‘The PLP must focus on leading’

  • Election night 2017: the Opposition leader, leader of the Opposition David Burt (centre) leads his Progressive Labour Party in General Election victory celebrations last year (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Election night 2017: the Opposition leader, leader of the Opposition David Burt (centre) leads his Progressive Labour Party in General Election victory celebrations last year (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

A year after the Progressive Labour Party’s landslide General Election victory, it continues to measure itself against the One Bermuda Alliance, critics claimed yesterday.

Exactly 12 months since the PLP hammered the OBA at the polls, analyst Denis Pitcher said it has still to shake off the attitude of opposition and Phil Perinchief suggested there was an air of trying to “out-OBA the OBA”.

The Royal Gazette asked the two observers to look back on the first year of the PLP government headed by David Burt, the Premier, and outline their views on achievements and areas that need further attention.

Mr Pitcher, an independent commentator, said the party had delivered on many of its first 100-day pledges as well as “quietly ticking off” a number of its platform promises.

Mr Perinchief, a political scientist, added that the administration had done “extremely well” and brought “renewed vigour and hope” to the country.

However, both highlighted an apparent tendency in the party to set itself against its rival, which could harm its ability to tackle the problems facing Bermudians.

A total of 34,060 people took to the polls on July 18 last year and 20,059 voted for the PLP against 13,832 for the OBA.

That boiled down to 24 seats in Parliament for the victors, double that of their predecessors.

The scales tipped 25-11 in favour of the PLP last month with a victory in one of two by-elections.

Despite the massive majority, Mr Pitcher said: “The party seems to have a hard time shifting from the role of Opposition to that of incumbent.

“The OBA and their record continues to be a strong focus versus that of focusing on delivering what they pledged to do.

“They act as if they barely grasp the reins of power rather than the near absolute control their strong majority provides.”

Mr Pitcher warned: “The honeymoon period is gradually wearing off and the people are waking up to the realisation that the PLP have complete control to deliver on their pledges.

“The OBA, by contrast, are on life support at the moment and any focus on them seems like a distraction and wasted energy that would ultimately be a poor excuse for the PLP failing to deliver.”

Mr Pitcher said he “strongly supports” a bid to build a fintech industry on the island, but Mr Perinchief claimed it was an “at times faddish cryptocurrency craze”.

Mr Perinchief, a PLP Cabinet minister in 2006-07, added: “Unless properly and convincingly communicated to Mr and Mrs Joe Public, it appears to a growing number of people in the PLP’s support base that this ‘new and vibrant’ leadership are attempting to out-OBA their immediate predecessors, the OBA, in entrepreneurial activities, with correspondingly lesser attention paid to their day-to-day challenges.

“From the drivers of this initiative, this may be good international press. However, such press must be tampered or balanced with how this initiative is being received by those who put the PLP where it is.

“There is unquestionably some shifting of the sands in this regard from a sector of the PLP’s support base.”

Mr Perinchief predicted the party has both the numbers and the time to deal with problems old and new “and turn them to advantage for many years to come”.

Update: This article has been amended to make clear that 34,060 people voted in the 2017 General Election, not 46,669 as we initially reported. We apologise for the error.

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Published Jul 18, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 18, 2018 at 1:43 pm)

‘The PLP must focus on leading’

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