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No room at the inn for dissent

Curtis Dickinson at the 57th PLP General Conference after his leadership challenge went up in smoke. Little has been heard from him since in political circles (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

I have written about this before, but with recent events in political party circles, it may be clearer. The backbone of the Progressive Labour Party is the delegates. It is almost fair to say the delegates are the PLP. The system of representative delegates can be found in many places and is favourable to an autocratic style of rule.

The continuance of David Burt’s reign despite several disapprovals of his style is protected by the delegates — about 80 out of approximately 122. If seven MPs decide not to contest their seats in the next General Election, he will replace them with seven who are loyal to him.

A leadership challenge through a special delegates conference will almost certainly fail because the delegates for the most part are entrenched, with many tied to government jobs and committee positions.

Joseph Stalin was a very unpopular leader, who ruled brutally through fear and victimisation which took the lives of 26 million people and transformed the nation of Russia into an empire. That Geoffrey Bing, a British MP, lawyer and established communist, wrote the PLP constitution is not coincidental when we understand the times and how he became connected to Bermuda and our labour party.

The history is secondary and only worth knowing. The important consideration is that owing to its design, which is not an open democracy, it went from six MPs in 1963 down to one in 1965, and in 1985 when the PLP was poised to be the next government, it expelled five sitting MPs, causing the party to crawl for another 13 years.

The only effective descent is that members step away carrying their interest and dissent to the middle of the floor. The PLP party machinery by its nature will bury dissent and replace it with loyalty.

In reality, all the dissenters are sitting as “lame ducks”, waiting for their parliamentary terms to end. As it stands, the PLP could lose seven seats at the next election but still retain the government. That would be because some will be foolish enough to believe they can change the PLP from within. The only effective dissent is to rise on the floor and declare another direction.

The PLP is run more like a junta; it is not an open political machinery with progressiveness at its base. Its delegates appear blind to progressive reform, but are fully equipped and formidable as an election team.

The winds are indeed blowing, but no one knows where the winds are favouring.

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Published July 06, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated July 05, 2024 at 7:53 pm)

No room at the inn for dissent

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