Point of order

  • You’ve got mail: British MP David Lammy has been subjected to open racism through hate mail, the most recent of which resulted in the successful prosecution of the sender. It is an example that the situation in “the motherland” is far worse than can ever be imagined in Bermuda, where race is so often the order of the day. More pertinent is whether the three leading men in Parliament, the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition and the Speaker of the House, can learn to get along (Photograph courtesy of Sky News)

    You’ve got mail: British MP David Lammy has been subjected to open racism through hate mail, the most recent of which resulted in the successful prosecution of the sender. It is an example that the situation in “the motherland” is far worse than can ever be imagined in Bermuda, where race is so often the order of the day. More pertinent is whether the three leading men in Parliament, the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition and the Speaker of the House, can learn to get along (Photograph courtesy of Sky News)

  • Early exit: Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Early exit: Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

  • Standing his ground: David Burt, the Premier of Bermuda (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    Standing his ground: David Burt, the Premier of Bermuda (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

  • Authority challenged: Dennis Lister, the Speaker of the House (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Authority challenged: Dennis Lister, the Speaker of the House (File photograph by Akil Simmons)


Dear David,

Why don’t you f*** off back to whatever n***** shithole you originate from and take that white, bestiality, n*****-loving whore wife of yours with you.

You are nothing more than a fat, bashment-loving n*****. The only reason you are an MP is because your constituency is a n*****-infested shithole. No human being would ever vote for you.

Oliver Cromwell would never have started the civil war if he knew that monkey n*****s like you would one day be sitting in the House of Commons.

I would turn all of you n*****s into soap, which would be the ultimate irony considering you are all a stain on the face of humanity.

Regards Steve.

No, this shockingly heinous template for inappropriateness was not addressed to Our David, the Premier of Bermuda, but, rather, David Lammy, the respected and longstanding British Member of Parliament for Tottenham in the London Borough of Haringey.

We have many discussions about race in Bermuda — our racist past and, dare we say, present, and significantly for calls for the unrealised Big Conversation to be revisited.

That “conversation” has failed to materialise for the singular reason that influential white Bermudians, in particular those descendant from the oligarchs that ran Bermuda from behind the scenes — and often right in front of our faces in the Houses of Parliament — were unwilling or not suitably encouraged to accept a seat at the table for “that talk”.

And so the divisions remain, but now with a majority-black government that emboldens a majority-black community to speak its truth — none of which speeds us along a path towards racial harmony.

But for all the discord, the mistrust, the deep-rooted misgivings and side eyes, we are a far sight advanced from what can be found elsewhere — in Donald Trump’s America and, particularly, in the place to where most emigrating Bermudians seek refuge when the going gets tough — economically or otherwise.

Not as blatantly in-your-face and prolific as the racism that Clyde Best encountered when he dared play football for West Ham United in the early Seventies, a period when the idea of a black professional footballer was anathema to many in Britain, but “Steves” abound in greater numbers than 10 Downing Street is prepared to admit, making “the motherland” hardly the moral authority on race relations.

David Lammy has been outspoken on a number of issues, including his support for same-sex marriage, the Windrush generation deportation affair, the Grenfell Tower disaster, a stated resistance to Brexit, and the criminal justice system’s failing of inner-city black youths — highlighted by the London riots of 2011 that literally ignited a ripple effect up and down England.

He has occasionally fallen foul of popular opinion, mind, not least in February when his criticism that “the world [Africa] does not need any more white saviours” was held responsible in parts for an £8 million shortfall in donations to Comic Relief — the lowest overall intake for 12 years by the charity set up to help poor and disadvantaged people in Britain and the world’s poorest communities.

Was that justification for “Steve” to let loose his inner self?

Probably not, especially since the prototypical British racist cares little for the world outside the realm of Queen and country.

But let loose he did, to reveal that winning the fight against racism in the United Kingdom is far more ambitious than it is in her Overseas Territories.

We see your racism and raise you self-loathing.

Hardly black-on-black crime but Friday’s extraordinary episodes in the House of Assembly featured Our David at their core, and co-starred Dennis Lister (Speaker of the House) and Craig Cannonier (Leader of the Opposition).

Three black men at the heart of the action whose relationships are under considerable threat.

Whether or not the Premier cares to mend fences with the Opposition leader, he surely should be minded to make nice with the Speaker, for this is the second time in recent weeks that the pair have publicly locked horns, giving the impression of a rift forming.

The optics of old school versus new school are unavoidable, and it does not require a deep dive into history to learn of instances when the Progressive Labour Party has slipped on a banana peel through internal strife.

Does Mr Burt desire as toxic a relationship with the Speaker as his predecessor as party leader, Marc Bean, had with Randy Horton by the end of their parliamentarily arranged marriage?

Does he really care? You would think not, considering what came next.

Whether or not the Premier was intentionally misleading the House with “a Throne Speech disguised as a ministerial statement”, as the Opposition so exhaustively and effusively protested during no fewer than a dizzying 20 points of order — perhaps the best co-ordinated effort by the One Bermuda Alliance since December 2012 — he clearly adopted the entitled role of spoilt brat by releasing the same statement to the public through the media that had been very belatedly refused to the public by way of the House.

Oft-delayed immigration legislation was not far from the heart of Mr Cannonier’s voluminous outbursts, which ultimately earned him the heave-ho, but the feeling is that that and the Michael Barbosa defeat in the Privy Council on Remembrance Day have done much to take the sheen off the feel-good factor generated around the one-off holiday festivities celebrating the first arrivals of Portuguese 170 years ago.

With a fortnight off to let cooler heads prevail, it is to be hoped that the worst excesses of our public discourse are reserved for the default topic of race.

Oh, yes, so whatever became of “Steve”, who should not be auditioning for Ask Ann anytime soon?

He was apprehended by the Metropolitan Police, and sentenced to a 12-month community order — which means no jail time — and an eight-week curfew.

Nice risk-and-reward trade-off, that, for the oldest hate crime known to mankind.

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Published Nov 18, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Nov 18, 2019 at 9:33 am)

Point of order

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