Record suggests Bean is not a martyr
In Monday’s lead column “More to Bean than meets the eye”, Nicolette Reiss proposes that Marc Bean, the Opposition Leader, is a genuine reformer, and she proposes that the challenges to his leadership come from those who have been less than honest with the Bermuda voter.
Although her primary focus was the integrity of “three seasoned politicians who have never been the poster boys for transparency, straight talking and exposing their own vulnerabilities”, she also called into question the integrity of David Burt, the Public Accounts Committee chairman and Acting Opposition Leader, for carrying out a “farce” of an investigation into the Port Royal contract. So, is St Marc a martyr of good governance or not? Well, the answer to that question can only be found by looking at his entire record of performance as Opposition Leader. And, it’s on this point that Reiss initially gave me great pause: “I read a year’s worth of content, watching interviews and committee meetings, and then summarised what I had gleaned because this information is not easily available to voters.”
If I’m interpreting this statement correctly, Reiss has excluded 2½ years of Bean’s performance from her analysis. This doesn’t quite seem reasonable to me, because that would mean ignoring the very behaviour that led up to the first report in July 2015 of efforts to remove him.
So, how were those prior 2½ years? Let’s consider his polling numbers for a start.
Between December 2013 and July 2014, the PLP was polling neck and neck with the OBA. Additionally, Bean’s personal favourability numbers hit 58 per cent, which is remarkably high.
By the end of 2014, however, polling took a dramatic turn for the worse. The November poll showed that the OBA had a seven-point lead over the PLP (OBA 40 per cent /PLP 33 per cent). Of far greater concern was that Bean’s favourability rating dropped to 30 per cent, and his personal performance rating was a dismal 28 per cent.
By the end of 2015, the OBA’s lead increased to 12 per cent (OBA 42 per cent/PLP 30 per cent). Further, while Dunkley’s favourability rating increased to 53 per cent, Bean’s plummeted by another nine points to 21 per cent. His job performance rating similarly fell by another eight points (Dunkley 48 per cent/Bean at 20 per cent).
Finally, let’s consider the June 2016 poll, which follows the tumultuous Pathways to Status protest. Predictably, the OBA suffered damage and the PLP experienced gains (OBA 38 per cent/PLP 36 per cent). However, Dunkley maintained a massive lead over Bean in both favourability (42 per cent/25 per cent) and performance (40 per cent/22 per cent).
To point out the obvious, despite the OBA’s massive own goals, the PLP has not been able to poll better than the OBA, and Bean’s personal polling numbers have been utterly dismal. Consequently, it should come as no surprise that there have been repeated attempts to remove Bean as party leader.
What’s the reason for the poor polling you may ask? Well, consider the following controversies and issues.
• Made irrational criminal allegations about Michael Dunkley.
• Set up a betting shop in an economic empowerment zone.
• Toxic debate over Jetgate.
• Lawsuits from Pettingill and Crockwell.
• The Nandi Davis recording.
• Conspiracy claims of his phones being tapped by the Governor/Police.
• The attack on Terry Lister.
• Exploited the Commission of Inquiry protest in an attempt to dissolve Parliament.
• Launched an “indefinite” boycott of the House of Assembly.
• Claimed that ganja tea cured his child’s asthma.
• The Constituency 31 attack on Toni Daniels.
• The misogynistic/homophobic radio interview.
• Threatened OBA members.
• Suspended from the House of Assembly.
• Irrational conspiracy claims about The Waterfront project.
• Attacks against the Speaker of the House, Randy Horton.
• Altercation with Sylvan Richards.
• Lost Dunkley defamation lawsuit.
• Hollow victory with the Toni Daniels lawsuit.
• Refused to speak out about Ayo Kimathi.
• Hit with legal action from Ewart Brown.
• Pathways protest demagoguery.
• Rejection of the Pathways deal.
• Questionable views on racial/economic equality.
Given all of the above, at least four other things need to be factored when considering Reiss’s martyr theory:
1, Bean’s leadership has not been challenged just by the three Reiss mentions, but by a broad spectrum of persons both within and without the PLP Shadow Cabinet.
2, Bean’s polling data is so bad, and the PLP’s track record on good governance is so poor, that Bean had little choice but to try to reboot his image as a good governance reformer.
3, When the seven MPs quit, the PLP told the public that the Shadow Cabinet was being reshuffled for efficiency purposes. There was no mention of resignations, which means that the Bean’s reshuffle claim was a complete farce.
4, Bean has had 3½ years to hold his MPs accountable for any wrongdoing, but he repeatedly presented the PLP as being without sin until after the public party split.
All things considered, I’m inclined to believe that this talk of ending “politics of plunder” is nothing more than a desperate political attempt to turn Bean’s fortunes around. Rather than this being a genuine effort to hold PLP MPs accountable, Bean is once again demonstrating his willingness to attack anyone in order to preserve his political position.
• To reach out to Bryant Trew, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org