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‘Be a part of this new wave inside the PLP’

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Shomari Talbot-Woolridge, the Progressive Minds chairman (Photograph supplied)

Progressive Minds is the official youth wing of the Progressive Labour Party for members 35 years old and under. Since December 2023, a new executive has been elected, and as the new executive we have made it our mission to ensure that we have an active youth wing after a period from 2019 to 2023 where Progressive Minds were either inactive or inconsistent. Since this time we have had biweekly meetings filled with enlightening discussions and rigorous debates.

We are an organisation that promotes inclusion where all, even if you are not a party member, are welcome to join in on our meetings. While we encourage all to join the party, we are not opposed to non-party members attending our meetings and joining in on the discussions. We have even had OBA candidates who have attended and continue to attend because they can see that we are doing real work, even though invitations to their meetings and events have not been extended to us. We are open to all persons from all walks of life joining us, hearing our ideas and listening to our guests, who have come through our doors to enlighten us all. Since December we have had nine meetings and are gearing up for our tenth.

It is clear why we as Progressive Minds are vital for the survival of this party. Only 8 per cent of the Progressive Labour Party members are 35 and under, including junior members (under 18). This is in stark contrast to the broader electorate, where 20 per cent are between 18 and 35. We, as Progressive Minds, find that our No 1 goal is to ensure that the 8 per cent number is more reflective of the broader electorate. We are hoping that an increase of young persons in the PLP would make the party more responsive to the wants, needs and aspirations of our demographic.

As we continue to grow, we have recognised the importance of our members' participation in the minutiae of the PLP. We aspire to operate as a caucus that gains positions within the party and ensure that we advocate for the progressive labour values that the party purports to represent. We understand that we must move within the party and gain numbers to have the issues and policies that we want to be addressed front of mind for the party.

Pushing our members to become not just members but active members as delegates, branch executives, members of committees, party executives and even candidates, we can use our voting power to advocate for the 21st-century progressive labour values that we believe in.

Many young people today feel as if the PLP does not live up to the values of the party’s past, that PLP politicians are not fighting for the average Bermudian, that the PLP is not responsive to the needs of our demographic and that the party is “progressive and labour” in name only. While I will not negate any of these feelings that our demographic has, we should first look from within ourselves and ask ourselves what are the things that we are doing to better our party and our country. We as Bermudians, especially young Bermudians, should carry out our obligatory duty to hold our politicians accountable, to be active citizens and to continue the struggles of our past.

We would be the first to recognise that as a party there are shortcomings that we must address to get the PLP on the right track. As many of our peers have expressed support for a 32-hour work week with no pay loss, we as a party should be the party where this idea should be embraced and fought for. With education and organisation, we should be the beacon of leftist policies to be inserted into the mainstream politics of our country and brought to legislation, especially with the 30-seat super-majority that makes up 83 per cent of the members within the House of Assembly.

As young persons, we should agitate for the very policies that we believe in, inside the very party that espouses them. Instead of turning to a libertarian party like the FDM, that believes in allowing capital to roam unchecked through the “free market”, that only allows for further inequality as those with capital will further control the economy and further capture the government, or the disorganised and inconsistent party that is the OBA, we as young people should go towards the Progressive Labour Party, not run from it. We should all do our part to hold this party to its values and ensure that this party lives up to its promise through agitation and participation.

What progressive and labour meant in 1963 at this party’s inception is different from what it means today. As a party with a much older demographic, we as young people must insert ourselves inside this party to hold it to the progressive labour values of the 21st century. We are in a time now where we have a huge opportunity to make waves within this party. There is a recognition now more than ever of the importance of taking the voice of the youth seriously and building up the next generation of leaders. We see more than ever that the voices of young persons within the party are being sought out as the past ostracisation of our peers has now, in hindsight, been seen as a huge mistake.

We, as Progressive Minds, are inviting all who are 35 and under to see us as a bridge as we are trying to reconnect the elders of the party with the generation that should naturally be bequeathed the party that so many of our forefathers saw as the vehicle for the change we are asking it to be today.

Please join our next meeting on April 30 at Alaska Hall or via Zoom and be a part of this new wave inside the PLP.

• Shomari Talbot-Woolridge is the chairman of Progressive Minds

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Published April 25, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated April 25, 2024 at 7:31 am)

‘Be a part of this new wave inside the PLP’

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