PLP must stretch the tent
The near 60 per cent mandate received from the electorate on July 18 was an unequivocal indicator that the Progressive Labour Party received much more than core support in the General Election.
Typically, both parties can rely on each gaining 30 per cent as their core, immoveable base, which depending on the mood generated in the country will be augmented by the rest of the electorate by another 18 to 20 per cent — which has traditionally provided for a margin of victory. But receiving 60 per cent is another story that needs to be understood properly and is a test for the responses of the PLP leadership.
We don’t need to get into the specifics of party history, but it should be appreciated, and persons such as Eva Hodgson have always said that party politics was a main contributor to the black community’s divisions and perhaps led to its present state of demise. Dr Hodgson rightly identified that we modelled the political example of the Europeans’ struggle of labour, when our main issue was racial disparity, unlike Europe, which was essentially a monoculture. The differences within the black community became polarised by the presence of two parties that divided the merchant from the labour, and when conflated with the overarching race component, created an additional avenue of divisiveness.
Bermuda was always a more evenly distributed racial mix. When compared with most Western jurisdictions and intellectually, it also made sense that our politics should have been less racially discernible and not the case of a black party versus a white. How we became locked into a race-based political paradigm is cause for a separate discussion. The big question for us has always been how do we get away from that narrow construct, or — just as important — who or what mechanism can take us there?
This recent election result can be interpreted in a couple of ways, the worst of which is for the PLP to miscalculate the vastness of the victory and consider it a celebration only among its core. This election result was for sure not the chickens returning home; in fact, it’s a brand new chicken farm. Now is the time for a magnanimous leadership, which can stretch out and broaden the tent. Why restrict the available base of talent to the limited core when the electoral mandate indicates the support base to be far wider than ever considered.
Knowledge causes progress and experience leads to wisdom. The country needs all the wisdom and experience available to bring it through the numerous issues it faces. We cannot afford another cycle of using only one half of the brainpower of the nation because of clinging to partisan political considerations and cliques when there is much more available.
The old methodology of keeping all the power inside the room and viewing others suspiciously as outsiders is a proven recipe for poor results.
The new, young, vibrant leadership of the PLP must commit itself to a new day. That does not mean abandoning the party’s labour roots, but rather it must recognise the broader needs that require greater ideological inclusiveness.
The struggle for this generation is to meet the more wholesome needs of this community, which in some cases means building and rebuilding our very humanity. If the young leaders are able to part from the old tendencies of servicing a bygone era and satisfy the modern challenge by stretching the tent, they will inherit an unassailable majority and will create the dynamic for a new political order.
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