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Choosing a leader: compare and contrast

Membership of the Progressive Labour Party is an open door. There is a simple online form that can be filled out in less than ten minutes. One can opt for a three-year membership for $25 or a lifetime membership for $100.

There are no committee meetings, secret tests, oaths or obligations to become a member.

Chosen one: Jarion Richardson, the new Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Members can attend branch meetings, party meetings, and the annual delegates conference. There they can freely voice their concerns or suggestions. Anyone attending these meetings can attest that opinions and counter-opinions are never in short supply. No one is stifled from saying what is truly on their mind.

When it comes to the issue of internal elections, the beauty of bottom-up democracy comes into play.

All existing members are branch members in whichever constituency they reside. For example, if one lived in Devonshire Bay, they would be a member of Constituency 11, Devonshire East.

Each branch holds meetings to discuss local and national issues. Likewise, each branch makes its own decisions as to who will run as candidates in that constituency, and who it wishes to see at party executive levels.

Imagine that, any given member can go to their branch meeting and freely voice their opinion.

Once the branch holds its own vote as to whom it supports, it then chooses delegates to send to the annual delegates conference.

Effectively, every member that wishes to say who they want running the party has multiple avenues to do so.

At the annual delegates conference, those delegates cast their votes, as per branch decisions, on each position on the executive, inclusive of deputy chair, party chair, deputy leader and party leader. The dates of the delegates conference are publicly known well in advance and all members can attend.

Coincidently, the media are always present outside the conference.

Secret cabal

In contrast, the One Bermuda Alliance recently “appointed” a new deputy leader. One would be hard-pressed to recall any prior public announcement of members going to branch meetings or delegates conference to cast their votes.

A look at the OBA constitution shows the following:

“Article 2: Activities and Membership

2.5 Membership is by application to the Executive Committee (the “Executive”). An applicant for membership will complete and sign an application confirming that the applicant agrees with our principles and will pursue our objectives”.

So, at the very first hurdle, membership is based solely on the will of the Executive Committee. Would that be considered open democracy or central control?

Going further, we see this:

“Article 3: General Conference and Special Conference

3.1 The OBA may hold a General Conference annually as determined by the Executive. General Conference may be open to non-OBA members, but only OBA members in good standing may vote at General Conference.

3.2 The business of General Conference will be to receive reports from the OBA officers, to receive the OBA’s accounts and, every two years, to vote on OBA Chair and OBA Deputy Chairs and, every four years, to vote on the OBA Leader and OBA Deputy”.

Does anyone recall any public announcement of the OBA having a General Conference or members being able to cast a vote for OBA leadership?

Compare and contrast

One party has membership open to all via online forms. The other party demands that membership is via a committee only.

One party holds annual conferences. The other party “may” hold a conference.

One party is open about leadership contenders and the process to choose leaders. The other party “announces” leaders.

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or e-mail at carib_pro@yahoo.com

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Published September 02, 2022 at 7:45 am (Updated September 02, 2022 at 7:34 am)

Choosing a leader: compare and contrast

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