Return of the ‘compassionate conservative’
You may remember that I ran in the 2012 election as an independent candidate. I ran on the platform of liberal socio-capitalism, which was a popular political term of the time.
I later realised it meant little to most voters in Bermuda. A friend later described my manifesto as being that of a compassionate conservative; ie, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, and let’s care for others who need support along the way.
I’ve been thinking about that more in the context of this year’s election results. With the term “compassionate conservative” ringing in my ears, I had a little epiphany.
It seems to me that the United Bermuda Party and One Bermuda Alliance always intended to represent all of Bermuda; hence “United Bermuda” or “One Bermuda Alliance”. The Progressive Labour Party has not. The words “Progressive” and, to a lesser degree, “Labour” well describe the path the PLP has taken. And that is key in understanding the PLP’s success and the UBP or OBA’s failure in winning over the electorate.
Voters want a party that is for them, not one that says it is for everybody. So I thought about the counterpoint to “Progressive” and realised that it is “Conservative”, and that it may be what is needed for our Westminster system to start to work effectively again.
Perhaps we need a Bermuda Conservative Party that will represent the people of Bermuda that don’t want change for change’s sake.
One that will take thoughtful, deliberate steps to protecting what we have achieved fiscally and socially over the years, whether that be in international business, family values, tourism, human rights or our environment.
One that preserves the values of our churches and their congregations while respecting and honouring the differences in our communities that make up the fabric of Bermuda.
After all, isn’t being conservative something we as a nation prides ourselves on? When tourists visit Bermuda and wonder why we don’t have fast-food joints on every corner, or neon billboards everywhere, or skyscrapers, don’t we as a country almost unilaterally puff out our conservative chests and reply, “Well, that’s what makes Bermuda special”?
Well, almost all of us … perhaps not the “Progressives”. And that’s the point. I for one don’t want a UBP or an OBA or a PLP to represent me. I want a Bermuda Conservative Party, to represent me and the aspects of Bermuda that frankly I adore, and want to protect.
I suspect I’m not alone in that wish.