Digging Bermuda’s grave
“Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and taking the politicians as a joke.”
The dispute raging between the Bermuda Industrial Union and the labour government was predictable to anyone following the events between them.
In my opinion piece, “Can we afford much more of David Burt’s leadership” on June 15, 2021, I predicted that their relationship would turn confrontational. On April 27, 2021, I wrote “Betrayal of the Bermudian worker”, which outlined how we would eventually end up where we are.
Many of us are thinking this issue is about “decertification” and who votes to determine the existence of the union in the workplace. I am suggesting that we look deeper and we will see that this is merely a smokescreen hiding the main issue.
There are many other issues we will be soon facing with disastrous consequences unless we fix our economy. When our economy has been mismanaged for most of the past two decades, the pressure causes a labour government to attack its own birthplace.
Years of job losses, declining value of our homes, business closures, mounting debt and deficit spending take their toll. It certainly doesn’t help that the Progressive Labour Party government failed to grow the economy before the pandemic; therefore we would be living in the matrix if we believe it will grow the economy after this catastrophic economic tsunami.
I invite you to go back and look at the PLP’s platform before it hurriedly called the election. It promised to deliver prosperity in spite of the pandemic, yet here we are. The only prosperity being provided is the rewards going to the Premier and party loyalists while dissenting voices are cut down and litter the sidewalk. It is obvious to see that the priority list to meet the needs of Bermudians is non-existent.
The PLP seems to have forgotten, or maybe it does not care, that a prosperous economy is the root of our heritage in Bermuda. We have always had a strong middle class, which has set our island apart and delivered a quality of life that made us proud to be Bermudian.
Constant and perpetual economic decline is now forcing difficult choices. Taxes are being raised, causing the cost of living to increase at a time when employment and economic opportunities are decreasing. Because of this, our quality of life is declining quickly.
I do not recall there ever being a time such as today when the prevailing condition of our island is hopelessness. There is a marked increase in financial, emotional and mental stress. Added to this is a significant increase in domestic abuse — especially to women and children.
The present crisis with the BIU is a head-scratcher unless we look deeper. The question keeps being raised: why would a labour government, led by a former labour president, choose a time like now to tackle an old labour issue and wage a war against the BIU?
The clear answer has to be the condition of the economy. Therefore, the only logical explanation is the PLP has inflicted a pre-emptive strike to weaken labour because unpopular decisions such as job cuts and benefits-slashing need to be made because our economy is anaemic and weak. Keep in mind that it has already inflicted prior cuts to pension benefits.
It sounds diabolical but I invite others to provide a better explanation. It is the worst kind of survivalist politics to the detriment of everyone except those few who stand to reap direct benefit. This kind of leadership is dangerous and disastrous for our country.
The PLP is digging a hole that we may never get out of. If it does not put an end to digging that hole, it will become Bermuda’s grave. Soon, the discourse will change from what we need to do to improve and save our country, to how will we get out of here for those who can afford to escape — much like we see occurring in Afghanistan.
“It’s the economy, stupid”.
I can think of nothing more important to the health of our democracy and the future of our country.
Let’s be honest. The PLP, under the leadership of David Burt, has had the luxury of unwavering party loyalty no matter what it does. It has been given a free pass on many occasions and the benefit of the doubt on countless others. It has been given the opportunity to straighten up and fly right over and over and over, but continues to fail Bermudians while enriching itself during a period it termed “shared sacrifice”.
This latest conflict with its birthplace, the BIU, is just the beginning of another phase of where Mr Burt’s leadership has led us. Bermuda, our window of opportunity is closing to do something about this by either changing the direction of our leadership or changing the leadership immediately.
• Vic Ball was a One Bermuda Alliance senator from November 2014 to July 2017, and more recently a candidate in the 2020 General Election in Smith's West (Constituency 9)