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David Burt’s high-flying act is running out of air

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“Bad leadership is like a flat tyre. It is very hard to go anywhere until you change it” — Unknown

Reign unravelling: David Burt, the Premier, has had to contend with an embarrassing series of faux pas (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Bermuda, in my last opinion, I clearly outlined Bermuda’s economic and political position as it stands under David Burt’s leadership. It was a painfully easy argument to make.

The reality is that most of us can feel the quality of our lives slipping away. Bermuda is small enough for us to see once-thriving hotels with their doors shut. We see empty stores where flourishing businesses used to operate. As we drive around, we can see that roofs are not so white and homes are not being painted. Once-proud homeowners need to decide on paying for groceries or keeping the lights on after paying the mortgage.

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)

We know of friends and family that have lost their homes and tenants that are falling behind in their rent. Opportunities to find work is difficult. Even our educated children are not returning home because employment opportunities are limited. Our children leaving high school cannot afford university fees and, to make matters worse, they cannot find work, either.

We can all sense the depressed mood of once-bustling Hamilton, St George and Dockyard. The prices of our basic necessities are dramatically increasing while wages and job opportunities are decreasing. The worrisome gap between the two Bermudas that the Progressive Labour Party used to provoke for political purposes, now it brazenly contributes to widening it.

We do not need economic data or crime statistics to tell us what we already know and feel. Bermuda is in a downward spiral and we all know it.

As our social and economic situation worsens, Mr Burt has provided no leadership by way of offering us any solutions to give any hope of improvement. There is no significant inward or foreign investment for building projects. There is virtually no increase in immigration, nor is there any hint of lower interest rates from the banking sector, as the PLP pledged to do.

Fanciful ideas such as cryptocurrency, fintech, using pension funds for co-operatives and a space industry are mentioned for political effect, but are discarded by the wayside like their election-campaign promise of a living wage and reducing the cost of living.

Unfortunately, when the PLP faces this kind of criticism, it responds to Bermudians by chest-beating deflections about its supermajority in the House and begging for a diversionary fight from the Opposition. Its famous response is, where are the solutions from the Opposition?

I will now offer the most obvious and clearly unavoidable solution: change the PLP leadership! Oust David Burt and his failed leadership.

Bermuda has seen many premiers abruptly changed during their term. As a country, we are very familiar with changing premiers when it is warranted. We have seen it happen in the One Bermuda Alliance, United Bermuda Party, and the PLP is no stranger to this process.

It appears that under Mr Burt’s leadership there are only a few people who are benefiting handsomely while the rest of the country be damned as we suffer the consequences of poor decision after poor decision. This is the same premier that coined the phrase “shared sacrifice”, but exactly who is sharing the sacrifice?

Ordinarily, a leader with such a huge majority in a time of crisis would come up with an innovative and bold solution that offers hope. However, under Mr Burt’s leadership style, it is: “allow the crisis to continue”. It appears that he is saying to Bermudians: suck it up and continue to suffer in silence.

My next point should be an eye-opener as to who David Burt truly is and his true concern for the majority of Black Bermudians, especially the PLP supporter. The PLP was founded in 1963 to fight discrimination and segregation, and many countless times Mr Burt and his MPs remind us of the damaging effects that discrimination had economically and socially to the Black population of Bermuda.

However, under Mr Burt’s leadership, he shamelessly promotes unvaccinated segregation and discrimination against his own people, causing them to lose homes, fall behind in their rent and in meeting their daily financial expenses and obligations.

The untold damage to mental health and stress leads to all sort of abuse in the home. But the Premier turns his back on thousands of Bermudians with a significant number of those being the core supporters of the PLP. Our eyes and ears will be tuned in on February 4, when the House of Assembly is back from its winter break, to see if this hypocritical, segregationist and discriminatory policy continues or ceases immediately.

Our failed tourism, health and education ministers have us experiencing Covid Wave No 4 while our children and parents are having their lives disrupted again. The United States has publicly cited Bermuda as a destination that travellers should avoid. The head of our Covid testing has resigned because of the Government’s failure to provide her with the necessary resources to do the job. All of this occurred while the three ministers were on holiday off island. Is this what they mean by “shared sacrifice”?

After the early fluke of controlling infections in the beginning of the pandemic and calling the snap election, Mr Burt has provided poor leadership and decision-making ever since. Continuous shutdowns and restrictions have crippled the education of our children, damaged employment opportunities and decreased business revenue. We have unnecessarily racked up preventable deaths and record infections. The results of his continued poor leadership deliver constant, lethal blows to an already battered economy.

Even after all of this, Mr Burt still appears to be convincing the country that his party is our only choice and he is the best person in the PLP ranks to be the Premier. He leads us to believe that the PLP has no one else in its fold better than him. Unfortunately, it appears, he is right because no one in his party is prepared to offer the country a better alternative. Does this speak volumes regarding the other 29 PLP MPs? Silence and inaction speak louder than words at this time. Looking at the PLP field, has his influence on them made this an undeniable fact?

While he remains unchallenged doing what he has always done, the rest of us will continue to pay the ultimate price.

The Premier and the PLP’s diehard commenters inevitably will say that my words are an obvious attempt to divide and conquer. They will likely launch some other form of personal attack. However, in Bermuda’s present dreadful state, my words better qualify as a plea for the internal mechanisms of the PLP to save Bermuda from David Burt’s failed leadership.

• 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)

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Published January 28, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated January 27, 2022 at 9:28 pm)

David Burt’s high-flying act is running out of air

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