach out only to business persons? No.
We reached out to all and were able to produce a Budget that is both pragmatic for business owners and progressive for working and middle-class Bermudians.
The PLP is first and foremost a labour party that has advocated for more than 55 years for the betterment of all workers in Bermuda.
In fact, our constitution speaks to this principle:
“To secure and extend the liberties and the interests of the people and to develop the national life and prosperity of the people of Bermuda as a whole ... To work for and promote the political, economic, social, environmental and cultural progress of the people of Bermuda and to encourage their participation in all facets of life in the country.”
The door of the PLP has been, and will always be, open to all who are committed to advancing the interests of Bermudians. Indeed, our “Broad Tent” approach will continue to grow.
My fellow Bermudians, if we want a better society, we must engage with diverse communities and social circles.
Speaking with persons of a different ethnic background does not change who you are, nor does it dilute the lifetime values that have moulded you.
Doing so serves only to broaden your knowledge.
• Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org