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A new party must unite cultures

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The seats of Bermuda’s Parliament: the Sessions House and the Cabinet Building are shown in this aerial photograph

Many argue that Bermuda has a “diverse culture”, but they are mistaken in their observation. A culture is the combined ideas, customs and behaviour of one group of people. A “diverse culture”, then, is an oxymoron, and impossible.

The truth is that Bermuda has many different cultures and that is not a problem. The problem is that these cultures do not speak to one another; they are not synchronised, and so our racial tension persists.

To unite these cultures, a catalyst is required in the form of a political party. The Progressive Labour Party and the One Bermuda Alliance are defined by short-term solutions such as medical tourism, or the America’s Cup. But these are merely bandages over the cancer, and ineffective catalysts as a result.

A new party must emerge, and one that cements the “Bermudian” culturally and economically into their country. Naturally, there are things that must be addressed in any “Bermudian” party platform: measly pensions, a plutocratic healthcare system, and the establishment and enforcement of a minimum wage are a few matters that spring to mind.

That said, what follows are several major policies that would benefit — if not provide a bedrock for — a new party in Bermuda.

First, there must be an injection of interest in education, and money with regards to Bermuda College: an overhaul of available Bermuda College courses, and of the shameful library itself, which would be filled with new, relevant and challenging books.

Moreover, the overhaul would establish a split between what could be an academic college for academics, and a technical college for an able workforce. This would lead to a less disaffected youth, who in the past would have been routinely forced to engage with an academic institution that they themselves knew they did not have any aptitude for, or interest in.

Second, a new party would benefit from encouraging the development of a politically neutral media corps, born from media courses on the Bermuda College syllabus, and sustained with funding for local media content.

This content — made privately and funded publicly, or through advertising — would take the form of a broad selection of “talk shows” or programming that involves discussion because it is only through discussion that cultural problems are not necessarily solved, but at least brought into the open.

A local soap would also be beneficial, not only to support local actors and writers, but to enable a fictional exploration of our reality, leading to self-awareness and repair.

“Bermudian” governments are almost inherently out of pocket, but this is because they rarely pursue projects that have a long-term return. With that in mind, here are two projects that would have a good return — economically and culturally — if managed correctly. The first of these projects is the complete legalisation of cannabis in Bermuda. Assuming this legalisation and/or Cannabis Bill succeeds in Parliament, two things would happen:

• An annual, agricultural licence fee for cannabis producers would be available from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources

• An excise duty of 15 per cent for all cannabis retail, including derivatives such as baked goods and merchandise, would be instated

This would exhaust the cannabis black market — “black” meaning illegal — establish regulation and therefore safer cannabis, and provide funds for the Government to carry out the initiatives mentioned earlier.

“Weed” is not, and cannot be, our ultimate economic and cultural saviour. This is why a new party would also need to push through Parliament a solar power initiative, which would result in each house in Bermuda, with the participation of Belco, receiving two public solar panels. Belco would oversee the energy bills as per usual, the gross income being split 60:40 between Belco and the Government, until the Government’s subsidy has been paid back completely.

After this, Belco would assume complete ownership of all panels, but with a new solar tax of 13 per cent added to each energy bill, providing even more revenue for the initiatives outlined earlier.

On a more capitalist note, given that privatised, peer-to-peer, solar-energy sharing would jeopardise the Government’s revenue — our present culture is a selfish one — the possibility of homeowners “buying back” their solar panels, and therefore of creating an entirely new marketplace or economy, would have to be vetoed for the good of the country.

These policies would allow for the blossoming of a unified “Bermudian” culture, with their emphases on shared wealth — solar or otherwise — higher education and public discourse, and allow us to remain a member of the United Kingdom.

The job of any political party, once it is in power, is to terminate things: racial tension, poverty, bumpy roads. Failing that, it is to manage them in a way that is potent, yet tender. But now, it seems, we must look elsewhere for representation.

Walker Zupp, a St Georgian, studied English language and creative writing at Lancaster University, where he remained for the Creative Writing Independent Study MA. He is about to start his PhD in Creative Writing at Exeter University

Walker Zupp