Bermuda needs to hear from ‘the silent six’
"If God did not want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.” — Calvera, The Magnificent Seven
According to the storyline of the 1960 film The Magnificent Seven, seven men were hired to protect life and liberty from the self-styled big bad wolf, Calvera. Effectively, in political terms, to be the opposition. Although outnumbered, they stood up as men and did what they felt they had to.
Here in Bermuda, the closest thing that we have to a non-lethal "OK Corral", where one side squares off against another, is the House of Assembly.
Unlike in the movie, the Opposition, consisting of six members, never seems prepared to do much standing up in Parliament.
As a prime example, each month there is Premier’s Question Time (PQT), where the Opposition has an opportunity to ask any series of questions to the Premier for a total of up to one hour.
This is a golden opportunity for them to grill the Premier with no interruptions in order to get to the root of issues.
Yet often, far too often, the Opposition comes to Parliament unprepared to ask any questions.
The Opposition also has an opportunity during what is called Motion to Adjourn to put forward their positions on any given topic. Topics such as social issues, economic suggestions, ideological debates and/or constituency concerns.
However, once again, the Opposition is almost never prepared to utilise this time to say anything whatsoever.
If truth be told, almost the entire Opposition regularly logs out of the online session, long before the House has concluded.
No points raised, no rebuttals to what government MPs are putting forward, no points of order.
Essentially, zip. Zero.
So, far from the "Magnificent Seven", the Opposition should be called the "Silent Six".
Every chess player studies their opponents’ moves to know when to counter-attack or when to make a move.
In studying the performance of the Opposition, it seems that they have taken a page out of the book of the Liberal Democrats, known as the Lib Dems, of the United Kingdom.
Rejected by the voters of the United Kingdom, the Lib Dems, with only 12 out of 650 seats in the House of Commons, are a non-voice in Westminster.
So from time to time, they use social media as their only platform.
Clearly the "Silent Six" are playing the same chess game, via crafted press releases or op-eds.
Ironically, the reading public scrutinises their written words that often backfire on them.
Granted, every political party should utilise the media as an avenue.
However, the fact remains that the "Silent Six" clearly cannot adequately rise to the occasion in Parliament in order to have open debates based on proper research.
As a prime example, on Friday, November 12, MP Michael Dunkley took to his feet to proclaim that the Government should loosen regulations surrounding Covid-19 as the worst had passed.
This was the same week that European countries began tightening regulations.
Clearly MP Dunkley was employing populism versus realism.
All is not lost.
To their credit, both Scott Pearman and Jarion Richardson tend to speak on finite technical points or clauses of a Bill, yet very rarely do they speak in an open debate on anything philosophical or ideological.
The question is: "How will Bermudians even know where they really stand on issues?"
The general public is being short-changed when they have representatives that prefer to be silent versus take firm positions or debate in Parliament.
To be quite honest, Bermuda is missing the dynamic debating ability of persons such as Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, Mark Pettingill, Sylvan Richards and the late Shawn Crockwell.
Bermuda should demand more from the "Silent Six“.
Christopher Famous is the Progressive Labour Party MP for Devonshire East