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Uneven political playing field created

Dear Sir,

The very mistaken notion that the Progressive Labour Party represents Bermudians, and the One Bermuda Alliance does not, creates a very uneven political playing field in a number of ways.

One of them is in press coverage of the day's news.

Many people have commented, for example, on the way ZBM single-mindedly chases stories that its reporters think show the OBA in a poor light, wringing every drop of hostility they can get from the PLP, the People's Campaign, the unions and others who have some kind of oar in Bermuda's political waters.

But when the OBA manages to score a point or two, the story gets a mention, then disappears.

Reporters and editors and those who run blogs are so anxious not to show any kind of bias against the PLP and its followers that they bend over backwards to give their point of view in full — and then maybe just a little more, for safety's sake.

The OBA? Less so. I don't say they do this deliberately — with most of them, I think, it's done subconsciously.

But one way or another, this bending over backwards creates and perpetuates two versions of political news in Bermuda.

One derives from what the press says went on; the other from the reality of what went on.

Let me give you a couple of examples. Take the court case that allowed people with Permanent Resident's Certificates to apply for Bermuda status. The PLP says it was an OBA plot to increase the number of foreigners taking bread out of the mouths of Bermudians and voting for the OBA.

That is a fiction that is repeated almost every time the PLP or its supporters talk or write about it. The truth is that the PLP itself created the wording of the legislation that allowed people to apply for status and the OBA was powerless to shut the door once it had been opened.

The PLP knows that. Marc Bean himself acknowledged it last June in a column written for a media outlet, when he said: “It was certainly not the intent of the former government to open the door to Bermudian status for thousands of non-Bermudians and their children. We acknowledge and apologise to the people of Bermuda for this error and pledge that we will do what we can to rectify this issue.”

Don't expect to hear a lot about that confession in the media. No, they like the version that has the villainous OBA stroking its oily moustache as it counts all its new votes, despite knowing that is as much a fiction as an episode of Dastardly and Muttley.

Take the airport arrangement. It is quite extraordinary that Bob Richards should have found a way to get us a new, expensive airport without adding anything to our national debt, with guarantees of the project being finished on time and on budget, creating hundreds of jobs for Bermudians. He should get a medal.

But when was the last time you saw the story couched like that in the local media? What has carried the headlines since the deal was announced has been the PLP drumbeat of corruption, unfairness, selling out Bermudians and other behaviour befitting demonic practitioners of the dark arts, as Opposition leader Marc Bean describes the OBA.

At least that was true until a few days ago, when David Burt seemed to withdraw his opposition, and opted instead for simply saying that the deal had to be done responsibly, the way the Brits want it done. Is that about-face going to change the story at all? Will any of the media at least ask him what changed his mind? Will Bob Richards emerge from villainhood and take his rightful place in front of the Queen at Buckingham Palace?

Don't hold your breath.

DEPRESSED

Causing controversy: Legislation that allowed those with a Permanent Resident Certificate to apply for status was written by the PLP, as confirmed by Opposition Leader Marc Bean, above, but it has been blamed on an OBA plot to increase the number of foreigners, one reader writes (File photograph)

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Published August 03, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated August 03, 2015 at 1:46 am)

Uneven political playing field created

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