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Bean speaks on FDM’s vision for education

Marc Bean, the former Progressive Labour Party leader who has launched the Free Democratic Movement, a third option for voters at the October 1 General Election (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The leader of the country’s newest political force set out its stall for voters at the weekend.Marc Bean, a founder and head of the Free Democratic Movement and a former leader of the Progressive Labour Party, said the party was designed to maintain and uphold a healthy democratic system, and to “provide a vision and policies that stimulate Bermuda’s economic and cultural development, to effectively move beyond identity and race politics and to cultivate the manifestation of an open, benevolent and free society”.He said the creation of the party was a reaction to “the governance of the country in the last three years”.Mr Bean added: “Naturally, in observing the direction of the country, we started to give consideration to participating in the electoral process by providing a tangible option.“The fact we are able to offer a policy on education before the other entities shows that we are well prepared to go through the election period.”Mr Bean, speaking on Saturday, said that his phone had been “ringing off the hook”.Mr Bean added: “The reaction has been very positive, although, naturally, some people are not happy about it.“That is normal and natural, and we expect it.“The reaction has been very positive overall and that is a reflection of the apathy that is within the country.“It is a natural response to something new.”Mr Bean revealed that the FDM — announced last Friday night — had been in the planning stages for some time.But he said the attempt to supply a third force in Parliament was accelerated after David Burt, the Premier, called a General Election for October 1.Mr Bean added: “Reacting to a snap election call, we have had to mobilise over a short period of time.“I departed politics in 2016, so you could say it’s always been in the works as a contingency plan.“Full energy was inserted into the process over the last few weeks as a response to the snap election.“There was signalling by the Opposition and by the Premier for the potential for an election to be called.”Mr Bean would not disclose how many constituencies the FDM would contest in the election.The former MP for Warwick South Central confirmed that he would be a candidate, but did not reveal where.He said: “Yes, I intend to run.”Mr Bean represented the constituency in the House of Assembly until his retirement from politics in 2016.He also declined to identify who else may run under the new cedar tree banner of the FDM.Mr Bean said: “Nomination day is on the 10th and at that time we will present to the public who our candidates are.”The party’s 11-point education policy, set out on its website, included a commitment to abolish middle schools, which is already a commitment made by the last PLP government.The FDM’s education plan also includes the reintroduction of decentralised secondary schools, downsizing the Department of Education, restructuring Bermuda College into a university in a partnership with The University of the West Indies and the introduction of a voucher system to give parents the opportunity for their children to attend the school of their choice.Mr Bean said the party’s full platform would be provided one policy at a time.He added: “The purpose of releasing our education policy is to encourage debate in the country on a crucial and important component of our society, which is education.“It is all part of enhancing the democratic process so that we can grow as a country and move away from the base emotionalism that accompanies an election period, and give focus to the ideals, principles and policies of those putting themselves forward to be elected.“We have released our education vision and from there the public can discern our vision and approach is a departure from both existing parties.“There are some similarities, but overall people will see and distinguish the differences.”