Thirty pieces of silver doesn’t go too far
I think it was the year 2000 when Stanley Ratteray chaired a mini-symposium for the United Bermuda Party, which was then trying to find its way after election defeat in 1998.
I had expressed the position internally, and externally it was time for the party to write a new script. I remember the responses internally as a near 50-50 split between those who supported the idea that absolute change was needed and those who thought just a few changes in messaging would suffice.
History has deemed those moments as the last days of the UBP. I had written an article for the Mid-Ocean News calling for the UBP to close its doors on an old premise and wake up to a new contemporaneous mission.
It seems that in spite of the opposite appearance, we are witnessing what could be the last days of the Progressive Labour Party. This upcoming delegates conference has exposed to Bermuda some realities that before might have remained hidden.
It has become crystal clear from statements made by the Premier and another MP that the persons of primary importance are the 122 delegates. Any dissension in the community that is not handled as an internal matter for the members is considered as coming from outsiders.
The PLP has labelled itself as a “private party” where its privacy is held sacrosanct over and above the electorate. Considering once that this was a movement about people who were locked out of the voting system and fostered the quest for adult suffrage, it is quite unconscionable that it can glorify in pouring scorn on those who dare to expose its internal affairs.
In the past, the PLP bragged about the efforts of the founding fathers to break up the oligarchy and the narrowly restricted electorate that had only a property vote. Yet then with the property vote, it had political associations that encouraged electors to vote for certain individuals. What can this new generation brag about when the voter pool is even smaller than that of the landowners’ list?
Curtis Dickinson is playing by the rules, but many predict the game is too heavily stacked for him to beat David Burt. Should he win, will he change the game? If he does not win, the die is set for more entrenchment and deeper polarisation, which may lead to the absolute end of the PLP as a politically astute and progressive group.
The UBP went through a similar phase where it thought it had an entitlement and that the electorate had made a mistake. The PLP, on the other hand, is mesmerised by having won 30 seats believing more that it is what the people wanted, rather than the margin reflecting a lack of opposition.
The maxim “pride always precedes destruction” held true in the past and weighs heavy in the moment, particularly without rebuke. The government minister who manages the largest asset has put the country on notice that he and his ministry may do their own audits. This from the same minister who has a dubious past with the South Shore hotel/housing project where no one can figure how government ended up paying more than value on an almost abandoned property. That and a department under his watch that has proven it cannot fix a road or build a sidewalk on time. The same minister who leads the charge to take over the City of Hamilton, while the Botanical Gardens turns into a “weed watch”.
The twofold problem is that this government has spent so much of its time on vendettas that it has destroyed much local talent, in particular its own.
It has been long prophesied that Bermuda will become a rich man's paradise. We thought that was a big deal with Tucker’s Town with the old oligarchs’ giveaway. This government is about to make Tucker’s Town look like kindergarten by the time it finishes giving away our principal assets. The sad part is very little growth is or will be inherited because 30 pieces of silver doesn’t go too far.
In two years it will not be surprising if this leadership is gone. Literally. Gone. The people will have to figure what to do with the remains. The final straw of confidence in the party will be decimated. The precedent has been already established, and these leaders, too, will be hard to find anywhere near our shores or sandy beaches after the damage is done.
As mentioned from the beginning, this is not personal but an observation of political growth and decline in Bermuda. Political growth which is not based on principle or ideals, but on power and maintaining it for the benefit of a few. That is our legacy and nothing has changed except the players.
The huge question is, at what cost? Or, properly said, whose cost?