PLP has the freedom to provide perfect union of participation

  • Alaska Hall: the Progressive Labour Party's headquarters

    Alaska Hall: the Progressive Labour Party's headquarters

Where are and what the heck is the One Bermuda Alliance doing? Or, better put, what should they be doing? Should they continue as a party or fold and let political nature take its course?

The issue is bigger than the disparity of 25 to 11; it’s a whole matter of relevancy and purpose. It’s not personal, either. That is to say, there is nothing necessarily wrong with any of the MPs or senators; it’s more about what do they have as an alternative to contribute.

Is it enough just to have an effective opposition? Or is the country better served when it has a possible alternative government?

It is good that the Progressive Labour Party has the opportunity to be the Government on the assumption that it will set a good standard and reverse the stigma attached from the past. It would be healthy for that group and the country for the PLP to shine in this term of office.

Yet, even if they were to have an outstanding term in office, the principle of a democracy is that it is not a monarchy. Therefore, government is not an inherited right where persons become settled with a right to rule and privilege. The idea of limited terms of office, as adopted in the United States, was to prevent the development of leadership dynasties, which is an unavoidable human tendency. It does happen, notwithstanding, and that is why the Kennedys had a legacy and why there were two Bush presidents, and on our home front why Paula Cox essentially inherited the Ministry of Finance from her father. There are other examples.

The idea implicit in the terminology “towards a more perfect union” is to create a government that engages all the people as much as practically possible. Also implicit is the reality that a democracy in any country, and with any people, is indeed a work in progress. Dynasties emerge and tyrannies occur when that work stops.

We saw the result of the 2017 election. The fallout, rather than being embarrassing, should be revealing. The OBA was obliterated and now some of the former old guard and leaders are writing op-eds trying to defend the integrity of their governance. But we all know governance is more: it includes a mandate. Without a mandate, there is no right to govern.

There are those who will justify their role as OBA because of a responsibility to their electorate and those who put them there. It is high time the OBA realises that it has been depending on a mandate from an unhealthy formula as an electorate — 90 per cent to 100 per cent white support, with just enough blacks to tip the balance has been the equation for its existence.

Can’t a political organisation find a cause that transcends race equations for its existence? I can hear the counter-arguments: “Oh, but the PLP is based on black nationalism.”

Well, if that is the case, it actually begs for an ideology that is broader than black nationalism and not a political strategy that is a reaction to it.

Both the United Bermuda Party and the OBA, in spite of their rhetoric and noble names that seemed inclusive, were emotively just reactions to black nationalism — hence, not truly inclusive but just as racial and not based on an inherent philosophy that promoted an egalitarianism for all Bermudians.

The higher political issue for our country is to keep the march towards a more participatory system. We ended the property vote with the hope of more participation. However, we then adopted a type of partisanship that actually has resulted in the same extremely limited level of “real” participation as before 1963.

The real politics and governance of the country, as in the days of the property vote, is still in the hands of fewer than 2,000 people. The political frontier is wide open; we just need eyes to see it.

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Published Jun 27, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Jun 27, 2018 at 7:17 am)

PLP has the freedom to provide perfect union of participation

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