The Bermudian voters’ dilemma

  • Work to be done: the start of the Covid-19 lockdown in March (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Work to be done: the start of the Covid-19 lockdown in March (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

  • Vic Ball was a One Bermuda Alliance senator from November 2014 to July 2017

    Vic Ball was a One Bermuda Alliance senator from November 2014 to July 2017

At this moment, mainstream and social media are excited about the potential of a third party running in the upcoming snap election. As a candidate for the One Bermuda Alliance, I am mindful that we came into being as a third-party alternative to the two existing parties at the time.

It was clear that around 2010, Bermudian voters were no longer satisfied with a failing economy: there was a lack of hope and opportunities, our home values were on the decline, racial politics were rampant and there was a lack of ideas to move the country forward.

At that time, the OBA formed with the ideology to include all Bermudians in moving the country forward by leaving behind the old political baggage from either side. The OBA was the party of the young and the old, the rich and poor, blacks and whites who wanted to make a difference towards a better country.

In spite of the accusations that the OBA is a refuge for former United Bermuda Party members, the OBA has remained true to form in its composition. The interesting thing about these accusations is that the Progressive Labour Party has a former UBP party leader in its Cabinet, had another former UBP member in its Cabinet and literally has the last standing member and leader of the UBP in its ranks.

I will add, it is undeniable that the vast majority of white voters support the OBA. In my view, this is mostly because of the polarising racial and divisive language coming from the PLP, rather than the policies of the OBA.

The PLP has been successful with winning elections this way because we have a majority-black population. The PLP knows that if it stirs the racial pot while declaring it is the champion for blacks, it has little chance of losing.

This strategy has been so successful despite over the past two decades the education of our children having significantly decreased, the value of our homes having depreciated by as much as 60 per cent, there being far less opportunity and hope, jobs becoming scarce, our taxes getting higher and higher, and the cost of healthcare rising dramatically.

The PLP politicians and the PLP elite are the only winners in this strategy. For the rest of us, we vote them into power to our economic and social demise.

Shortly, the PLP’s Commission of Inquiry into historic land grabs, going back to when Bermuda was an overtly racist country, will be tabled. Allegations and evidence of racial injustice will be no doubt revealed. There should also be no doubt that the OBA, which has been in existence for only a decade, will have something to do with those past injustices.

The PLP will stir this pot just as it is trying to pass legislation that will be likely to the detriment of Bermuda or to deflect from the damning reality of the moment and its record.

It is evident for all to see that our island has been in steady decline since the first tenure of the PLP beginning in 1998. Our present economic indicators show little growth or very steep declines. Many of us cannot find a job for the ones we lost. We are asking for government aid just to make ends meet.

We cannot afford to send our children to school without assistance for uniforms, school bags and school supplies. The growing and enormous debt is requiring new and higher taxes, businesses are closing in record numbers, the middle class is shrinking at an alarming rate — especially the black middle class.

We are seeing unprecedented job losses, more and more expatriates and Bermudians are fleeing while they can, civil servants are being asked to sacrifice their future with salary reduction measure while the economy is already decimated and devastated.

The Premier recently declared his economic accomplishments as fintech, cannabis legislation and international business. It is mind-boggling that he is taking credit for international business — just as ridiculous as the first two. Can we be honest? Fintech has been an abysmal and total failure. Claiming it to be a success shows how low the bar is set when it comes to economic stimulation by the PLP.

He made a huge error believing the impediments to fintech were technical problems when in fact it is a banking challenge with global implications that he cannot overcome. Additionally, proposed PLP cannabis legislation will continue to make criminals out of black Bermudians, which will still find them being put on the stop list and unable to take advantage of international opportunities in the United States.

Additionally, to suggest the idea that Bermuda is going to compete with the world as a commercial cannabis producer should be an insult to Bermudians. Like many Bermudians, I am of the view that we should not be having this election. The PLP has a 25-11 majority with an overwhelming mandate to pass any legislation it would like, and it still has more than two years left of its five-year term. The election was called as our Covid-19 numbers are rising and we are experiencing community spread or local transmission.

I have written about this previously in — “Red flag: the middle-class predicament” — that the only logical explanation that the PLP are risking the life and wellbeing of every Bermudian is to try and secure their political and financial well being now before the harsh reality of where our nation is financially and socially is ultimately revealed.

The PLP knows, without a shadow of doubt, that based upon its politics, policies, divisive speech, lack of leadership and vision the worst is yet to come.

If you think things are bad now, you have not seen anything yet. In other words, two years from now Bermuda will be in such a disaster that the PLP knows it could not win.

Therefore, it is securing its financial wellbeing for the next five years while the majority of us will likely see our economic and social status collapse. This is what the PLP calls strong leadership.

I will conclude by saying that this dilemma can be overcome if Bermudians soberly assess how we got into this mess and if they listen to or read up on the most compelling ideas that will get us out of it. It is difficult to believe that the party that has got us to this point over the past 20 years is now the party to get us out of this economic challenge. If it could see a way out, there would be no need for this election.

I concede the failings of the OBA as we have not been stellar in opposition. We have not sold ourselves on being a viable alternative over the past three years.

However, our track record as government plainly shows we were able to attract approximately $1 billion in investment in four years and we were turning the island around financially from the disaster we inherited.

Our ideals and plans deserve objective assessment once they are presented in the near future. Our inclusive and lack of divisive rhetoric should also be measured against the PLP’s constant race-baiting. We have been proven and we are confident that when provided the opportunity to lead Bermuda again, we will do better. Our view is that if we do not learn to live together as one Bermuda we will perish together as fools.

Vic Ball was a One Bermuda Alliance senator from November 2014 to July 2017

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Published Aug 28, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 28, 2020 at 8:01 am)

The Bermudian voters’ dilemma

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