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A big challenge for Bermuda

In the game of chess, one wrong move at a critical stage can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

No political thermometer is needed to determine that election fever is rising as political exchanges gain momentum, in an atmosphere of doubt and confusion throughout much of the electorate.

Over the years a number of controversial issues pertaining to the Government spending process, has left the Progressive Labour Party Government, with an enormous challenge in overcoming negative perceptions over how they have conducted the peoples business. The spending process of the previous administration is believed by many to have contributed to the financial state Bermuda now finds itself.

It is not a question of trying to demean or belittle anyone, but there is concern that many of the key political players during that period, are seeking yet another bite at the apple. No doubt the current administration is fully aware of this, and should realise that labelling anti Government views as simply coming from disgruntled critics, carries a risk.

No one should be fearful of being critical of Governments past performance. That is a democratic right, which the Government in the true spirit of democracy, should fully support.

In our small society, it is easy to talk with people on both sides to assess mood changes about the political state of Bermuda .

The demise of the United Bermuda Party as a political force, did not occur over night. Many of their avid supporters knew something was wrong, but Party leaders seemed dreadfully out of touch with shifting public sentiments. Meanwhile the once powerful political party in its role as opposition became weaker and weaker. In politics, it usually boils down to how the people perceive you, rather than how you perceive yourself.

It is unwise in politics to take the electorate for granted, since voters can make or break any politician. That in itself must be a concern to both the ruling Progressive Labour Party, and the new Opposition, One Bermuda Alliance, who are not only endeavouring to make their presence felt, but also are hoping to form the next Government.

The OBA with a combination of new and old faces, many from the collapsed UBP, have the dubious task of electing a leader they hope will help them break through the barrier of scepticism in order to connect with the people lock, stock, and barrel. Quite a task.

It is mainly for this reason, that the OBA in choosing a leader could face that chess game dilemma. The person selected in that party's first leadership election next month, should clearly represent a fresh determined approach in reaching out to people from all sections of the community, and be willing to make bold changes in the way our business is conducted.

Selection should never be based on popularity within the new party, but whether or not that person has the persona to penetrate the minds and souls of the electorate. Bermudians are so deeply worried about serious issues that linger from year to year, that they are also wary of fancy political statements from either political party, as we drift deeper into economic doldrums that place great stress on family life. Job losses through the economic downturn have been such that many who are still working, do so in the shadow of uncertainty, not knowing whether their turn is next. These include good citizens with responsibilities, many of them struggling single parents with children.

While no Government can solve all of our problems, they should be seen to lead in a way that leaves no doubt that the needs of every citizen, especially our seniors, is their highest priority. Instead, there is a perception that to really benefit, one needs to be in the inner circle of power.

That maybe considered grossly unfair, but it is a perception nevertheless. It would also be a great mistake for the OBA to focus too much on Government blunders. The voters really want to know clearly what the OBA intends to offer, and not so much where others have failed.

Our politicians must come to grips with the fact that most Bermudians want fairness and transparency from authorities of the day. Many feel too much of the tax payers money has been used unwisely, especially on consultants for this or that task, as though we are incapable of thinking for ourselves. It is accepted that there will be times when foreign expertise is required and most Bermudians have no problem with that. However most feel that should be the exception.

Looking ahead, the big challenge for the electorate, is to decide which political team seems capable of moving Bermuda in a new direction in order to regain confidence and pride which has been shattered in recent years.

Our social infrastructure remains under threat from the effects of illegal drugs, crime, and too many disturbed young people with little respect for themselves, or anyone else. It is certainly not a time for political games. Bermuda can be saved, but only if the people speak with a greater voice in demanding more responsible leadership.

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Published August 22, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated August 22, 2011 at 10:53 am)

A big challenge for Bermuda

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