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Hints to be taken from across the pond

Heeding the call: Boris Johnson ultimately did the right thing in announcing his departure as prime minister (Photograph by Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

There are few times when I give credit to the Westminster system of governance, but the swift ability to change leaders when the time warrants as happened with Boris Johnson can’t be beaten — unlike the United States, where it can be a lengthy process even with glaring facts. However, in Britain, just as in the US, the integrity of fellow politicians is highly relied upon.

When leaders are involved in scandal after scandal, there comes a point when enough is enough. The other observation is that when leaders do this, it reflects on the rest of the members when they say nothing. This happened under Johnson, which nearly destroyed the Conservative Party — and along with it the country.

If Johnson’s case reveals another thing, it will be that when there are one or two resignations it does nothing because they can be easily replaced. But when there are multiple resignations, it is impossible for a leader to continue because the public become too enraged and will argue why replace a batch get rid of the leader.

Can Bermuda take note or are we another world? It’s like the song Blowin’ In The Wind, where the lyrics ask, "how many times must the cannon balls fly before they are forever banned?“ How many lies are told and how many doubts are cast before it is determined the path trodden is possibly wrong? This is not a question for today; it’s a forever question that will remain in perpetuity as long as we have a government. The reality is that everyone in government is jointly accountable for the integrity of governance.

I ate supper with an elderly Black gentleman who is now 80 and was once a formidable businessman from a family with strong Bermuda roots. He shared with me that he once wanted to be premier. In my mind, I acknowledged I had similar sentiments about 30 years ago, so I shared with him that was the reason I joined the United Bermuda Party in and around 1990, when I naively thought I could become premier. The commonality is this gentleman has enough selfhood to take to his feet and stand for what he believes is for the good of the entire community. This story is relayed also because leadership sets the tone for moral authority in the community. If the leaders cannot set a standard, they should not expect it from the community — the youth in particular.

We have elected people who for the most part have demonstrated a lack of personal selfhood and dignity, and whose status can be determined by a paycheque. That is why it is better for the country when the leaders are self-sufficient and have independent means, or are ascetic people who give and serve altruistically. When leadership becomes the instrument to an opportunity for upward mobility, it ceases as a function for good public service or to perform in the interest of the public.

Boris Johnson in his resignation as Prime Minister of Britain re-emphasised that he stepped aside and that good governance would prevail. He did the right thing. Any leader that understands that the country comes first should take heed.

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Published July 15, 2022 at 7:59 am (Updated July 14, 2022 at 12:01 pm)

Hints to be taken from across the pond

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