Full text of PLP leader Marc Bean's speech at party banquet
Speaking to a packed audience at the Progressive Labour Party's annual banquet, held in the Harbourview Ballroom of the Fairmont Hamilton Princess this evening, party leader Marc Bean encouraged PLP stalwarts to celebrate all that the party had achieved in its first 50 years and challenged them to consider the legacy they will pass to future generations.
Around 300 guests and supporters attended the banquet.
Here is the full text of Mr Bean's speech:
"Good evening friends, family colleagues, brothers and sisters. Protocol having been established, I hope that you have your dancing shoes on tonight, as we have much to give thanks for.
"Tonight, we celebrate 50 years of struggle, tragedy, and triumph. From 30 years of wandering in the political wilderness, as what often seemed like Bermuda's sole voice for freedom, justice and equality ... to finally earning the trust and support of the masses in 1998, to serving as the first government in our history to stand for the poor, the downtrodden, and the homeless. The first government of, and for, all Bermudians.
"Yet, through our own actions, our own decisions, and our own behaviour, we lost touch with the people who put their faith in us ... the people who hoped that the new Bermuda we offered in 1998, would represent empowerment and freedom.
"It is from that failure that we have been cast into the political wilderness yet again ... Yet, the time we spend in political exile, can be spent aimlessly wandering, senselessly infighting, and foolishly devoid of vision and purpose, OR, we can move purposefully back to the values on which we were founded.
"At our best, the PLP has brought Bermudians together and moved Bermuda away from the darkness of injustice, oppression, and crony capitalism.
"The Progressive Labour Party was born in a Bermuda where the people had grown, in the words of Martin Luther King, 'tired of being trampled by the iron feet of oppression ... tired of being plunged across the abyss of humiliation, where they experience the bleakness of nagging despair ... tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life's July, and left standing amid the piercing chill of an alpine November'.
"Crony and vulture capitalism, practised by a wicked oligarchy determined to cling to their power and influence by any means necessary, was the Bermuda the PLP was born into, and there were consequences for standing up to them. Our founders faced economic terrorism in the form of pulled mortgages, being blackballed from jobs, and having their good names smeared. Yet they stood up for us, they fought for us, and yes, they founded the PLP for us.
"They believed as we still believe today, that Bermudians are entitled to freedom, justice, and equality in their own country, and for that noble goal, no sacrifice is too great, no burden too heavy, and no opponent is too powerful.
"Our founders had a very clear goal. They sought social and economic equality through the application of political power ... beginning as a protest movement, shifting to power via democratic majority rule, and all culminating in victory at the polls on November 9th, 1998.
"We stand on the shoulders of greatness. We honour them when we fight for the people who have no voice; when we stand up for capable, willing, qualified Bermudians, who are denied employment opportunities in our own country. We honour our founders when we continue to identify and tear down obstacles to opportunity, and when we stand against greed, injustice and inequity.
"Today's PLP, and tomorrow's PLP, must never take for granted the real sacrifice that our fore parents have paid for us to celebrate 50 years, let alone to have the opportunities of education and employment, to which we now enjoy.
"Having gained and now lost political power, we must ask ourselves; what grade would our founding fathers give us? What would they think of us? Have we met their expectations?
"Some may feel that in losing political power, the movement towards social and economic equality has taken one step forward, and two steps backwards, with the last 50 years having come to nought.
"Which leads to the very pressing question ... what must we do to ensure that we celebrate the next 50 years as an institution, and what direction, what new objective, must be set in order for us to effectively serve our supreme interest, the Beautiful People of Bermuda?
"My position is that there is no need for a new objective. The goal of our founding fathers was social and economic equality and justice, but that wasn't their final Objective!
"Social and Economic equality and justice was the goal, the means to an end, but their objective, the culmination point, the real ends, was the highest ideal and aspiration of man, that of Freedom and Liberty ... and by extension, the creation of a Free Society.
"Today, the Free Society dreamed of by our founding fathers remains the objective, and as they did 50 years ago, we must overcome our doubts and our fears, adjust and adept to the conditions of today, and fulfil their dream.
"The Free Society we seek is one where the vestiges of our history ... of slavery ... of colonialism ... of racism, classism, and discrimination, are eradicated. We must seek to usher in a period of stability, peace, material and spiritual progress, so that true social harmony may manifest in Bermuda.
"Make no mistake, the attitudes that gave and continue to give life to these scars on our psyche, are equally destructive to all, regardless if you are black, white, Bermudian or foreign. Every society has among them, those who hold extremist beliefs, and who are a drag upon the well being of our country.
"The rest of us, the overwhelming majority, regardless of race or history, desire the same things out of life. These desires today represent unlocked potential to create tangible cooperation, unity, and progress.
"Today, after 50 years of existence, and 14 years of political power, we see a Bermuda in a downward spiral, our people out of work, our families and communities trapped in a cycle of dependency and
hopelessness ... and our children locked into a fratricidal cycle of death and destruction.
"Is this the legacy of our founder's goal of social and economic equality and justice? I dare say not!
"In order for us to give due respect to our founders and elders, and true regard for future generations, we are going to have to adjust our thinking, and our actions.
"It is time to embrace the principles of freedom, and recognise that true cultural and economic empowerment is the path towards real freedom, with its ancillary benefits of peace, stability, and the elevation of our collective standard of living.
"Political power has, and will continue, to fail to usher in this new day, as quite frankly, a Good Government should have its focus on benefiting all the people equally. It should not be directed by special interest in any shape or form.
"Thus, it is informative to note, that the way forward has less to do with who wields political power, and more to do with how we, as individuals, relate to each other as people.
"As I have stated previously, Governments can only cultivate the conditions where jobs can be created, and that can only happen when we face the truth, and take decisive action. It is the private sector, you and your neighbours, that can create jobs.
"In fact, in order for the optimum conditions for job growth to occur, Government must get out of the way, and depart from the long held notion that politicians and the State, can manage an economy.
"As a Party, our future depends on cultivating a spirit within the people that encourages a willingness to do for self. This ethos demands a shift in mentality from one that depends on government to provide for our every need, and towards a spirit of creativity, entrepreneurship, self improvement, and self knowledge.
"This must have as its basis, the need for personal responsibility, and becoming the masters of our own destiny. In educating our children, we must re-educate ourselves to recognise our innate talents, in order to fulfil our life's purpose.
"No longer can we blame others for our conditions. We must learn anew, the value of savings, and living within our means. We must reverse the trend of becoming slaves to debt, and sacrifice current, frivolous consumption, while increasing savings and thrift ... the real way to create wealth and prosperity. Those of us who have savings must use part of it to invest in themselves, and more importantly, invest in others. As a Party, we must be prepared to reduce the burden of government, and reduce our people's dependency on government. Like it or not, we also must pursue policies that reduce our public debt, reduce government spending, and put Bermuda on a trajectory towards having a balanced budget in the future.
"Fiscal responsibility applies to our public life, as it does to our private, individual lives. Those who inherit the Party in 50 years deserve nothing less. Those who reside in this country in 50 years, deserve nothing less.
"As we are today, we are in danger of becoming an obsolete people of no use to business, no use to our society, and no use to ourselves. The business community is struggling to employ their own friends and families, so we can no longer look exclusively to them to solve our problems, provide employment for us, or give us a livelihood.
"Now is the time for us to adjust our thinking, become innovative, and begin to look at ways to create opportunities for OURSELVES. We must change the consciousness of our people, from one that says “government must,” “IB must,” to one that says, “I must, and I will, do for self”!
"Bermudians must become more productive, and more competitive, in order to be full participants in, and contributors to, the global economy. We cannot afford to be bystanders any longer. The feelings of complaint in the people, must be, like Alchemy, transmuted into the willingness to compete and cooperate with one another.
"Co-operating and competing, reinforces the principal that a man respects you, when you respect yourself. Combine this with the golden rule of loving thy neighbour as thyself, long standing issues like race, which influence much in society, and are the stumbling blocks towards true social harmony and cooperation, will finally recede into the dustbin of history.
"Not all of us want, or have it within us, to be entrepreneurs. But what we do have within us is the capacity to provide the highest level of service to those who have taken the risk, invested in themselves, and have created a job for you to fill. If you do not seek to employ yourself and others, than be someone worthy of being hired. Invest in yourself, educate yourself, and give your employer a full day's work, for a full day's pay.
"These changes within minds, as individuals, and as a community of people who understand the power of doing for self, will transform Bermuda and Bermudians, irrevocably for the better.
"We stand on a foundation bound together by the spirits of a group of average Bermudian men, sitting in a garage 50 years ago ... men seeking a way for all Bermudians to have a voice, a chance, and a role in the country of our birth.
"We are bound together by the memory of Hon. Walter Robinson, the shaper of our island's constitution.
"We are bound together and inspired by the example of Dame Lois Browne Evans; first in law, first in leadership, and first in championing the rights of the people.
"We are bound together and inspired by the legacy of Hon L. Frederick Wade, our political Moses, who led us through the political wilderness, but was unable to complete the journey to government with us.
"We are bound together and inspired by the vision of Dame Jennifer Smith, who brought One Man, One Vote of Equal Value to our people.
"We are bound together by the idea of Hon. William Alexander Scott, that Bermuda should be a place where the haves continue to have, and the have nots, have more.
"We are bound together by the work of Dr Hon.Ewart F. Brown, the man who made the UBP change brands, and reminded us of the need to "just get it done".
"We are bound together by the legacy of Hon. Paula A. Cox, who called upon each of us to Stand Strong for Bermudians, and do it with class and dignity.
"Now, the generation that our parents sacrificed to feed, clothe, and educate, must step up and contribute in the shaping of our island's destiny. Instructed and mentored by our elders, respectful and knowledgeable of our history, our heritage, and of those who came before us, we owe our country so very much.
"Let us give those who came before us the confidence that our island's fate is in good hands. Let us give those who come behind us hope, that tomorrow will be filled with greater opportunity, success, and prosperity, than we have today.
"May Almighty God, bless the Progressive Labour Party, and may he bless the people of Bermuda."