How much more can we take?
“It is easier to fool people than it is to convince them that they have been fooled”— Mark Twain
Hindsight always affords us the opportunity to see precisely why David Burt cunningly rushed back to the polls in a snap election two years early in 2020. Had he not taken personal and political advantage of a global pandemic and a badly unprepared opposition, this would have been the year Bermuda returned to the polls.
The end result of this self-serving, political smoke-and-mirrors deception is plain now for everyone to see. Bermuda and Bermudians are suffering terribly under Burt’s leadership. Media reports suggest that he will face strong headwinds inside his own party challenging his disastrous leadership at the October delegates conference.
The clear and obvious reason for the challenge is simply that, other than Burt and the benefactors around him, the country is suffering under his leadership — regretfully, there is no end in sight.
The Progressive Labour Party, under Burt’s leadership, cannot get anything right. The country is running on empty promises with skyrocketing cost of living and failed economic experiments such as cryptocurrency and virtual banking. The public education of our children is lagging, healthcare costs are too high for those that need it most, electricity cost is through the roof, while a blind eye is turned as they pollute the water supply of their neighbours. There is the mismanaged pandemic, which has killed far too many Bermudians, excessive taxation, a decimated tourism sector that employs a significant number of the Black middle class, crushing debt and on and on.
Amid this circus of leadership, there is talk of going independent because Britain’s treaty obligations prevented the cannabis Bill from Royal Assent. If this wasn’t enough, the PLP is now telling us that we need more than 8,000 additional workers in the island over the next few years to add to our collapsed economy because of our population decline under, you guessed it, PLP governance.
Self-confessed “union thug” Jason Hayward — the former Bermuda Public Services Union president while serving as a PLP senator, now turned PLP Cabinet minister — was chosen to deliver the news. What he has not told us is what jobs are these 8,000 workers coming to do. The same hypocrites who shut down government over this issue when it served them politically, and then stonewalled the issue for many more years after, are now admitting through that announcement that the One Bermuda Alliance was correct ..., again.
Mr and Ms Bermuda, the main point of this announcement is being missed again. Without a growing economy, how will these people coming here improve the quality of our lives? Please don’t let them fool you to say, ‘let people in and the economy will magically grow’. If that were the case, all we have to do is to ask America for 8,000 Mexicans pouring across its borders that it does not know what to do with. I am sure they would be more than happy to oblige us.
So, David Burt and Jason Hayward, please share the PLP plan to grow the economy to handle 8,000 new workers. We are all waiting to hear it.
But, wait, there’s more!
I attended the Labour Day celebrations this year with other OBA members and MPs. The mood was anything but celebratory. It was all but conceded that under the failed leadership of Mr Burt, the country is in dire straits and the economy is in its worse state in recent history, which compounds the challenges and the plight of workers.
One union leader spoke of her wrongful dismissal that was recently overturned. Another spoke of the deplorable and disgraceful conditions of workers in the prison system, and the Bermuda Industrial Union president reminded all listening that the problems facing Bermuda 50 years ago are not only still present but made worse by incompetent PLP leadership despite a 30-6 majority in the House of Assembly. This, as a reminder, is all taking place under PLP governance that supposedly supports labour.
What was not said but was echoed loudly by the mood of those in attendance is that the plight of labour has been derailed by the PLP. One brave lady held a sign up sharing the views of many in attendance, and the country at large — “Get Burt Out”.
Neither the Premier, Mr Hayward nor any PLP MP, all of whom were in attendance, dared to even address the crowd this year.
The result of another crafty move by Mr Burt to co-opt the labour movement by taking a sitting BPSU president and making him a PLP senator and then ultimately rewarding him with a ministerial portfolio is now plain to see. The labour movement and the workers are made to suffer while the PLP leadership benefits economically.
The lesson to be learnt is that when we neglect economic growth and focus on divisive and racial politics, individuals win for a time, but ultimately the country loses. The greatest problem facing our nation is the sorry state of a PLP-ruined economy overcome by escalating cost and declining wages.
Instead of setting his sights on growing the economy for the benefit of all Bermudians, the Premier is resorting to the same trickery of calling a snap election in 2020 to stack the deck in his favour at the delegates conference in October.
Bermuda, just when we thought it could not get any worse, we have learnt that the cruise industry will not send ships to the island during our shoulder season because Mr Burt insists that we will have the Travel Authorisation Form in place until March 2023. Bermuda just lost out on millions in tax revenue and the deflated tourism industry has lost out on millions more.
But no one will lose their job or be held accountable — and, what is worse, the people who stand to miss out on the much needed revenue for their family will continue to suffer in silence.
Hopefully, the sentiments and desire of the country will be granted to the people and new PLP leadership is provided. If not, unfortunately for the country and for our future, we will be committed to “PLP all the way, all the way PLP” to economic devastation and social ruin. The obvious results will be more violent crime, the deepening of class and racial division, and civil unrest.
The obvious answer to the question to the title of this opinion piece is that we can no longer take any more.
The first step is to get rid of the monumental failure of Mr Burt’s leadership in October. Then we need the implementation of policies to grow the economy in a way that instils hope and benefits Bermudians. We need to end the deceptive and divisive politics, and move towards a brighter future based on the merits of the nation’s achievements.
We cannot take any more of David Burt’s efforts to deceive the population. The colossal and titanic failure of his leadership needs to end.
• 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)