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Mightily inspired by Sir John

Sir John Swan (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Few things have inspired me lately, but Sir John Swan at 88 years old showing willingness to re-enter the political scene has. The most important thing he gave as a reason was his love for Bermudians — Black, White, rich or poor. I don’t know of a leader or truly an MP whose reason is because they love their country and people the most.

He is now officially a candidate standing in Constituency 10. He is running as an independent because partisanship as he sees it has caused the electorate to relinquish their role, resulting in a lack of participation. This phenomenon is not unique to Bermuda, and is also true of the United States and many countries where the populace has lost faith in the parties and the parties have become remote from the population and solely a law unto themselves.

Bermuda is leading the world with that trajectory, with 120 delegates thereabouts, as the main voice of a ruling party that will garner at least 20,000 votes out of a 40,000+ electorate.

Sir John wants to address that picture and considers the best example to move forward in a new direction is to make an individual stand. Now, I know some will argue that independents are useless and we need a party because independents will be just loose individuals unable to come together.

There is some logic to that perspective; however, it should be understood that the idea of a republic is based on each individual acting within their right and capacity, but in unity through their consent in having mutual consultation and developing consensus.

So it is only logical that even if there were 100 per cent independent Members of Parliament, they would select or the public should select a leader. So if there were five members or ten, it would be wise that they met and developed positions they would support — and if they disagree, there is no whip or penalty for having one’s position.

A parliament is far stronger when every person is free to express their position. Debate in parliament is meant to flesh out opinions and thoughts to arrive at the best idea. Not as we have it at present where the members are meant to each toe the line, whether or not they agree.

It is better for the country as a whole when differences of opinion are appreciated because it adds to the depth of discussions and removes the fear of expressing an alternative opinion — which is quite contrary to what we experience now when expressions of thought are colour-coded by a party.

The practical challenge that Sir John has created is that both the Progressive Labour Party and the One Bermuda Alliance have announced their candidates. Neither candidate has a wow factor, certainly not like that of Sir John. The PLP has nothing to lose in this contest; it can only gain. Sir John has laid it all out and put everything he ever stood for on the proverbial line. I can only forecast defeat at this juncture for the OBA, therefore it may be wise for the party to pull out of this by-election rather than lose. Sir John is not a threat to anything the OBA may have stood for but, aside from that, a victory for him could create a new wave that perhaps the country is looking for.

This new wave was what I initially perceived when the Free Democratic Movement surfaced in the 2020 election. What was more attractive to me was the idea of a free democratic “movement”. Unfortunately, that idea is now forced to rebuild itself as a perception of a movement after it went into hibernation and is now resurfacing not as an organic movement but as a party.

Sir John has captured the moral high ground for needed democratic reform. I can only imagine that his stand has caused other former MPs to consider re-entering politics, as well as hearken a call for businesspeople not known to politics to get involved.

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