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Ten years of Bermuda politics: if it’s drama you want ...

Tim Smith

It was a decade of five premiers, seven Opposition leaders, two explosive General Elections, numerous angry demonstrations, never-ending accusations of corruption and House of Assembly spats and the death of two political parties.But for all the drama, it’s hard to argue the Bermuda political scene didn’t finish 2019 pretty much where it began in 2010.The personalities and names may have changed, but the Progressive Labour Party still enjoys a seemingly unassailable lead over an Opposition trying to shake off its elitist image, debates over some hot-button issues continue to generate more controversial headlines than concrete progress and, whether he’s sitting in Parliament or not, a Ewart Brown story will usually be the best-read article of the day.Yet, as our The Decade That Was supplement highlights, the past ten years have underlined once again that anything can happen in this island’s political sphere — and that you take Bermudian voters for granted at your peril.Scarcely believable at the time, the PLP’s fall from grace in the first part of the decade can be explained in hindsight: it spent so much attention wooing middle-class voters that its working-class base was left feeling that its struggles during an economic crisis had been forgotten.The OBA claimed a shock victory in December 2012 after successfully convincing enough people that it was not a mere reincarnation of the maligned United Bermuda Party, yet within two years it had been taken over by one of the UBP’s best-known leaders.And while the OBA undoubtedly helped to resuscitate an ailing economy, prominent members were left perplexed at how little love they won from a population increasingly accustomed to marching against its policies.The reason, according to Shawn Crockwell a few weeks before his tragic death, was that it never listened enough to black Bermudians to show it truly had their interests at heart. A record landslide defeat duly followed in July 2017.The outpouring of grief and tributes in response to Mr Crockwell’s passing — as well as those for Walton Brown, who died in October last year — showed that, for all the pantomime villains, it is possible for a politician to find affection from the public.Have today’s faces of the PLP or OBA figured out how to win that trust? We’ll find out soon enough.— Tim Smith, News Editor