Leadership disaster ‒ end the suffering now
“Where there is no vision, the people perish”— Proverbs 29:18
Bermuda, what else needs to occur before David Burt’s leadership is declared an official national disaster? He has presided over blunders and failures that have cost the country and our people dearly.
Allow me to run off a small list of the never-ending stream of failures.
He promised to reduce the cost of living, but it has significantly increased. He is holding the tourism sector hostage with the Travel Authorisation form. There is a staggering 30 per cent unemployment among the youth. Cabinet ministers have resigned saying that his words cannot be trusted. A former Progressive Labour Party MP has called him the “master deceiver”, which speaks to his level of honesty, truthfulness and integrity.
Fintech and cryptocurrency have been an abysmal failure in creating anything meaningful for the island. In fact, what we have witnessed over and over is national and international scandals that ruin our blue-chip reputation. SafeKey was a national economic killer and it kept no one safe. The Premier states that his handling of Covid is one of his greatest achievements. However, Bermuda is ranked as one of the worst countries per capita with wave after wave of positive Covid cases and needless deaths.
Belco emissions are poisoning our people while he turns a blind eye. The education of our children is in peril. The roads and sidewalks are in poor condition. The prevailing mood in the country is hopelessness. Violent crime and gun violence is escalating out of control. He recently rushed through a $400 million relief package for his friends at Fairmont Southampton with nothing to show for it. While space does not permit me to continue, other commentators can add more.
Mr and Ms Bermuda, a country cannot and will not progress without leadership wins. If everything the leader touches blows up in his face, negatively impacts the country economically and socially or becomes a scandal, the country will inevitably suffer. Leadership failures are evidenced by the level of hardship among the people and the level of uncertainty faced in the country.
As it stands now, more and more residents are moving abroad to live. It is estimated that 10,000 people have left our shores for better opportunities abroad. Even the wealthy have bailed or are contemplating leaving the country to invest their money elsewhere. The number of business closures, vacant properties and commercial real estate for sale in Hamilton says it all.
Bermudians at the bottom are feeling increasingly hopeless, the middle class are becoming increasingly jobless while our properties are losing value. Even worse, many are losing properties that they have worked their whole lives for, while the leadership are living like kings and are able to purchase homes in the most affluent communities in Bermuda.
Bermudians are finding it increasingly difficult to feed themselves, their families and deciding what bills to pay as the cost of living skyrockets. Trips to the grocery store are more painful than ever before in living memory. Utility bills are escalating with people having to decide whether they will eat, keep the lights on, pay health insurance or pay for medication. This is especially harsh on our seniors and those with young children.
Even our civil servants must be feeling increasingly insecure as our $3 billion debt increasingly threatens the Government’s ability to make payroll in a struggling economy that the leadership continues to damage with poor decisions.
In a recent Royal Gazette column, “Where once we had the Forty Thieves”, from a fellow political commentator, he said the following of Mr Burt’s PLP leadership, “Put simply, the PLP in its existing form under its present administration, which can be linked to at least one other administration, is not just a failure of its original purpose and a disgrace to the Black Bermudian population but more likely it is the worst government that ever existed and parallel to any colonialist slave government because it is killing its own in the process while the only evidence of growth for the entire country is through its own wallet.”
Clearly feeling the pressure of his failures and the potential of a leadership challenge within his own party, the Premier took the unusual step of writing his own opinion piece on July 20, 2022 to proclaim his successes.
He started with the usual condescending tone by pretending to be humble in conceding that he has not got everything right, as if we should be gullible enough to excuse him because he gets most things right. He then launched into a self-praising diatribe while patting himself on the back about increasing seniors’ pensions. What he failed to mention is that it is by a mere pittance of less than $1.50 per day.
This is a perfect example and the worn-out tactic of the present leadership of the country. He will sing the praises of such a small gesture to our elders while inflation and the enormous cost of food, medicine and healthcare overwhelm them.
He continued with feel-good electioneering slogans about the policies and strategies he has launched, but he failed to mention that they have had no meaningful impact. Of course, he could not help but blame the One Bermuda Alliance for his failures and reiterated more empty promises for the future. Thankfully, the readership was not fooled, as the related comments spoke for themselves.
Just when we think his poor decisions could not get any worse, he has proposed to give a one-time payout to public school parents. This decision completely forgets about private school and homeschool parents. Are they not also taxpayers?
The $15 million stimulus, if wisely invested by a few local entrepreneurs, would result in hundreds of jobs in the economy. However, in the typical “brilliance of Burt”, he prefers a one-time payout, with borrowed money, rather than a sustained opportunity for employment and national advancement.
One would think that with the level of personal failure resulting in our nation’s continued demise, the leadership would reconsider its methods and attempt to make a change. However, recent reports suggest that Mr Burt has tried to amend the PLP’s constitution to prevent a leadership challenge from within the party, which is expected to take place in October. Clearly, his arrogance has no boundaries.
This is hopefully one of the final acts of a desperate and incompetent leader who believes in his own brilliance, although the evidence of failure after failure looks him squarely in the face every day. It is the hope and sentiment of most Bermudians to see the end of the worst premiership ever. It is the hope of Bermudians that the PLP would not only end the failed tenure of Mr Burt for the good of the party, but also for the benefit of the country.
Bermuda, we are past the tipping point and we simply can no longer sacrifice our country for David Burt’s disastrous leadership. The only solution is for him to fall on his sword and resign, or for him to be removed as the leader of the country to end what feels like a never-ending pain before any more significant damage can be done.
• 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)