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Poll: split in support for People’s Campaign

Reverend Nicholas Tweed of the People's Campaign (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Support for the grassroots movement the People’s Campaign is split deeply along racial lines, a survey suggests.

Overall, 42 per cent of residents believed the organisation was operating in favour of the Progressive Labour Party and unions, with 30 per cent saying they were operating in the best interest of the Bermuda public.

A breakdown by race shows that 43 per cent of blacks felt the campaign was unbiased in its approach and operating in the public’s best interests, versus 12 per cent of white respondents.

Similarly, 64 per cent of whites said they believed it was biased and operating in favour of the Opposition and unions, compared with 27 per cent of blacks.

The Global Research poll, commissioned for The Royal Gazette, surveyed 403 residents aged 18 and up between August 31 and September 6.

It comes after observers noted a low turnout of white followers at protests and marches involving supporters and members of the PLP and the People’s Campaign in recent months.

Formed in April last year under the rubric of the People’s Campaign for Equality, Jobs and Justice, the People’s Campaign called on both the Bermuda Government and the Opposition to get better in touch with popular expectations.

It was described as a coalition of people concerned about the growing “frustration and mistrust” of the Island’s politics, against a backdrop of rising unemployment, the “growing gap between the haves and have nots, and the unequal burden of sacrifice being placed on the lowest and least”.

In July 2014 the campaign joined with unions in marching to protest against the Supreme Court decision allowing certain holders of Permanent Resident’s Certificates to acquire Bermuda status.

In May of this year, members Reverend Nicholas Tweed, Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert and Bermuda Public Services Union president Jason Hayward took to the airwaves to allege Government impropriety in the deal to redevelop the Island’s airport terminal.

One Bermuda Alliance senator Georgia Marshall later protested that the People’s Campaign formed part of a “combined opposition” denigrating the OBA.

Meanwhile, Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, brought a defamation lawsuit against Mr Hayward for remarks made during the group’s paid broadcast on ZBM — a move denounced by Mr Furbert and Rev Tweed as an attack on free speech.

A significant number of those surveyed did not take a position on the People’s Campaign: 20 per cent of white respondents and 24 per cent of blacks responded that they did not know.

Five per cent of whites and 7 per cent of blacks claimed the movement was in favour of the Government.

Similar racial disparities emerged when the survey asked residents whether unions were helping or hindering the Government’s initiatives to cut the Island’s deficit and improve the economy.

Overall, 25 per cent of respondents said unions were helping — but only 5 per cent of whites against 38 per cent of blacks.

A majority of whites — 71 per cent — believed unions were a hindrance to the Government’s strategies, versus 18 per cent of blacks.

Again, many of those polled had no view either way: 19 per cent of whites and 34 per cent of blacks.

The poll also asked residents whether they supported pastors or church ministers including politics in their church sermon, with 67 per cent against and 22 per cent in favour.

Racial variances were more subtle: 13 per cent of whites and 29 per cent of blacks said they were in support; 76 per cent of whites and 58 per cent of blacks were against.