At the mercy of a select few
The contest officially begins now after much speculation that Curtis Dickinson would throw his hat in the ring for leadership. Given there are at least two years left in this term, it is more than a party leadership matter; it’s about who will potentially be the next leader of the country to preside over those remaining years.
In The Royal Gazette this week, the Progressive Labour Party claims 150 delegates will cast a vote; therefore, it will take a majority of 76 as the magic number that determines who leads. This writer got blasted a week or so ago for saying less than 100 would decide who leads the party; please forgive me, as I gave a magic number of 25 less. That there is such a small percentage of the population, and of the electorate, making such a crucial decision is not the only issue; the question that loom are, what kind of leader does all of Bermuda need at this stage? And, is it not a tragedy in 2022, with an issue of national significance that such a small number rather than the electorate has the privilege of making that determination? With glaring naivety, one party official said in response to Mr Dickinson’s challenge: “It shows that democracy is alive and well in the party.”
The party is unashamed in saying that this is an internal issue, happily laying claim to privacy. This while 44 per cent of the electorate wants none of what they see with the PLP or One Bermuda Alliance, as per the 2020 election turnout. With 44 per cent, it leaves 56 per cent of the electorate to be shared between the two parties, with the PLP having the majority of that.
As time has evolved, the PLP is becoming a shrinking phenomenon that has lost touch with society. When we watch things such as the Labour Day march, we see old faces who have marched since the 1980s and continue to do so. But for the PLP being the Government, the vibrancy of a former movement has long died. The party needs to open up and come back to the constituents, to the voters that put it in power, and not just a handful or select group. The party needs to reach out to all of its support.
Naturally, were this to happens, the party would be subjected to greater scrutiny and consensus. The island would become a living entity throughout, rather than a centrally controlled group. Perhaps this is the point of friction and even departure between what the David Burt candidacy and Curtis Dickinson candidacy will generate.
It is upon the lips of many, that Burt is more powerful within the party, with Dickinson’s support greatest among the general population. Some will argue that the leadership of Burt is polarising and reminiscent of the PLP that was ousted in December 2012. While Dickinson is weaker within party ranks, he appears to be a “joiner”, or one who has cross-appeal — more respected in the broader community, with a better chance to bring the community back together.
Sadly, only 150 persons get to take part in that decision, which will affect the future of the country. If there is to be any change or opening from within the party, it will not come from Burt. While the jury is out on Dickinson as a leader, there lies a greater likelihood of change.
The delegates have the fate of the island in their hands. There will be those who will goad the delegates to think of the party first, but the more admirable road is to serve the entire island community. Bermuda is dying because there is a lack of concern and effort to make her one country with a common destiny. No, that does not mean sovereignty or independence. However, it should mean the recognition of everyone as a collective with a social contract binding them.
This begins with love for all humanity and a desire for the wellbeing and prosperity of everyone. We cannot build a collective when one sector or part is seen as the enemy, merely because they view things differently. If we don’t begin there, we will never find the road towards unity.