Haven’t we read this script before?
Congratulations on your appointment as Opposition leader. No doubt you will become the substantive leader, as the path was clearly laid out for you in the last election.
During the past three years in the House of Assembly, you have distinguished yourself by speaking well on finite parts of Bills. Overall, you projected an image of a mild-mannered person who was meticulous and measured in whatever you said.
So it has come as a complete surprise that since becoming “interim Opposition Leader” you have taken on an aggressive and divisive tenor in your media appearances. Seemingly, you have mistakenly allowed yourself to take up the very same playbook that recent One Bermuda Alliance leaders read from at the start of their tenures.
Numbers do not lie
Prime example, your claim on a recent television interview that nearly half of the voting population did not exercise its rights in the 2020 General Election.
As someone who drills down on numbers for a living, you would know the following key data points:
• The OBA could not field 36 candidates and was left without representation in five seats — namely constituencies 16,17, 21, 26 and 33. The net result was that OBA supporters had no ability to vote; thus a significant drop in voter turnout
• In 30 of the 31 seats the OBA contested, the number of persons who voted for the OBA dropped significantly
• In the majority of the 36 seats the Progressive Labour Party contested, our numbers remained the same or increased significantly
• In Paget West, by comparison with 2017, you lost 200 votes while the PLP’s Arianna Hodgson lost only 35
Please feel free to check elections.gov.bm for verification. In 2017, the OBA had a gross total of 13,837 votes. In 2020, the OBA had a gross total of 8,314 votes. A drop of 5,523 votes.
Yes, voters stayed home. What you are not saying is that it was the OBA who failed to get votes.
In recent speeches, you use the word “ideology” quite a bit:
• “Bermuda’s politics are now solely about ideologies and identity” (August 11, The Royal Gazette)
• “... the consequences of immigration as derived from ideology ...” (August 18, The Royal Gazette)
To contest any election in Bermuda, you will be knocking on the doors of the very same families who have their own ideologies formed by individual and collective experiences.
As a prime example, generations were displaced economically and professionally because of a decades-long “ideology” that others should have greater access to capital and jobs than Bermudians. Hence, part of the reason why we have had such large socioeconomic gaps in our country.
This “ideology” was put in place by some of the same persons who have sat and are still sitting in your party executive and caucus. Yes, the very same people you praised during a recent TV interview. Namely, Trevor Moniz and Michael Fahy.
In the July 1 edition of The Royal Gazette in an article titled “Economic development strategy gets broad support”, you and others had this to say about the recent Economic Development Plan:
“Mr Richardson said that there was much to be applauded in the plan and many things that he was ‘pleased to see’.”
“I am so thankful to hear about a broad batch of ideas ... and I have to say that I’m really happy to see things like the retention of international business. That information I enjoyed.”
— Jarion Richardson
“I was pleasantly surprised because the plan in my view was fairly well written and presented, and touched on many of the important aspects of the challenges we face in this country and how we work forward. I believe it’s a very workable strategy.”
— Michael Dunkley
Since you have become Opposition leader, you have contradicted your earlier words and began to berate the very same plan that you and former OBA leader Michael Dunkley had spoken positively about.
It is things such as that which lead us to believe that you are now being fed a script of negativity.
Jarion, we have seen every single one of the previous seven OBA leaders before you come, and we have seen them go. In between their comings and goings, we have seen most of them use every page out of the playbook. So, we know it well. Hence, this is why I can comfortably say what you have been doing and saying lately was written long ago.
Jarion, in closing, part of the words “integrity” and “leadership” is to not let others attempt to change who you truly are. Be yourself, my brother, you won’t go wrong.
• Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org