Join in the discussion on independence
The topic of independence will be up for discussion at a forum tomorrow night.
Panellists scheduled for a “now or never” review will examine self-determination for the island from 6pm at the Bermuda Industrial Union headquarters in Hamilton.
The panellists are:
• Phil Perinchief: a political activist and former Progressive Labour Party attorney-general, Mr Perinchief was a member of the Bermuda Independence Commission set up in 2005
• Ryan Robinson Perinchief: founder and director of the Future Leaders Programme to mentor and develop Bermudian students, Mr Perinchief is a law graduate of Durham University’s in England
• Cordell Riley: a statistician and former president of Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda, Mr Riley has served since 2014 as the Bermuda College’s institutional and research co-ordinator
• Alex Scott: a former premier under the PLP, Mr Scott initiated the creation of the Bermuda Independence Commission, and served on the Pitt Royal Commission investigating the social and economic roots behind the civil unrest of 1977
• Lloyd Williams: Lives in St Kitts and Nevis. He is a musician and hydroponic farmer in Nevis but in Bermuda as a caregiver for his mother. He was invited to speak as a Bermudian living in a small independent nation
A former premier who appointed the Bermuda Independence Commission in 2005 has asked young people to turn out for tomorrow night’s special forum on the topic.
Alex Scott, who served as premier from 2003 to 2006, said: “The political times here and internationally require us to think soberly about what are going to do.”
Mr Scott added that the discussion was like taking part in a family conference.
He said: “If you are a young person becoming an adult and you wish to have an influence and a place that you really feel is home, you should join the discussion.
“A people cannot have total authority if another parliament can take your decision and thwart what you want.”
Mr Scott added that Bermuda “was and still is a divided community” that remained split along racial grounds on independence.
He said: “It is the penultimate step for the sovereignty of a community. Bermuda has one of the most advanced constitutions in the remaining British territories.
“To paraphrase the BIC’s report, there is no other country more prepared for independence than Bermuda.”
Mr Scott added: “There has been occasion when the British have given us the nudge towards independence, which was the case with the White Paper on independence in 1979.”
Mr Scott sat on the Pitt Commission, appointed to investigate Bermuda’s inequalities in the wake of riots that engulfed the island in 1977.
He said: “Out of its report came a call for Bermuda to move towards independence.
“The commission came out of the series of disturbances before it, but there has never been a riot since.
“The commission’s prescription for Bermuda, from a governance perspective, has worked.
“That was the beginning of the end for the vice-like grip that the United Bermuda Party had on Bermuda
“The political pendulum swung towards the PLP, and 20 years later the Government was transferred to the PLP for the first time.”
Independence was put to the public as a referendum in 1995 by Sir John Swan, a former UBP premier, who resigned from office when it was rejected.
Mr Scott suggested that, if white people had supported Sir John’s push for independence, the UBP might have remained in power.
He added: “He could have written the rules and constructed a constitution that would have probably sustained the UBP for far longer.”
Mr Scott said independence was “relevant to now, as opposed to just historic — the discussion is not independence for independence’s sake”.
Mr Scott said: “All informed observers feel Bermuda is ready.”
Independence has been a goal of the Progressive Labour Party since its formation in 1963.
However, Mr Scott traced Bermuda’s push for self-determination to earlier decades, including the work of activist E.F. Gordon and the labour movement in the 1940s.
The forum, entitled Independence for Bermuda — Now, or Never? will be held from 6pm to 8pm at the Bermuda Industrial Union on Union Street.
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