Today’s independence talk no clearer than garbled 2006 vintage under Scott
I read with interest in The Royal Gazette, the recent comments of our premier, David Burt, who, in the House of Assembly said that the Progressive Labour Party’s constitution committed the party “to serve as a vehicle in moving Bermuda to independence”. He also said: “The fits and starts, and passing flirtations with independence have never taken hold in the hearts and minds of the people.”
The issue of independence for Bermuda is undoubtedly a controversial one. The mere fact that we are still a British colony after so many “fits and starts” on the subject should tell us something.
If we look back to 2004, the Bermuda Independence Commission was convened under the PLP/Alex Scott Administration for the purpose of educating, informing, and encouraging discussion and debate on the subject of independence. Theoretically, it was to provide unbiased and accurate information considering all facets of the political spectrum, including the submissions of all of the island’s political parties.w
It did nothing of the sort and actually contained only the PLP’s submission, and the Premier claimed that the United Bermuda Party submission was withheld “because it lacked pertinence”.
In fact, the independent American research organisation Council on Hemispheric Affairs said of the BIC report: “Without equivocation, it can be said that the BIC failed in creating a benign and non-controversial information bank that the public could use to educate itself on what would be the optimum future political status for the island. The BIC’s seemingly partisan approach deserves to be seen as a chilling omen for the island’s prospects of an even more open society.”
Subsequently, Scott went on to declare 2006 “the year for independence dialogue” and laid out a plan of action aimed at intensifying public education on the benefits of independence, largely based on information produced by the “partisan” BIC report.
I wholeheartedly agree with this statement from the COHA: “Before independence can even be reasonably considered, continued economic prosperity must be assured, and a dependable post-independence economic infrastructure envisaged, along with detailed plans for its implementation.”
There is some concern in the business community that a break from Britain could dissuade investors from continuing to consider Bermuda a stable commercial environment. This apprehension is given some weight by the Association of Bermuda International Companies, which represents all international companies maintaining a legal presence on the island, who are united in insisting that they must have the right to bring judicial appeals to the Privy Council in London. They see this as a key to preserving the stability required by those international businesses, whose corporate headquarters are at least nominally housed on the island.
We, the people, deserve at the very least, every ounce of non-biased, factual and relevant information on the independence issue — the benefits, the costs, the burdens and the gains — which have yet to be clearly laid out from a neutral perspective. One thing I do know, “national pride” does not pay the bills.
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