When will the PLP-inflicted suffering end?
“A strong secure leader accepts blame and gives credit. A weak, insecure leader gives blame and takes credit.”— John Wooden
Bermuda has been found to be woefully unprepared for the challenges 2023 presents, let alone for the future ahead. After five years of Progressive Labour Party leadership under David Burt, the best way to describe the national mood is resignation bordering on hopelessness and outright political fatigue. Given Curtis Dickinson’s warning and the continued negative trend since then, it is expected that the upcoming Budget Statement will only add to this mood of misery.
It is blatantly obvious that the political leadership of the country stands atop a mountain of baseless and broken promises. The Premier, true to form, has resorted to using independence as a deflection and distraction to hide his utter failings while the country limps towards wherever the fates lead us.
We will recall promises since 2017 to lower the cost of living, make healthcare affordable and make fintech the third pillar of the economy, producing hundreds of jobs. Public education was supposed to improve by restoring confidence in it. The joke is on all of us, as reportedly nearly 40 per cent of Bermuda’s students are in private schools, with parents making huge sacrifices to keep them there while hardly being able to afford it.
Their choice is either sacrifice now or condemn their children to a failing public education system. To add insult to injury, our young people coming mostly out of our public education have more than a 30 per cent unemployment rate. Bermuda’s youth are not the only ones suffering.
Our seniors have not been spared the wrath of the incompetence of the PLP. Measures were promised so that they can enjoy their golden years, but they are increasingly having to choose between food, electricity, rent and buying medication.
By now we were supposed to have a balanced budget, and campaign finance reform was also supposed to be introduced. The Government was supposed to be made more efficient and we were promised safer communities. A proper maintenance schedule was supposed to be introduced for public transport vehicles and we were supposed to have a revived tourism business and product. We are still hovering at about 50 per cent of 2019 tourism totals, while many of our Caribbean neighbours are having record tourism numbers.
The 2017 platform has run its course, along with serving its purpose of getting re-elected. The promises since then are not worth the paper they were written on, except a few token measures such as the make-believe deal to restore the Fairmont Southampton. More on that later.
There is also the promise to create a better environment for Bermudian businesses to thrive, but what we have seen is more and more empty retail spaces in the City of Hamilton where thriving businesses used to be. While supposedly promising to protect our environment, there is the outright poisoning of our water supplies by the Belco plant where numerous PLP MPs’ fingerprints are there for all to see.
Whatever happened to the mortgage relief promised to civil servants? Bermudians struggling with high interest rates were promised they would be lowered, but interest rates are the highest they have been in years. The economic pillar of casino gaming, along with the hundreds of jobs it was supposed to create, has just exploded in Mr Burt’s face.
The promise of good governance has been shattered, with a sitting PLP MP charged in connection with the scandal of the disappearance of $800,000. There has also been the unexplained firings and resignations of top consultants, advisers and Cabinet ministers. Are you hearing echoes of “We had to deceive you?”
Of course, the PLP protectors and enablers respond to these undeniable failures being pointed out and ask, what are your recommendations or what are the One Bermuda Alliance solutions? Let me remind them that Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch shamelessly admitted on November 18, 2022 in the House of Assembly this message to the Opposition. “I’m going to give you this advice for free. If you make a recommendation to us, we are going to do the exact opposite.” Therefore, it doesn’t matter what advice, recommendations or solutions are presented, his party is committed to do the opposite of what is suggested.
The PLP is so arrogant in its failures and political blunders that it has no regard for unflattering criticism. In the meantime, our economy continues to rot and our decreasing standard of living has no end in sight. The promised renovation of Fairmont Southampton is still mired in mystery as to whether it will ever happen or whether the warnings Mr Dickinson cited have derailed the ill-conceived plan.
Imagine, the PLP created an Act to attract investment with guarantees for investors and almost a year later still has nothing to show for it. Mr Dickinson must have been right when he advised and warned Burt not to rush. We should have learnt by now that only fools rush in.
In closing, we are less than halfway through the PLP’s latest term until another election is called in 2025. Until then, we will have to grit our teeth and bear it. The harsh economic and social reality dictates that we have to take each new promise with a grain of salt while bracing ourselves for the tired excuse that our suffering is from the pandemic and global inflation.
If we were better led and better prepared in the first place, the effects would not be so destructive and devastating.
• 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)
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