Swan praises Bean’s address
Former United Bermuda Party leader Kim Swan has praised Opposition leader Marc Bean for acknowledging that his party made mistakes while in Government.
Speaking at the Progressive Labour Party's annual conference on Saturday night, Mr Bean said that during its 14 years in power, his party “lost touch with the people who put their faith in us”.
And he said party members needed to “adjust our thinking” to pursue policies that reduce public debt and Government spending. Bermuda's national debt ballooned under the last PLP administration, which lost last December's general election to the One Bermuda Alliance.
Yesterday Mr Swan, who led the Opposition UBP for four years from 2008, said Mr Bean's remarks were “a giant step” towards making the PLP a party that could once more run the country.
And he said it was essential that the party focuses on the future in order to become a strong and effective watchdog in Parliament.
“Mr Bean's speech acknowledging PLP mistakes and also challenging his party faithful to change was huge and went a long way in the journey to place them in a more creditable position as Bermuda's official Opposition,” Mr Swan said.
“The Opposition leader's address to his party faithful is a giant step towards leading his party's support base to a mainstream political position and a necessary step to have a chance of being considered an alternative to the current government.
“As we, the Bermuda people, confront our problems in the present tense, the PLP as the official Opposition have an important role to play in the advancement of Bermuda society.
“A strong and creditable Opposition is essential in the Westminster system and for the Opposition leader to acknowledge past indiscretions goes a long way to allowing a political party to adjust to present day issues — especially when many of their detractors and even some within his own ranks who would have them wallow in the past.
“Notwithstanding, if Bermuda is to move forward successfully, we must be mindful to learn the important lessons from all of our past mistakes as a people and a country in the past but function with a purpose in the present tense to work to make life for all of our people better.
“A positive example of the past would be to recognise the many PLP ideas, solutions and initiatives that former UBP governments enacted prior to 1998 and that the UBP had a powerful backbench throughout its period in government.”
Mr Swan argued that the One Bermuda Alliance did not have “the overwhelming support of the voting populace of Bermuda” and that the Island was still divided along racial and socio-economic lines.
And he said Bermuda remained in a vulnerable economic state because of the huge national debt which ballooned under the PLP Government.
“The picture that these few points paints appears grim and a sizeable challenge for any government going forward,” Mr Swan said.
“But in my opinion, they present us, as a people, with an opportunity if we truly embrace a real vision to build a ‘One Bermuda' society. Such a pursuit can only start when we honestly acknowledge that two or more Bermudas already exist.
“Do the PLP and OBA have the political will to forge One Bermuda or must we endure suffering through our divisions?
“The former suggestion may be deemed a far-fetched political ideal and quickly dispatched as foolishly idealistic by my political detractors. But if our leaders can move the people of our beloved Bermuda closer together to combat our current social and economic ills and our overcome our obvious differences, wouldn't that bode well for future generations?
“Honesty about the past is key as well as telling the entire story. In addition, we must put the blame game aside as a defensive and offensive political tool — particularly given the serious reality of what we are collectively facing in Bermuda.”