PLP is urged to embrace young voters
The Progressive Labour Party has failed to embrace its younger supporters, political newcomer Diallo Rabain told its members yesterday.
As a result, young voters feel disengaged from the political process, the Government senator announced to around 150 PLP supporters who gathered at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess.
“If there is one area we need to pull up our bootstraps this is it,” he said.
Senator Rabain was the keynote speaker at the PLP's Founders' Day Luncheon, held to mark the 49th anniversary of the formation of Bermuda's first political party.
“As we head into an impending election we find ourselves in a position of strength where the Opposition cannot do much more but try their best to spread the message of PLP gloom and doom,” he said.
“It's sad that after 13 years in Opposition, a re-tread of their tired message from a failed 1998 campaign of 'don't trust the PLP to run the Country' is the best they can come up with as the official Opposition. It didn't work then and it shouldn't work now. I say 'shouldn't', because only we can defeat ourselves.
“We must not repeat the mistakes of our opposition and approach this next election with the mindset of 1998.”
Mr Rabain continued: “I don't think I am going out on a limb when I say we have not been as nurturing as we could have been with young voters.
“To this end, I challenge every senior member of the party and our parliamentarians to take one or two younger people under your wing. Guide and teach them. I urge you to draw strength from [former PLP leader the late] Dame Lois [Browne-Evans] when she said, 'I blame it on the parents and grandparents who haven't been telling their life story to their children and family. It's our responsibility.
“It's a problem that our people haven't told all our children something that was going on up until 1949, '50, '60, '68 before we got to universal adult suffrage.”
“We probably haven't fully taken into account the needs of our growing younger support base. Our young voters need us to reach out to them and get them to understand that they are the future.
“Our children are never too young to be taught and should always be engaged by us adults. We are at the crossroads of our administration and we need all hands on deck. As a family we need everyone to buy into the collective vision if we are to prevail.
“Like every family we will have disagreements and arguments but these are not issues that we cannot overcome or share with members outside this family. This is not the time for personal pontificating as we need every single supporter to get on this train and help us move forward as a single collective voice.
“It is time to set aside any personal agendas, come back into and fully engage the PLP family fold and get on the team Bermuda train.”
On that note he said he is confident the PLP will win the next general election.
The Opposition's only tactic is flawed he said: “They are trying their hardest to convince our supporters that the PLP is a failing government a tactic that didn't work in 1998, did not work in 2007 and will not work in 2012 because we are the only party that represents the will of the people as a whole.”
Senator Rabain also spoke to the fact that there are some within party circles that feel the PLP has moved away from its core philosophy. But he said: “If anything, we have stayed very true to our core philosophy at the cost of alienating our young future leaders.”
And he appealed to the party to embrace the struggle in 2012 and band together. “We will win this next election,” he said, “and we will set the tone for generations to come, my question to you is, are you with us or are you not?”
“The people of this country are yearning for reasons to believe in this great party because deep down inside, they know that the PLP embodies the best Bermuda has to offer.
“We stand on the threshold of greatness and I am confident that in the upcoming election we can focus and channel the vision and fortitude of the many that have come before us and show Bermuda that we are the only option for the Government of Bermuda.
“As we have survived the struggles of 1963 and 1998 we will prevail in 2012 and beyond.”
Premier Paula Cox in her closing remarks said: “This party was born out of the struggle, it has a soul. This is a big week, for me it will be my ninth Budget Day on Friday. I will use it as a launch pad to go from strength to strength. Let us remember to keep the end in view and that as a family we have much to do.”