The last coffin nails
Upon sustaining, in boxing terms, a devastating fatal barrage of political “liver and brain-bleed head punches” at the last General Election in 2017, the One Bermuda Alliance was just awakening from its Jeanne Atherden-managed comatose stupor only to be further plunged today into yet another round of politically embarrassing downward-spiralling convulsions and contortions headed up by Craig Cannonier.
What we are witnessing are the last gasps of a party in an advanced stage of its throat-gurgling death throes just before rigor mortis permanently sets in.
However, before “rigor” really takes root, and if the OBA does not elect to “fold its tent” voluntarily and very soon, we shall have to endure the ghastly spectacle of an internal bloody fratricidal rupture and uncivil war between the old-guard United Bermuda Party members and the disappointed, disillusioned, dispirited and generally less experienced Bermuda Democratic Alliance political neophytes remaining in that party.
This division will be infinitely worsened, and the party’s demise significantly accelerated, if the OBA executive elects or selects a party leader other than Cannonier.
It will be a first for me to say that I told you so. However, I predicted this likely outcome in a December 1, 2017 opinion. To be frank, any political scientist or analyst worth their salt could have arrived at the same conclusion after the shambolic performance of the OBA at the last General Election, and at few by-elections and in Parliament in the wake of a 24-12 drubbing.
So, I am not surprised by what is unfolding today, approximately two months outside of when I said such events would transpire. My real surprise is that the OBA lasted this long. Clearly, it is in a political vegetative state, waiting for the plug to be pulled.
The Opposition is in a real dilemma — it is damned if it does, and it is damned if it doesn’t. Sitting still, of course, is not an option, as such a posture merely prolongs the pain and the inevitable final date of its political and actual funeralising, and subsequent interment. Being jammed between a rock and a hard place is infinitely more preferable.
For the OBA, as with any close human relationship or pact, it is fundamentally an issue of a deficit or betrayal of trust. Trust of and among its members, and trust of and among its supporters and the public at large. Add to that credibility and transparency, even among its own ranks, and the OBA comes up seriously wanting.
For example, when the UBP and the BDA “merged” into a paper-thin alliance, the agreement — explicitly or tacitly — was for the UBP stalwarts who held, and still obstinately hold today, largely the safe seats or strongholds to nurture, train and eventually give up those safe seats to the incoming newbies from the BDA.
With the exception of the few, Cannonier among them ironically, that simply has not happened — at least not on any meaningful or grand scale. This is seen as a renege by many of the BDA adherents and newbies such as Nick Kempe, a betrayal of a promise to its alliance partners who are suffocating and dying off as a result.
That schism deepened and widened yesterday with Michael Dunkley publicly asserting what Trevor Moniz and other UBP stalwarts are thinking and doing: that he, like the OBA, is “going nowhere”.
Dunkley egotistically, and selfishly, takes the view that he has worked too hard for what he politically has gained in his constituency and, accordingly, he is not interested in giving that up to less experienced newcomers, presumably to fritter away to the PLP at a by-election.
Accordingly, with no love lost between Dunkley and Cannonier, the stage is now set for fundamentally a last-ditch showdown, sooner rather than later. Let the games begin.
At base, it is against this backdrop that Cannonier, who certainly has his own self-confessed “crosses to bear”, hopes to rebuild a viable party from the ashes of the OBA calamity.
One asks, as he frantically sifts amid those dubious ashes, what of political substance, resilience and loyalty does he expect to unearth there?
Is this just an exercise in spinning wheels and going through the motions? Has the horse clearly bolted already? The ship sailed? You get the drift. Would one have more luck searching for gold in one’s bathtub?
Attempting to resuscitate or reassemble the splintered remains of the flotsam and jetsam of a failed and moribund OBA party is a fool’s errand, I’d say. You would have better prospects with a Humpty Dumpty reconstruction.
Building a fresh and new party, around a balanced blend of credible, meritorious, experienced and youthful fellow aspirants, would, in my view, be to avoid over time a Barbados-type political outcome in Bermuda — money, energy and time much better spent.
• Philip Perinchief, a former Cabinet minister, was the Attorney-General under the Progressive Labour Party government between October 2006 and December 2007