Time for the PLP to deliver
I read with interest the opinion of Government MP Christopher Famous begging for the opposition OBA to “oppose” in his April 13, 2018 opinion piece, headlined, “Empty vessels but still no noise coming out of the opposition”. It appears the PLP is still basking in the glow of a two-thirds majority victory and cannot resist taunting and rubbing the opposition’s nose in it.
As a Manchester City fan, I am well aware of the banter and bragging rights that go along with being victorious. However, when dealing with politics, what we are actually doing is managing people’s lives. There are still too many Bermudians unemployed, we are dying in great numbers on the roads, we still have unbearable healthcare cost for seniors, we still have “Two Bermudas”, the national debt is still cripplingly high, our educational system isn’t working for our young people and this list can go on and on. Governing is not a game of one-upmanship and once elected the game is no fun unless bantering is taken to Parliament.
MP Famous went as far as to claim that in the absence of spirited debate the PLP Government is at risk of becoming undemocratic or losing “objectivity”. He cited Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda where the opposition is almost completely non-existent after their most recent elections.
This is the risk, he claims, the country is facing for not having a contentious OBA opposition.
Is this a glimpse into the mindset of our present Government and was this their strategy for winning the election and for governance? One would think that the PLP has solved all or even some of the major challenges confronting us and they are now bored so they desire political entertainment. We all recall the weekly drama that the House descended into in recent years spearheaded by the then PLP opposition.
Maybe it is to the OBA’s credit that they have not returned us to the vitriolic politics that MP Famous seems to miss so much. Maybe the PLP are simply carrying on with the OBA agenda so there is little for them to oppose. Maybe the OBA realises that Bermuda is skating on thin ice economically and will not risk the country for political expediency.
Can we imagine what MP Famous would have said if still in opposition and the OBA provided civil unions after 60 per cent of the population who voted in a referendum said no to it? What would he have said if 99 per cent of respondents, after being asked for their input, said no to ATVs on the Railway Trail but the OBA did it anyway? What would he have said to a plan to allow foreigners to now own 60 per cent of small and medium-sized local businesses if it was put forward by the OBA? Is this his definition of listening to the will of the people and putting Bermudians first?
What we all now know is that the hot political items, the America’s Cup and the airport project, are actually benefiting Bermuda. The $336 million that was spent on island because of the America’s Cup has allowed the PLP to provide raises to most Government workers. The report commissioned by the PLP on the airport project proves that it is commercially sound.
Having said that, Premier Burt and his Cabinet ought to be congratulated on the historic election win. The majority of Bermudians had faith in them and voted for the “Putting Bermudians First” PLP election platform. It signals that Bermudians, especially black Bermudians, are hopeful of a brighter future by placing their hope in the PLP and the new Premier.
Bermudians are hopeful that the promise of a better Bermuda for all of us is realised. We do not want to return to circus politics where rhetoric and false accusations fly while our standard of living declines. What we hope is that the island begins to buzz with optimism. We are hopeful that the level of education of our children will measurably increase so that their future is brighter than the one we grew up with.
We want the political slogans to be actioned beyond winning the election and we want to be led away from despair. We want to see a revitalised economy evidenced by an increase in well-paying jobs and a vibrant housing market. We want the debt burden to be increasingly lessened and for crime to trend downward. We want those whom MP Famous previously cited as having fled overseas, to return home to a vibrant and optimistic Bermuda. We want race and class tensions to be eliminated by a shared success and belief in the future of our nation.
Bermudians are not in a trial run with our living. We are not in a dress rehearsal with our economy or the future of our children. This is the real world, with real people and real challenges in front of us that require really tough decisions. Asking for opposition for the sake of political entertainment is complete folly.
During the PLP election campaign there was a lot of traction in the community regarding a living wage. This seems to have been swept under the carpet now that the PLP has won.
In the meantime there has been PLP talk about cryptocurrency and space travel and other novel ideas. These ideas just like the America’s Cup, hotel investment, airport redevelopment, etc, require the Government to cozy up to wealthy white foreigners — something that was lambasted by the PLP not too long ago.
So while I congratulate the Premier and the PLP and while MP Famous basks in victory, they need to be reminded to get on with it. It is time to deliver on the promises made to the people. To “Put Bermudians First” is to fix the economy first.
The OBA left you with a revitalised tourism product. There are now ships in St George’s, Hamilton and Dockyard. They left you with record tourism numbers that are benefiting our nation. The OBA left you with hotel projects and the airport project which are employing hundreds of Bermudians. They left you with decreasing deficit spending and increasing Government revenue. We encourage you to build on this, as Bermudian lives depend on it.
Vic Ball was a One Bermuda Alliance senator from November 2014 to July 2017
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