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Private parties that govern our future

If there is one thing we ought to know, but find we know very little of, it is the Progressive Labour Party’s delegates conference. For most, it is a mysterious “other event” held by the PLP each year. We dance around the fact that parties are not legislated bodies but private entities. Yet it is these are private entities that control the government purse, and there should be some level of accountability and oversight. There should also be a Bill of Rights which each member can rely on and which ensures they are all equal, even if just within the party.

The 1960s was a turbulent era for political philosophy; there were matters of subjugation, racial segregation and a host of grievances that pushed activists into various modes, including communism because, in the words of some, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Geoffrey Bing was a British barrister-at-law and a member of the Labour Party for at least ten years. He was radical and very much a leftist, along with a few other colleagues, who were infamously called the “Bing Boys”. He eventually went to Ghana to become the attorney-general for Kwame Nkrumah.

David Burt, the Premier and leader of the Progressive Labour Party, launches a recent delegates conference. This year’s event, when the positions of leader and deputy leader are at stake, is much anticipated (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Given the time, and knowing London and many of our budding politicians at that time such as Dame Lois Browne-Evans and Roosevelt Brown (Pauulu Kamarakafego PhD), it should come as no surprise that Geoffrey and his wife would come to Bermuda. What he left as a contribution was the PLP constitution, which he had huge a hand in crafting.

The PLP stalled and fragmented in its early days, but had it succeeded then, what we see as a remnant of that constitution would have been the governing way. The country would have been ordered along the lines of that constitution, which is not too different from how China governs itself today.

That system gives absolute power to the party, which is run by a central committee. The branches today are small and weak, some barely having enough paid members — so they group with other districts to form an effective number. The system in essence discards the people, even those who have for decades religiously supported the party with their vote. There is the innate fear that if the majority had the right to participate, they would lose central control.

Let’s examine a few things that should concern everyone. The country is in turmoil and a little more than 100, most of whom no one knows, will decide the fate of not just the party, but the country's leadership.

There will be a speakers’ night where the contestants will have two speeches each stating their case about the country and the party, and the delegates will choose. The conclusion will be a challenge for deputy leader, whose contestants will have one speech.

Out of this design, presumably, the leader and deputy leader of the country will emerge — unless something out of the ordinary happens. I bet Joe Public would love to hear those speeches; in fact, it should be a right and a requirement for those speeches to be broadcast. In this meeting, they will be talking about shaping the island. They will put in office the one in charge, and you don’t even get to hear the vision.

It is a private party, folks, and the business of the day is being handled like a toybox for the empowered.

Money talks in various circles and the word is the Fairmont Southampton is a done deal now. We should be happy to at least know about it. I remember about six months ago when Curtis Dickinson resigned as Minister of Finance because he did not like the pace and pleas for patience to deal with a few wrinkles that needed to be ironed out. Now it is six months later, did those wrinkles clear up or did we give up more?

I was expecting an announcement early this week. Is the Premier waiting for a special day? He is known for grand and auspicious appearances. Covid-19 was one such appearance and my own apprehensions say this could be another of those grand appearances. But I could be wrong, as they always seem to marry with an election of some sort. In any event, it seems that the rush six months ago that Dickinson decried was going to take its own sweet time — and it did.

I would rather see Fairmont Southampton open than closed as it is, but at the same time Bermuda needs to get a good deal because we need it.

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Published August 25, 2022 at 7:51 am (Updated August 25, 2022 at 7:51 am)

Private parties that govern our future

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