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John Barritt

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  • Celebrating a great yet quiet hero
    Apr 29, 2016 8:00 am

    Celebrating a great yet quiet hero

    I know, Mr Editor, I said that I was going to stop writing for a time. But I trust you will allow me this exception, a tribute for an exceptional person: the late Dr the Honourable Clarence James, CBE, JP.

    We were not contemporaries, but our paths often crossed — first in my years as a journalist and then as an MP. I got to know him well enough to hold him in high regard.

    Clarence James was very much a man for his times.

    I...

  • National service’s cause for pause
    Apr 15, 2016 8:00 am

    National service’s cause for pause

    Readers will know that last week the Commission of Inquiry started its work in earnest, much of it preparatory at this stage, Mr Editor.

    I have had a decision to make and I have made it. I am going to stand down as a columnist and commentator for the duration of the commission’s deliberations.

    There’s a lot of work to be done. But it isn’t just the work, it is the appearance, too, of continuing to write now that I have accepted...

  • Consultation: what exactly does it mean?
    Apr 8, 2016 8:00 am

    Consultation: what exactly does it mean?

    Ps, Mr Editor, is an unusual way to begin a column. Postscripts are usually found at the end. But I want to begin this week with a follow-up to last week’s column.

    Consultation does have its sceptics, critics and detractors — and I want to address some of what I have been reading and hearing in response.

    Consultation: does it mean that the Government has to agree to everything everyone else puts forward? No, it does not. But it...

  • Consultation must be real and genuine
    Apr 1, 2016 8:00 am

    Consultation must be real and genuine

    Inquiring minds want to know, Mr Editor, following last week’s column and recent events: OK, Barritt, any bright ideas on how consultation could work? Fair question.

    First, any attempt needs to be real and genuine. People will quickly recognise when it is and when it is not.

    Second, it isn’t as if the powers that be are being asked to discover plutonium. Consultation can take many forms.

    It has been used elsewhere...

  • Destined for failure right from the start
    Mar 24, 2016 8:00 am

    Destined for failure right from the start

    The problem, Mr Editor, is that you really only get the one chance to make a good first impression. A second chance is, well, just that, a second chance, and if you are fortunate to get one in life, you try to make the best of it that you can. Make lemonade out of those lemons, urge some.

    In so many ways, that is pretty much the position in which the One Bermuda Alliance government finds itself today on the vexatious issue of...

  • Time to examine failing system
    Mar 18, 2016 8:00 am

    Time to examine failing system

    Words almost fail me, Mr Editor, so I won’t be so long this week. So much has already been said; too much in some cases, and so much of it nasty, ugly and unhelpful, and, sadly, said by some who hide behind the cloak of anonymity. Shame on them. So I have no wish to add to the noise.

    No single event or issue has brought us to where we find ourselves today. It is the culmination of much of what’s wrong with us as a community and how we...

  • Division and discord in this debate was utterly predictable
    Mar 11, 2016 8:00 am

    Division and discord in this debate was utterly predictable

    “The same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg ...”— Unknown

    I am no political consultant, Mr Editor, and with that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get down to it. The business of politics is no easy business and strategy is often key to success or failure. I know, I know, I’m stating the obvious. To some maybe, but to all, maybe not. There are some fundamentals when it comes...

  • Willingness to seek common ground would help us all
    Mar 4, 2016 8:00 am

    Willingness to seek common ground would help us all

    Compromise, collaboration and consensus are not four-letter words, as you well know, Mr Editor, but it sure seems like it when it comes to modern-day politics, if you get my drift.

    This can be one of the drawbacks to the Westminster system and how the winning party gets to take all, no matter how close the popular vote. The party in power claims that it was elected to govern — and so it should. Lead, that is. But that doesn’t...

  • People want to be heard before decisions are made
    Feb 26, 2016 8:00 am

    People want to be heard before decisions are made

    Pathways, Mr Editor, can be a very useful way for the Bermuda Government to signpost the direction in which it intends to lead us. The 2015-16 Budget is a very good example of this — and, yes, this reference to pathways is deliberate; to make a point. Read on.

    The finance minister and his colleagues are going to stick with the two-tier strategy that they adopted soon after they came to office: trim government spending where they can,...

  • Seniors spell future for all of us in Budget
    Feb 19, 2016 8:00 am

    Seniors spell future for all of us in Budget

    It’s Budget time. Brace yourselves, people. But while you do, spare a thought for our seniors. It will be revealing to see whether they will merit a line or two in today’s Budget Statement. They ought to; maybe even a paragraph or two.

    They have issues which, frankly, are also our issues that need to be discussed and addressed. And, here’s the kicker, they are not going to disappear any time soon, if ever.

    It isn’t just because...

  • Sense and sensibility
    Feb 13, 2016 8:00 am

    Sense and sensibility

    “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past”

    — William Faulkner

    It wasn’t just the timing of the February 5 announcement of pathways to status, Mr Editor, coming as it did so hard on the heels of the Government’s loss in the Devonshire North Central by-election, there was also the reaction that was sure to follow such a controversial decision on such a contentious matter: immigration.

    You would have to be living in a whole...

  • Have division and discord been cemented under our system?
    Feb 12, 2016 8:00 am

    Have division and discord been cemented under our system?

    Riveting, exciting and unpredictable even, Mr Editor. This is what elections hold not just for political junkies, but the casual observer as well. No, I do not have in mind the recent by-election in Devonshire North Central, which seemed to be anything but — and I will come back to that vote shortly. I am thinking more of those Republican and Democratic primaries and what they have to tell us about politics and the direction in which politics...

  • Oversight critical to get value for money
    Feb 5, 2016 8:00 am

    Oversight critical to get value for money

    Now we all like to be in the know, or at least think we are, Mr Editor, but it isn’t always easy to keep with everything that is going on with the Government. So we come to rely on the news media to keep us informed of the affairs of state, thank you very much.

    We can also do some checking up ourselves, thanks to the internet, one of the greatest advances of the information age and for good governance: statements and documents can be...

  • Why AC is already a missed opportunity
    Jan 29, 2016 8:00 am

    Why AC is already a missed opportunity

    There is this conversation I have been having with one reader that I have been meaning to share, Mr Editor. After last week’s column, this is as good a time as any. Our conversation was about politics, race and the America’s Cup, an interesting but unlikely trio, you may think, at first blush. While some but not necessarily all readers may wonder what one has to do with the other, it is hardly surprising that the three should intersect, given...

  • The Trump phenomenon: what lessons for us?
    Jan 22, 2016 8:00 am

    The Trump phenomenon: what lessons for us?

    How long, I wonder, before the Trump phenomenon reaches our shores, Mr Editor? And I don’t mean the man; I mean his brand of politics.

    Unlikely, you say? Well, maybe not. In politics, as in business, as in life really, nothing succeeds like success and by all appearances (and polls), Donald J. Trump appears to be succeeding.

    His game plan of huffing and puffing himself up and tearing his opponents down is gaining traction; not...

  • System of accountability not been working
    Jan 15, 2016 8:00 am

    System of accountability not been working

    It might be laughable, Mr Editor, were it not so sad. OK, maybe “laughable” is not the right word, but a wry smile would not be out of line.

    This Commission of Inquiry is needed, we are told, because Bermuda’s reputation is at risk. Moreover, so the line goes, those recent reports of the Auditor-General have not, to say the least, painted a pretty picture, and made us look like something less than the first-class, world-class...

  • Power and loss of power are what count most
    Jan 8, 2016 8:00 am

    Power and loss of power are what count most

    Charisma, huh? Well, I agree, Mr Editor, to this extent: as has been often said, style is a good indication of substance. Not always, mind you, but often enough. This can be particularly true of those who perform in the political arena.

    We do so admire the silver-tongued who can entertain us, sure, but who can also appeal to our higher nature, our collective hopes and aspirations, and take us to new heights, rather than those who seek...

  • Can Environment Charter help airport plan?
    Jan 5, 2016 8:00 am

    Can Environment Charter help airport plan?

    The proposed new airport project has given flight to a lot of discussion — to put it, er, mildly, Mr Editor — and is likely to continue to do so for some time to come. It’s not surprising either, when you consider what’s at stake and how the development is going to be financed. But here’s something else to consider and to add to the discussion.

    Now, as you know, personalities do not often feature in this column but this week I make an...

  • Transparency needs sunshine of scrutiny
    Jan 2, 2016 8:00 am

    Transparency needs sunshine of scrutiny

    “Where had I heard this wind before/

    Change like this to a deeper roar?” *

    By John Barritt

    Finally, Mr Editor, a much-needed Commission of Inquiry, the announcement of which has met with initial endorsement from the Man on top of the Other Hill down to Alaska Hall, and pretty well across the rest of the Island, I suspect.

    No one I know is asking why. Only: why did it take so long?

    While there is no need to pour...

  • Enjoy some year-end fun with my quiz
    Dec 30, 2015 8:00 am

    Enjoy some year-end fun with my quiz

    Oh, the things that people say, Mr. Editor. They often make for good copy, as we say in the trade, and for interesting reading for sure. So this week, by way of my “Year in Review”, readers are challenged to identify who said what in 2015 but with a twist for a bit of year-end fun.

    Here’s how it works — or is supposed to. The reported remarks of various personalities — lifted from the pages of The Royal Gazette, thank you — are...

  • No need to check my wish list twice
    Dec 24, 2015 8:00 am

    No need to check my wish list twice

    Yes, Virginia, politics could use a little more Santa Claus. I don’t necessarily mean more jolly and I am not thinking of more gifts; nice as that might be.

    Instead I have in mind the give and take of politics, the cut and thrust of debate that is an integral part of the adversarial system that is Westminster. All of us, I suspect, Mr Editor, would probably like to see a lot more give and a lot less take.

    Of course, we all have...

  • Snap elections, integrity and credibility
    Dec 18, 2015 8:00 am

    Snap elections, integrity and credibility

    The urge to go, Mr Editor, can be strong; compelling even. Pressure can mount, becoming, well, quite intense, practically unbearable. You know the deal, and thus it appears that there is but the one solution.

    It can be like that with the body politic, too.

    You touched upon prospects for a snap election last week. It has also been a talking point in any number of circles and for obvious reason. It wasn’t that long ago that Sir John...

  • Step up and start the Pati brigade
    Dec 11, 2015 8:00 am

    Step up and start the Pati brigade

    Inquiring minds want to know, Mr Editor, what it is they can do in the wake of the most recent reports of the Auditor-General. Of course, they want action and many have lost confidence that anything meaningful will happen.

    Well, I have an idea: step up and help to start the Pati brigade.

    Pati: the Public Access To Information Act, which, from the start, has been widely touted, and correctly, as an additional means by which the...

  • Inquiring minds want and deserve to know
    Dec 4, 2015 8:00 am

    Inquiring minds want and deserve to know

    I don’t know about you, Mr Editor, but the cynic in me tells me that the dogs may bark but the caravan will move on. The reports and findings of the Auditor-General have caused a stir, but will anything really happen?

    You may remember the old saw about matters that are sent to committee: so that those in charge can give the appearance that something is being done when, in actual fact, difficult matters are simply being sent there to...

  • Promises worth pursuing
    Nov 28, 2015 8:00 am

    Promises worth pursuing

    Be careful what you wish for, yes? Be careful, too, what you promise, Mr Editor. You may reasonably be expected to deliver.

    To its credit, the One Bermuda Alliance government announced in the Throne Speech its plans to deliver on a promise to introduce absentee balloting for students abroad, providing they are studying at “recognised educational institutions” — although quite why their right to vote should be so qualified is not yet...

  • Damning report must wake up our Legislature
    Nov 21, 2015 8:00 am

    Damning report must wake up our Legislature

    How rich it was, Mr Editor, that the most recent damning report of the Auditor-General should be released on the same day our Legislature reconvenes for another year. Poor pun, I know. A Throne Speech, you say?

    For my money, and for your money, too, dear readers, the Governor should have read the Auditor-General’s report out loud to our legislators, all nicely assembled and attentive under the big tent eight days ago with their...

  • Lyrics may change, but the beat goes on
    Nov 20, 2015 8:00 am

    Lyrics may change, but the beat goes on

    Steady as she goes? Maybe, Mr Editor, maybe.

    Certainly, Throne Speech 2015 didn’t contain any significant surprises — nothing that new and nothing that dramatic — and it struck me as all very matter-of-fact and straightforward in tone and content; very businesslike, in fact.

    What is clear, very clear, is that the Government is pinning its electoral tail very much on the economy, specifically economic recovery. It remains the...

  • Less from less would be welcome
    Nov 13, 2015 8:00 am

    Less from less would be welcome

    Pomp and pageantry marks the beginning today of a new legislative session. It’s one of the more pleasant (and pleasing) parliamentary traditions that helps to distinguish us here and abroad.

    It also highlights our British heritage and represents that to which we apparently continue to hold fast, or so it seems, but which is in need of change, specifically our Westminster style of government.

    But it isn’t like we need to...

  • And here is ... not the Throne Speech
    Nov 6, 2015 8:00 am

    And here is ... not the Throne Speech

    This week’s column features the Throne Speech that will not be delivered next Friday. At least I don’t think so — and that’s because it is made up, by me. It comes with a disclaimer, too. Any resemblance to actual events, past or present, or actual persons, real or not, is purely coincidental — and any relevance to actual events or actual persons, Mr Editor, I leave to readers to decide.

    Some assembly will of course be required and the...

  • Scrutiny by PAC should be standard procedure
    Oct 30, 2015 8:00 am

    Scrutiny by PAC should be standard procedure

    We all get our fair share of criticism, Mr Editor, and JB is no exception. Nor should he be. Readers should have their say, too, and I appreciate the dialogue. But there are a couple of points that have arisen recently in conversation that are worth sharing.

    Point Number One: I am too critical of the Government, says one reader. I should take on the Progressive Labour Party, too, and more often. Well, that sort of criticism largely...

  • What needs fixin’ and where
    Oct 23, 2015 8:00 am

    What needs fixin’ and where

    Reports of the Auditor-General can be challenging and heavy reading, Mr Editor, the more so for the average person. But that doesn’t make them dull or any less important.

    On the contrary; and to be clear, I am not referring to those “special” reports, which the Auditor-General publishes from time to time on projects that have gone, well, horribly wrong, and that’s putting it mildly, I know, like the Port Royal Golf Course, for example.

  • Nasty, personal attacks are unwelcome
    Oct 16, 2015 8:00 am

    Nasty, personal attacks are unwelcome

    This week’s column is a farce, Mr Editor; although, who knows, maybe in the eyes of some, all of my columns are. So be it. There will always be a disagreement on matters of opinion and that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it is downright healthy. As one of your anonymous readers pointed out this week, columnists are not gospel.

    But here’s the other thing; a good thing, I think: while I may disagree, I do try to express my disagreement...

  • Oct 9, 2015 8:00 am

    Author’s observations a Rae of hope

    What’s happened to politics?

    Good question, Mr Editor, and one that is asked and answered by Bob Rae in his recently published book of the same title that I mentioned in a column a few weeks back, about which I promised a follow-up.

    It is a quick read, if you can manage a copy of 147 pages, and well worth the time it takes to work your way through. He is a Canadian politician of considerable experience, wit and insight. He has...

  • Heed call for a spirit of collaboration
    Oct 2, 2015 8:00 am

    Heed call for a spirit of collaboration

    It was something the Pope said, Mr Editor, that got me to thinking. In fact, he said a lot of interesting and challenging things on his recent visits to Cuba and the United States, and one of them was, yes, the need to make politics a creative calling.

    The Pope has a point: we here in Bermuda do need to start thinking (and acting) outside the proverbial Westminster box in which we find ourselves.

    But that wasn’t the comment that...

  • AC and airport: more public scrutiny needed
    Sep 25, 2015 8:00 am

    AC and airport: more public scrutiny needed

    Night and day, black and white, OBA and PLP, two meetings, two Bermudas. But I expect that I am not telling you anything new, Mr Editor, or anyone else for that matter.

    The two meetings to which I refer were meetings I was able to attend on the same evening last week: first, the one in Hamilton City on the America’s Cup and the second in St George’s on the proposed new airport project.

    The audiences could not have been more...

  • Backbenchers and the numbers game
    Sep 18, 2015 8:00 am

    Backbenchers and the numbers game

    There’s nothing like a pleasant dressing-down, Mr Editor, and I received a very nice one of those last week from a kind and faithful reader. She told me that I don’t understand, although I do (smile), and only too well (smile), and from experience (smile, again). Politics is all about numbers, she wanted to remind me: always do your arithmetic if you want to know what is or is not possible.

    I hear you. A 19-16 majority in the House on...

  • A need for change from the top down
    Sep 11, 2015 8:00 am

    A need for change from the top down

    Recent events have once again prompted me to dust off my copy of the Sage Report, Mr Editor.

    One of the recommendations in particular came to mind; the one that focused on the need for change from the top down. You know, leadership by example. It has been almost two years since the report and its recommendations were made public and, while I hate to say it, but I will, it is looking like opportunities squandered are now lost.

    The...

  • New approach needed to turn things around
    Sep 4, 2015 8:00 am

    New approach needed to turn things around

    There was a time when people simply trusted their governments with the really big decisions. Those were times when people also had little choice or option. But this isn’t so much the case these days, Mr Editor. In fact, those “olden” days are long gone — and rightly so.

    It isn’t just their votes that people want to exercise. It is also their right to know and their right to have an opinion and to express it. Advances in technology have...

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