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Putting the establishment on notice

Dear Sir,

I am taking the time to write to the people of my beloved island home — God's country, the crown jewel of the Atlantic — which I miss and will forever be true to.

I have not travelled back to Bermuda for seven years because I feel that in our home too much time is spent on worrying about race, inequality and righting the wrongs of the past, and white privilege. Not to mention other issues that I went through personally at the hands of certain people.

I left Bermuda to live in Britain. Here, same problems, different day, different environment. Same political opposition, same political bureaucracy. Two political parties that have the majority of control in the House of Commons, although they have parties such as the Liberal Democrats and Green Party that will never lead this nation.

It was a welcome surprise when, on the eve of the election, Marc Bean, Kyle Bridgewater and others have started a new political party, Free Democratic Movement, which has spoken about inclusion. To me, this means that all will be included and that all people — no matter their race, ethnic background, religious beliefs or sexual preference — will be part of the solution.

I am a lifelong Progressive Labour Party supporter and respect the ideology and whence it came. It is not as if I supported its entire mandate and agreed with all its decisions but I followed the party blindly, despite knowing that a lot of its views were not always based on the right decisions for Bermuda, but rather payback for the wrongs of the past.

We cannot change history through legislation, nor will we ever become the Bermuda that each citizen deserves if we continuously look at the past to lead us forward.

Please do not take this as an endorsement for the United Bermuda Party or the new One Bermuda Alliance because you have failed the majority of Bermuda for years since party politics began. You figured you had an inalienable right to lead the nation based on your Eurocentric views and the ilk of your skin. You failed to recognise that it was the blood, sweat and tears of others of African descent that built Bermuda into what it is today.

Although you had tolerance for us and even had black faces as Members of Parliament who very seldom viewed their own as equals. The master, the law of divide and conquer gave you power for years and you held on to it because many were fearful of a country led by people who looked like me. However, things changed and the majority ruled. But to what extent?

I am not against the PLP, nor will I ever say that it has never done a good job based on its ideology. However, I dealt with many Cabinet ministers in my time as the chairman of the Prison Officers Association, and the rhetoric they spewed was unquenchable. Knowledge of issues and understanding of the problems we faced were beyond their comprehension. They cannot be faulted because you can never understand something you do not live — thus one of the biggest flaws in Bermuda politics.

As intellectually sound individuals, they where unable to grasp what my officers lived through daily. Same with the OBA and UBP. I once was on the hill and advised the people that the Government is the people, so no matter if you are black or white, they are accountable to you, not the other way around.

Parliamentarians must understand that you are elected by the people and for the people, it is not based on colour or creed. I have had the good fortune to sit at the table with Dame Lois Browne-Evans, spoke to Sir John Swan and I can tell you this: many years ago I was a young university graduate and this was the time the UBP wanted to go for independence and Sir John, on talking to him, convinced me to vote for independence despite the PLP's opposition to it.

I can attest I voted for nationhood. I will not divulge what he said, but it was profound, and I always respected him for that. He was a true statesman and to this day one of my favourite Bermuda leaders, regardless of his affiliation with the UBP.

I still never voted for the UBP, but liked him as an individual. I still admire Ewart Brown, although many did not like him, but he stood on what he believed in despite of it all.

However, to this day, I am looking for a Bermuda that becomes politically mature, one that puts the people first, a country where your colour means little — it is your ability that counts.

I hate to see unqualified people in positions of influence in the Civil Service who have no justification nor the qualifications for being there, but their political affiliation or social network carry the weight. I do admire the leadership of David Burt as Premier of Bermuda — young, aggressive and assertive. He has led Bermuda admirably through the pandemic.

However, political maturity is what I am looking for. An example of this would be for the government of the day to have opposition members sit in the Cabinet. In the United States, a Democratic president has Republicans in Cabinet and vice versa.

I am not a scholar of the Westminster system and I am not certain that it is unlawful, but it would seem to me that because Cabinet is sworn to secrecy this would be an extension of inclusion so the petty politics could stop and the people's work begin.

I may just be politically naïve but I am mature enough to know that just because you are the Opposition it does not mean you do not have good ideas.

I may not be in Bermuda, but I look to return one day in the distant future. To grow as a nation, I would want Bermuda to be a sovereign nation. I support independence and nationhood in the future one day — maybe not now, but one day.

I believe if we had gone to independence, the landscape of our island would be different. This would have brought our people closer together because we would need each other even more. The respect level between people of different colours would be different because we need each other to survive.

The FDM may just be the silver lining because now we have a choice; the two major political parties will now have to pay closer attention to dealing with the people's business and putting the petty historical nonsense in the past.

Marc Bean, I support your concept with the new party putting the old guard on notice. Times are changing. This is not an endorsement but you are serving notice — it is time that votes cannot be taken for granted.

CRAIG R. CLARKE

England

Former chairman of Prison Officers Association

Former president of Devonshire Recreation Club

New voice at the top table ... sort of: Marc Bean and his Free Democratic Movement have shaken up the atmosphere around Election 2020 and given a pointer to the future, even if immediate prospects are slim (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published September 19, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated September 19, 2020 at 8:58 am)

Putting the establishment on notice

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