Three worthy critiques and one pile of tripe

A number of people have chimed in on the state of the UBP and, the more intelligent ones, what it says about Bermuda's broad political scene.

Tom Vesey, John Swan and Khalid Wasi (today's Mid Ocean - not yet online) get it. I generally agree with their observations (not all but enough), and won't dignify today's tripe by the Premier's taxpayer funded attack dog with a response, other to say it is highly offensive that our tax dollars are being used to support such a partisan position.

Tom Vesey hits on something I've often observed to people but I don't think written about here, which is that both parties are dysfunctional mis-mashes of political philosophies due to the dominance of a distorting issue:

But so strong is the racial identification of each party, and so strong are the racial messages that each (openly and subtly) is trying to spread about the other, that it's impossible for a conservative or a liberal or anybody else to choose a party that matches their political philosophy.

Khalid Wasi takes a similar approach, although he tends to argue that the UBP should be dissolved in order to trigger a cascading effect on the PLP and allow a new paradigm to emerge.

Sir John Swan looks at things from a much more pragmatic perspective, commenting that the buoyant economy dominates the political landscape and the racism allegation misrepresents the issues:

But he emphatically denied there was a hardcore of white racists within the party. “People have wishes and desires and they should be able to express them – to put a racial twist on it doesn’t serve the country or anyone any useful purpose.”

He said there were racists among both the black and white communities. “You cannot mitigate or marshal people’s psyches.”

But he pointed out Mr. Simmons had been struggling against supporters of another black candidate.

“What you are really talking about here might be a clash of cultures.”
Opponents had accused Mr. Simmons of campaigning with family members who supported the PLP but Sir John said: “I had PLP people support me when I was Premier and my party was impressed – it was the only way I could win.”

Sir John said he too had faced party opponents in his constituency who wanted to replace him but it was a democratic process and he said people should have kept their mouths shut until the primary in Pembroke West.

“To have an outright battle without the democratic process and get in position where everyone is entrenched is not desirable.”

On ZBM last night Sir John said that the UBP struggles for quality candidates because businesses are less inclined to allow their professionals to run for politics (best exemplified by the John Barritt example) while the PLP generally is made of the self-employed and un-employed; a scenario which has flipped things from the early days of party politics where the UBP had a vast pool of professional/merchant candidates while the PLP struggled to find candidates.

There is a lot of merit in these three critiques and something with which I have struggled for some time:

The UBP is far from perfect. But the interesting thing is that if you discount the PLP opportunists who are piling on - seeing this as a chance to bury the UBP - the people who acknowledge the structural/cultural problems with the UBP do not see the PLP as the solution (Khalid was in the UBP and Sir John was the UBP's longest serving Premier).

They all understand that the choice to join the UBP is a complicated one usually driven by a pramatic realism that a single-race party (PLP) is unworkable and that a party with a broader range of views is desirable but also prone to problems such as the current incident.

Maybe these problems are too great to overcome. I'm still trying to reach my own conclusions on that. But the problems the UBP have are in my mind far preferable to the problems the PLP have; the UBP struggles to achieve consensus at times due to a wide range of perspectives and experiences despite everyone's best intentions, while the PLP suffer from an absence of diverse opinion and attribute everything to race.

And finally, I can't help but note the fact that the election of November 9th 1998 seemed to erase from the memory of PLP supporters the fact that they endured thirty years and nine successive electoral defeats. By contrast the UBP has lost 2 in eight years, which pales in comparison.

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