November 2007 Archives

The only person convicted in connection with corruption at the BHC, Terrance Smith, has had his conviction successfully overturned on appeal and will face a retrial.

Amazing.

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A few days ago I commented on that sort of weird Research.bm poll question about who leaked the BHC files.

Well, today they issued a press release and detailed breakdown on the results of the poll, which evidently was trying to measure how effective Dr. Brown's spin about the leakers has been (with former PLP supporter/ member being the correct answer).

In spite of the admission by former PLP supporter Harold Darrell that he was the one responsible for the leaked Bermuda Housing Corporation files (BHC), a recent survey conducted by Research.bm found that 47% of residents aged 18+ and who are registered to vote in the forthcoming election, were unsure who had leaked the Bermuda Housing Corporation files.

While just under half were unsure, a further 12% thought the UBP were responsible and 7% felt that it was the Auditor General. 31% of respondents thought that the files had been leaked by a former PLP supporter/ member.

Personally, I think the correct answer was a little too nuanced, but I get the point of the exercise. It's identical to a poll held in the US recently which showed that Fox News watchers had a much higher likelihood to believe that Iraq and al Qaeda were connected.

Misinformation is a powerful thing.

The poll did reveal another interesting finding:

Additionally, PLP supporters (i.e. those who are registered voters who intend to vote for the PLP in the next election) were asked “Would you like to see the PLP move forward without Dr Brown as their leader” 69% said no and 25% said yes. 6% were unsure. PLP supporters who are aged between 18-34 years are more likely than average to say that they would like to see the PLP move forward without Dr Brown as their party leader. (36%).

Interesting that younger PLP supporters are less enamored with their leader. I'm not surprised. His politics are very 1960s.

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You've got to love the desperate attempt Dr. Brown is making to pretend he's being smeared, not smearing.

Let me abbreviate his complaint:

"Those 'vile', 'vicious', 'morally bankrupt', 'demented deviant', 'criminal abettor', 'vigilante', 'morally bankrupt', 'lying', 'morally bankrupt', 'white privileged', 'pious', 'self-serving', did I say 'morally bankrupt', 'forked-tongued', 'snide', 'nasty', 'relentless', 'morally bankrupt', 'savage', 'malicious'...and 'morally bankrupt', 'Filthy McNasty' Opposition and media are going to smear mild mannered me...at some point...it hasn't happened yet...but don't believe what you don't hear them say...believe what I tell you they're doing... not what I and my push pollers are doing to them...because I'm taking the high road."

Please. He desperately wants to be smeared, and is responsible for 100% of the smearing thus far. He wants to make this election about him and Michael Dunkley. He's openly begging for it. But it hasn't happened, no matter how hard he tries to manage perception. Has it?

The UBP - in the face of constant verbal attacks - have signed a Code of Conduct, condemned Dr. Brown's own smearing and condemned those who PLP candidate Jane Correia has complained about .

The smearing is coming from one side only.

Paula Cox telegraphed the intention 2 weeks ago:

"If anything the Premier has almost come a martyr-like figure — it seems to me it has coalesced his support."

The Deputy Premier said the critics had merely stirred up the sympathy vote for Dr. Brown.

Reminds me of that old joke, that I've used here before but it is so appropriate:

The Masochist (Dr. Brown) says to the Sadist: "Hurt me."
Sadist (UBP) replies: "No."

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Mark Halperin, editor at large and senior political analyst for Time magazine, wrote an interesting piece, or confessional perhaps, on how the US media traditional covers elections:

Voters are bombarded with information about which contender has “what it takes” to be the best candidate. Who can deliver the most stirring rhetoric? Who can build the most attractive facade? Who can mount the wiliest counterattack? Whose life makes for the neatest story? Our political and media culture reflects and drives an obsession with who is going to win, rather than who should win.

For most of my time covering presidential elections, I shared the view that there was a direct correlation between the skills needed to be a great candidate and a great president. The chaotic and demanding requirements of running for president, I felt, were a perfect test for the toughest job in the world.

But now I think I was wrong. The “campaigner equals leader” formula that inspired me and so many others in the news media is flawed.

I found his penultimate paragraph quite appropriate, when discussing how campaigns should be covered:

Well, we pause, take a deep breath and resist. At least sometimes. In the face of polls and horse-race maneuvering, we can try to keep from getting sucked in by it all. We should examine a candidate’s public record and full life as opposed to his or her campaign performance. But what might appear simple to a voter can, I know, seem hard for a journalist.

With thanks to a reader for pointing this column out to me.

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I'm inundated with emails right now and will try to respond to as many of you as I can.

Please keep them coming. I just can't promise to reply immediately.

Thanks for reading.

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One of the rather cynical things about this whole cement crisis is Dr. Brown's posturing as the saviour rather than one of the instigators.

It's quite simple to see what was going on here as I said last night, which is an overt attempt to dismantle a long-standing Bermuda business so that they could achieve an idiotic yet symbolic point of showing who Bermuda's power brokers are, to borrow a phrase.

Yet, as usual, it's all built on a pack of lies:

The issue over cement supply reached a critical point in this country because a former government provided BCC with an environment that permitted it to hold the country at ransom – do business with us Bermuda or go without cement.

Now I know that facts are irrelevant in Brown's world, but the truth is different. The history of the BCC is quite simple as I discovered today.

About forty years ago, the Bermuda Government was desperately trying to attract industry and investment to the west end through Crown Lands (presumably now WEDCO).

As a result of this, some investors drew up a lease for a patch of undeveloped grassland which now is the site of the Bermuda Cement Company.

BCC then built their facilities on the site, from the ground up, including 3 silos. There is no legislated monopoly. They weren't given any protections. They just started producing cement which, from everything I've been told, is not expensive in Bermuda and is at a price that is low enough to not have invited competition (and fuels thousands of jobs).

Eventually BCC dismantled the metal silo as it was not profitable and the two cement ones remain today. While the silos are part of the land under the lease and are not technically BCC's, there is no reason to relocate them 300 yards down the dock, other than vengeance. Does anyone see high-end condos in Dockyard as a viable development?

Even Dr. Brown made clear himself that the terms of the lease demanded of BCC are different than what a new company could negotiate. Hence, even the most simple or partisan (or simple partisan) observer can see that the lease was designed to be unacceptable to force sale/liquidation.

As an example, do you think it is normal practice for a landlord (WEDCO in this case) to be able to demand in a lease that a tenant make 20% of their company public? Does that sound like something a landlord is within their rights to do?

And, from what I've learned today, this actually wasn't unacceptable to the BCC (although I understand that they were advised a couple of years ago that the company was too small to be listed anyway*). BCC has stated all along that the issue is the cost of building a new facility next door, dismantling the facility, and a short 20 year non-renewable term.

Bermuda's reputation as a safe and reputable place to invest your capital has been irreparably harmed by this debacle. Foreign and local investors will be wondering if their capital is safe from Government interference.

Just ask Cemex, a minority shareholder and Mexican conglomerate, which is about to see their investment devalued by a forced Government takeunder.

A few select insiders will win. Bermuda loses.

[* CORRECTION: The post originally said that BCC was informed by the BSX that they were too small to be listed. That is incorrect. This was advised by an advisory firm. The BSX has advised me that the BCC could have qualified for listing at the time.]

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The UBP today released some details from a poll conducted for them, and not by a candidate.

I'm not into this party poll results game at all, but I suppose it's only reasonable considering the PLP's planted poll.

The poll results put them ahead, but in a statistical dead heat:

Research.bm, the Bermuda-based market research company, today revealed the results of its recent national poll in anticipation of the upcoming election.

The poll was of 408 Bermuda residents over the age of 18 years, who are eligible and indicated a probability of voting. The poll was conducted during the middle of November, 2007.

The poll showed that if the election was held tomorrow, 39% of voters would vote for the UBP, 37% would vote for the PLP, 17% were undecided and 6% refused to answer.

United Bermuda Party Chairman Shawn Crockwell said: “We’re pleased with these results because they reflect growing support for our team and our plans for change. Over the next three weeks, we will continue to talk about real solutions with voters who more and more are telling us it’s time for a change.”

Additionally, the poll indicated that Michael Dunkley was viewed favourably by 62% of Bermudian.

Ewart Brown was viewed favorably by 53% of Bermudians.
67% of voters in this poll opposed independence, with 22% supporting independence and 11% uncertain.

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Someone has posted the push poll on YouTube.

It's a longer than your usual push poll, and starts off with normal questions before veering off into advocacy.

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Government today made an offer to purchase the Bermuda Cement Company, in what is a clear case of nationalisation.

It took awhile but the plan was simple: Offer terms to a private business that no reasonable business could accept, and when they eventually walked, try and purchase it.

There are some serious procedural problems with this (ignoring all the other problems of this debacle), and I bounced this off a knowledgeable source who concurred:

1) Caretaker conventions would prohibit a major move such as this - in 3 weeks we could have a new Government who may not want to be in the business of selling cement (or any kind of business).

2) There was no provision in the Budget for this and it has not been sanctioned by Parliament. Any expenditure of this sort, if the offer were accepted (and that's a big if), would need to go to Parliament as a Supplementary Expenditure.

3) There is no Parliament once an election is called, so a Supplementary Expenditure is impossible.

This is not, in my view, a valid offer as it is a major breach of a number of areas of Government oversight and is a direct rebuke to Bermuda's Parliament and the people of Bermuda.

But interestingly, look what was listed in the Government notices last week:

23 Nov 07 Legal Notices 2 LEGAL NOTICE

The Companies Act 1981 ("the Act")

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a Special General Meeting of CONSTRUCTION DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT LTD. will shortly be held for the purpose of passing a Resolution to change the name of the said Company to Island Cement Ltd.

CHRISTOPHER E. SWAN & CO.

Attorneys for the Applicant

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Hmm. I wonder what Harold "I'll hold back on further dossier disclosures...for now" Darrell will think of being included in this push poll.


"While I say that, I will use the police dossier to defend any attempt to soil my character and any legal action brought against me. Bermudians have been informed about the good and the bad of their elected officials and can now go to the polls knowing which personalities they are voting in or out.

"More importantly, they know that if the PLP is voted back in under Premier's Brown's leadership on December 18, they can no longer complain about his style of leadership. A PLP victory in this election will sanction Premier Brown's leadership."

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Vexed Bermoothes is on the push poll trail.

If I may steal a link from them, you'll note that according to the American Association for Public Opinion Research, push polls are "unethical".

In Bermuda, they're not illegal though, although they are in in many US states.

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One of my readers said that the push polling firm said it was called "Bermuda Opinion Survey", which is obviously a front name, but one that isn't new to me.

It appears that Dr. Brown has been involved with these guys for awhile. I was polled back in May by Bermuda Opinion Surveys, testing some Dr. Brown campaign themes back in early May.

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And from another target of the push poll. Sounds like Dr. Brown's going scorched earth and blanketing the island:

Well I just (after 5 times of saying no to 5 different callers) answered that totally "brainwashing" poll....Each time was a different person calling so now that I have taken it I HOPE that they will not call back...another "fact" disguised as a question was that Harold Darrell STOLE (they said stole twice) and leaked the BHC files to get back at the PLP for not awarding him contracts. They also called us the UBP "the UPB" several times...

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Well it didn't take long to uncover some info on The Parker Group of Alabama - a "telephone marketing company" (note NOT a research firm) - the US company that the PLP have hired to run negative hit pieces dressed up as polls.

Check out this court judgment where the company was found guilty of racial discrimination:

This Court affirms the District Court's finding that TPG intentionally discriminated on the basis of race in violation of § 1981.

Here's how they operated:


About 60% of TPG's overall business is pre-election "get-out-the-vote" calling. Approximately 10% of such calling is race-matched, such that black voters are called by black TPG employees who use the "black" script, while white voters are called by white TPG employees who use a different, "white" script. Race-matched calling apparently is used only when specifically requested by customers. TPG employees doing the race-matched calling in 1994 were assigned separate calling areas and separate scripts according to race. To facilitate supervision, TPG also physically segregated employees who worked at race-matched calling. Black callers were segregated into one room, and white callers segregated into another.

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Ok, the dirty tricks have begun. I expect to have more info in the morning, and I'm going to work this tonight, but Dr. Brown is using a Group called The Parker Group to conduct a push poll (ie. negative campaigning disguised as a poll).

Two readers, both whom I know well sent in the following details:

Recipient 1

It was interesting that there were some of the negative polling techniques you had described in an earlier blog.

Such as “the UBP has been very divisive in the past will this affect the way you vote”. Also questions were about the number of hotels being built, massive increase in tourism last year and a very high standard of living under the PLP government do you view this as favorable not so favorable etc etc.

The more leading questions where the one talking about what a great job the PLP had done, BDA GDP vs US, # of hotels being built and last years increase in tourism - who is best party to "take Bermuda to the next level" then a leading question about Ewart (fast ferries and improved bus service and number of new hotels being built). A question regarding lack of experience of UBP candidates versus experience of PLP candidates. Then they had usual questions about race age and income.

Recipient 2


We just endured a spectacularly ridiculous PLP poll (from the Parker Group in Alabama) following their 4th attempt of repetitive calling.

Some of the questions were do you agree-disagree (typical spectrum of answering options)

- That the UBP is a white elitist party?

- Does the PLP look out for the average Bermudian?

- Did Harold Darrell release the documents as revenge for not receiving a government contract?

- That Bermuda has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world (50% greater than the U.S.)?

... very nasty stuff but unfortunately not unexpected from this Presidential style government.

Slimy. And Desperate.

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The push polling appears to have begun.

If you get polled please write down the questions.

More to come shortly.

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There's been a lot of polling going on lately, to the point where I think Bermuda is just about polled out.

It's one thing to poll in populations in the millions, but it's another to have had two parties and The Royal Gazette intensely banging away with polls in a population of tens of thousands (with far less actual households) for the better part of 18 months.

I know from feedback I receive from poll recipients that they're playing games in how they answer the poll based on who they think is conducting it, because they get polled so frequently.

For that reason I'm highly skeptical of recent polls.

Four days ago a reader sent in the questions of a poll they'd just responded to.

I've included the whole poll below, and from what I've been able to find out it appears that this poll wasn't commissioned by a party or someone in the media but that research.bm tacked some questions onto a banking poll.

The questions were very direct, but one really jumped out to me:


5. Do you feel the BHC documents were leaked to the media by:

a) the UBP;
b) a PLP member;
c) the auditor general; or
d) other

Huh? We know who leaked the documents: Harold Darrell, yet he wasn't included as a response. So unless this question is attempting to measure the success of the PLP's campaign to portray the leaks as orchestrated by the UBP, I don't get the point.

It's the equivalent of polling the following question:

Q: Who was responsible for the September 11 attacks?

a) Saddam Hussein
b) A member of a terrorist organisation
c) The US Government
d) Other

or

Q: Which weapons of Mass Destruction were found in Iraq?

a) A nuke
b) Sarin gas
c) A dirty bomb
d) Other

Surely the right answer should be in there (ie. Al Qaeda and None respectively)?

Anyway, here is the whole poll:


1. Are you registered to vote;

2. Will you vote;

3. Which party will you vote for;

4. On a scale from 1 (very poor) to 7 (excellent) in ten years time what is the likelihood the island will have better:

a) Education:
b) Affordable Housing;
c) one more I can't remember

5. Do you feel the BHC documents were leaked to the media by:

a) the UBP;
b) a PLP member;
c) the auditor general; or
d) other

6. Will the PLP be better off without Dr. Brown as their leader.

These are some of the most direct polling questions I've ever received.

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Man, this is one schizophrenic campaign the PLP are running.

They say they're for the people but are against tax relief. They've historically been firmly against a referendum, then are suddenly for one, now it appears to be no comment.

They refused to open the St. George's Police Station. Now they're all over it.

Today the UBP is right wing and cutting 'essential Government services', yesterday Paula Cox said they're creating a welfare state.

Someone pass the meds.

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The UBP appear to have locked up just about all the prime online ad space early, with Bermynet, BlackandCoke.com and now The Royal Gazette, with what I think is the best ad yet.

Hilarious:

[UPDATE: Ok. Evidently a lot of people didn't get the joke. Well, actually it wasn't a joke, but the ad headline of "We will never deceive you" is a direct poke at Dr. Brown's "We had to deceive you" line after the 2003. Well, actually it was "We had to mislead you...", but somehow "deceive" took hold as well. Anyway, maybe I just have an odd sense of humour, but I thought it was pretty damn funny to see an ad with that headline, evidently too subtle a reference for some and other just don't find humour in the whole thing.]

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Today, the Gazette ran an article on the influence of the internet in this election.

The PLP's chairman, who it would appear is the invisible propagandist behind the PLPs official website, takes a few rather dishonest swipes at me.

Firstly he accuses me of 'a history of racial and cultural insensitivity', and then attempts to recycle the only thing in the hundreds of thousands of words I've written they think they've been able to twist into some racial insult: A caption competition.

In hindsight, caption competitions were probably a bad idea, because Bermuda lacks a collective sense of humour and the PLP think they're a bunch of sacred cows. The one they hang their hat on is the photo of Dr. Brown and US Secretary of State Condi Rice.

The claim in the paper today was typically dishonest by saying that I "...once labelled a photo of two distinguished black people 'Brown Rice'."

Nice try. Firstly this is lazy reporting. I didn't label a photo of two random black people that way, it was two people with the names "Brown and Rice". How dishonest is that? It was a pun - word play - in the same way that the Premier was being punny with his "Brown bag lunches". But we've been through this dance before.

The same pun would have been appropriate for the UK's Gordon Brown or a politician named White. But the double standards and hypocrisy know no bounds do they.

I've used name plays often, including "Cox's Hill" with a picture of Paula Cox and Hilary Clinton. But that's another misrepresenation to follow.

And then he says that I have "...refused to delete comments on his blog that made derogatory attacks against Deputy Premier Paula Cox".

Again, bad reporting. The reporter could have easily asked me for clarification on these personal attacks, but he didn't.

Firstly, that's absolutely not true. I deleted a number of comments on the Sunday evening when I went through them, as some were more offensive than funny and others, while funny, were too easily misrepresented. I also made a comment that some of the entries were over the top and that the competitions were intended as humourous not insulting.

Secondly, I have never 'refused' to delete any comments. I've never been approached to do so. Never. Not once, have I Mr. Burt?

Nor do you seem concerned about the jokes about Hilary Clinton, which were rough. I've also run caption competitions on the Governor, Michael Dunkley (the title was also a play on name) and Prince Charles, but Mr. Burt doesn't seem to care about that. I wonder why? Because it doesn't fit into his campaign to portray any and all criticism as racial.

I'm an equal opportunity comedian.

The selective faux outrage is astounding but expected.

Now I know that we're in election time, but really, the extent of the dishonesty and misrepresentations that are coming from the PLP to any detractor, including the disgusting campaign they are waging against Stuart Hayward - someone who cannot be portrayed as a political partisan - is shameful.

If it's affirmed on December 18th it's only going to amplify it. Whatever happened to honest disagreements?

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Today's Thursday, which means both parties will be out in full force trying to catch the weekend paper headlines.

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The Gazette today profiled a large and apparently disgruntled voting block.

A reader, a taxi driver, rants [edited only for grammar]:

Transportation Initiatives from PLP Keep Bermuda Moving Forward

How in hell could the PLP claim success with out right lies claiming to be working closely with the taxi industry, and that they have implemented a modern digital taxi dispatch system which get the taxis quickly to the customers while adding in augmenting drivers income. Lies,Lies,Lies.

First of all two out of the three company are not using the new system.

The system has failed to deliver what it had promise to do.

The PSVLB has failed to deliver regulations any new system.

Customers are still waiting across this country for a taxi.

All they did was make taxis buy a ornament for their dash board at great expense.

The only success this government can claim is that along with a few taxi operators they have near destroyed the taxi industry.

New mini buses, limousines and they have not finished yet: “Free Transportation”.

One should look for a physically challenged passengers taxi.

Who disbanded the Taxi Advisory Board?

The question is “Why can other services have a government board made up from their profession looking at and making recommendations as to their industry and not the taxi men & women of this country, WHY NOT!

How could one support the PLP? When they continue to drive a knife in the heart of 600 men & women's livelihood.

Remember the taxi fare increase and how it was handled. As I am a business person and taxi owner driver operator, you were powerless to negotiate a fare and just increase do to rising cost.

If you support what the PLP GOVERNMENT has done to the taxi industry then vote for them.

However if you don’t SEND THEM A MESSAGE Vote against them and save your business.

Dispatch. We have a problem

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Judging by the rapid response to the UBP challenging Dr. Brown on Independence and what he really intends, the PLP are aware that this is a real weakness.

Add a referendum to the list of campaign flip-flops for the PLP (St. Georges Police, Southlands, taxi fare hike).

But, there's another tidbit, that for wonks like me who actually care about protocols and conventions, shows yet another crossing of a boundary.

The Premier's Press Secretary position is a quasi-political position, not appointed through the Public Service Commission but one that is not intended for outright partisan political work.

So I was a little surprised that Glenn Jones was out today shilling unabashedly for the PLP, when his is a taxpayer funded position that represents the Premier as his capacity as the leader of the Government, not party:


"The Progressive Labour Party is a party that believes nationhood is in Bermuda's future. And when that day comes, the PLP will be the right choice for leadership.

The press secretary position walks a fine line, but that statement is too much. The taxpayers aren't paying him to spin a party's campaign.

The Bermuda Cabinet Office isn't the White House, full of political appointees, although the consultant racket is the way that has been circumvented. But throughout this campaign Glenn should not be doing party work on the taxpayers dime, or in his capacity as Press Secretary.

That's why I was also a little surprised to see him interviewed in the Bermuda Sun as one of the campaign's spin doctors. Glenn should be speaking on Government matters, and should absolutely not be working - at least during regular business hours - on outright party related statements, such as today's.

That kind of statement should have come from the party PR officer. This creeping politicisation of all things Government needs to be halted.

I know his job depends on the result of the election, but he can always go and write for the PLP Times on December 19th if those taxi drivers exact their revenge.

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For any aspiring politicians out there, here are two case studies in how not to canvass:

1) Per a Letter to the Editor on November the 10th:


I was sitting in my dining room today when GP13 pulled into my driveway. As I have had some construction work on my property I figured it might have something to do with that. Then I noticed it was my MP Wayne Perinchief. So while I waited to find out what Government business he wanted to talk about, as he was in a Government vehicle, I noticed a girl run from the car and drop something in my mailbox, then jumped back in the car and they drove off. So I went down to investigate and found a PLP/Wayne Perinchief pamphlet in my mailbox.

2) Per an East end reader:


This morning Dame Jennifer Smith was standing at the airport roundabout waving to cars as they passed by.

That's not the way it's done. The way it's done, is the way the candidates in Constituency 25 are doing it.


"Gina just needs to keep on doing what she's doing and keep on being who she is," Ms Smith said. "Gina is a hard worker and I hope people would vote based on her integrity and that's it. Gina has been out canvassing every week religiously; sometimes I wonder how she can keep up.

"I also speak well on Dale's behalf, he has been out there and working very hard so, it's going to be close."

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The Royal Gazette
Opinion (21 Nov. 2007)

On Saturday November 17th, The Royal Gazette published a Letter to the Editor from Dr. Eva Hodgson which took issue with a recent column of mine calling for an end to divisive, dishonest, racially polarizing politics.

Dr. Hodgson began by saying that “perspective is everything” and compared her experiences as a black woman with mine as “a white male who has probably never faced any form of discrimination, certainly not racism…”

Since I started this column, some have attempted to rewrite my life so that they can discredit me based on their prejudiced assumptions of me and my motivations. They reframe my views as racially driven, when in fact race is almost entirely unrelated to most of the issues of which I write.

Although I very rarely write about myself or my life – preferring issues, principles and values – and this column is not a forum for personal arguments, it’s time to explain why I’m so personally angry and outspoken about the scandalous events at the Bermuda Housing Corporation (BHC) and the deteriorating public education system in particular.

Contrary to Dr. Hodgson’s ill-informed and stereotyped portrayal of me in her letter, my grievances have nothing to do with race but a great deal to do with my connection with the victims of the BHC travesty. You see, I grew up in BHC housing.

As a child, my family struggled to afford housing in Bermuda, but we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to rent a home from the BHC. It was largely because of the support of the BHC that my parents could provide for their family; because of this subsidized rent, my parents were able to use their remaining income to send their children to the schools of their choice.

Yes, Dr. Hodgson, this “privileged” white boy grew up in Prospect in Government housing because, unlike the stereotype of the endlessly privileged white that you’ve painted me with, my family couldn’t afford to buy a home and struggled like so many others just to rent.

My present day situation is possible because of opportunities afforded to me by the BHC. It is inexcusable to me that anyone – worst of all government officials – could plunder the BHC for personal gain. I know firsthand how it feels to need the support of an agency like the BHC, and how well-managed government services can have a real and lasting improvement in people’s lives.

The reality is that the race of those implicated in the scandal is of no interest to me. What I do care about – what outrages me and so many others – is that senior members of the present Government apparently abused an agency founded to provide a hand-up. I’m outraged because, instead of using the BHC to help Bermudians, some in this Government helped themselves to the BHC.

It is perplexing then, to say the least, that I am consistently accused of racism, simply because I want public officials to be held accountable for exploiting an agency that primarily benefits struggling black families.

Has Bermuda’s racial climate become so distorted that it’s racist to criticize a handful of unethical politicians who happen to be black for the sake of thousands of black Bermudians in need?

Yet Dr. Hodgson and most likeminded critics of mine, implies that my outrage at this present government is built on a desire to return to all-white rule. That assertion has nothing to do with my views and everything to do with their stereotyped views of me. It is an insulting and offensive accusation.

But just what would I be returning to? I was born post-segregation into a working class family with a father who was as comfortable at Warwick Workman’s Club as at the Old Colony Club. I spent most of my childhood at a garage on Ord Road owned by my sister’s working-class black Godfather. You wouldn’t find us at Coral Beach, the Yacht Club or the Mid Ocean Club where I, like many Bermudians black and white, feel hopelessly out of place to this day.

I was never taught to view black and white Bermudians as separate or unequal. In my experience, we’re all just Bermudians. Why then would I want to go back to a time when things were otherwise; when racism was socially acceptable?

It seems that some do want a return to those days … they just want the racist shoe to be on the other foot awhile. These are the people who invoked white privilege when I asked for a comprehensive and independent review of our public school system – fully two years before the PLP Government finally decided it was due.

They saw the issue only in terms of race. They saw a white man criticizing black officials. They refused to see it for what it was: a Bermudian citizen criticizing Bermudian officials for neglecting the well-being of Bermudian students.

Perhaps most ridiculously, people routinely ask why I didn’t speak out when the UBP was in power. The reason for that is simple. When the UBP was in power, I was a kid. I was fresh out of university when the PLP took the reins with so much goodwill. I am part of the ever-growing generation of young Bermudians that have spent their adult lives under a PLP Government.

For me and others of my era, the PLP are the status quo. They don’t represent change, they represent the establishment. While my generation is grateful for the civil rights battles the party fought in the past, we are far more concerned about what the PLP is doing – and not doing - for Bermuda today, as the government in power. They haven’t embraced modern progressive politics but are locked in an antiquated battle against a white foe that has largely died off. I don’t have a dog in that fight.

The racialism and combativeness of the ‘60s is not useful in addressing today’s problems. Those critics with their old-fashioned and hardened views want to drag the rest of us back into their world by misrepresenting our words, our beliefs, our interactions and our experiences. They insult the values that I was raised with, and my family who are not all white.

We don’t all carry around the baggage of the 1960s. Not all of us categorize and stereotype people by race. Some of us, as Dr. Martin Luther King proposed, judge people on the content of their character, not the colour of their skin.

So yes, Dr. Hodgson, I guess I have been privileged, but not for the stereotyped reasons you say. I was privileged enough that when my family needed the help of the BHC, it wasn’t being looted and undermined by unethical politicians.

I was privileged enough that the BHC gave my family the ability to send me to the school of their choice. That’s why I passionately criticize the present government for the events at the BHC and falling education standards. Affordable housing and an excellent education are privileges that I want every Bermudian to enjoy.

As you said, Dr. Hodgson, “perspective is everything.” Your polarizing, stereotyping-based perspective is, with each successive generation of Bermudians, thankfully becoming a thing of the past.

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Almost a month ago to the day I noted the obvious attempts by the PLP to minimise some significant liabilities in advance of the December election window:

Even the most casual observor would have probably noticed that there's been a flurry of activity over the past few weeks of unexpected developments and renewed talk of an election as the next logical window approaches (December).

Most notably there's been developments around moving the Southlands development to Morgan's Point; supplementing the Bermuda Police with some nebulous imported force; importing a foreign consultant to cool down the economy (or just advise on tourism development if you believe the latest shifting justification); and the draft racial quota law.

Well, you can see that they're still at it, with the Premier attempting to head off early a major liability for he and his colleagues: his party's constant push for independence in the face of a combination of overwhelming opposition and complete apathy.

In the Bermuda Sun on Friday Dr. Brown gave a rather slippery response:


But he told us yesterday that he has no intention of "springing it on people" if the PLP wins the December 18 general election.

He said: "My position is that the historical pro-independence position of the PLP has not changed. But when we go to the people to see if they wish to pursue independence, [our course of action] will be determined by the likelihood of a victory... There's no plan to spring it on people."

The same way he told Alex Scott that he wouldn't spring a leadership challenge on him, only to spring one a few short months later?

I think what rightly distresses many people is that there are two different postures on independence for the PLP; one when they're on island and another when they're off.

When speaking to locals they downplay it and say it's on the back-burner, but as soon as he's talking to an overseas crowd it seems to be right back on the front as a priority.

Bermudians should rightly be concerned that right now the PLP aren't just promising to do things immediately that they've refused to do for years (re-open St. George's Police station for example), but they're now also promising not to do things that they've always said they will do (Independence, Southlands).

Granted, Dr. Brown didn't say it was off the table, but he's being coy, and also telegraphing that he's more interested in gaming the outcome rather than just putting it to the people.

So the UBP today called Dr. Brown out on his comments to the Sun and pointed out the lack of clarity in his response. Bermudians need an answer here, because with all of the talk about the parties being the same (which I don't accept), this is a big difference:


I urge Dr. Brown and the PLP to come clean with the people of Bermuda. Will they push for independence, yes or no?

Would Dr. Brown claim an election victory gives him a mandate for independence? That’s a very real possibility. People should demand clarity.

I think the answer is that right now they'll say anything, but the real plan remains unchanged.

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A reader, no doubt spurred on by a distressed wife, wrote in at 8:07PM:

Ooh! The UBP just blocked out the Oprah's Favorite Things Christmas special...

There goes the women's vote...

Then a few minutes later:


Crisis averted...looks like they just pushed it late. Domestic harmony back on track - looked pretty bad for a few minutes there...bet they had every woman in Bermuda watching (albeit swearing at their TV's)...

Poor Oprah. She's been sandwiched between opposing political ads lately. Any guesses who the swing vote is?

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The UBP's Kenny Bascome in St. George's did pretty well tonight putting the lie to the damage control press conference that occurred at St. George's Police Station today, although he needs to learn to deliver a backhanded compliment better.

What was most damning was that he pointed out that as Deputy Mayor of St. George's the Corporation wrote to the Government four months ago inquiring about the Police station for the old town.

They never received a response. So you can imagine their surprise to see Mr. Burch running interference on the steps of the vacant station today.

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You've gotta love the shenanigan's going on in St. George's.

The day after the UBP held an event in St. George's laying out their plan, and predicted that the PLP would announce that Club Med was about to be redeveloped - again - the Premier obliged and went straight out there the next day with a press conference devoid of any real content other than a poster board sketch of the east end.

Then today, after the UBP announced that they'll reopen the St. George's Police Station after it's been closed and ignored for several years, Minister Burch says he's sending the HUSTLE truck crew out to clean it out and that it would be put out to tender soon.

Translation: Uh oh. Look busy!

This is shameless stuff, and St. Georgians will see right through it I'm sure. Suddenly, they're being asked for the political equivalent of a one night stand. Much the same as the last minute taxi fare increase.

Considering that the PLP controlled the timing of the calling of the election (unless of course it was called in self-defense), they're getting beaten to the punch in St. George's, a key battleground.

It's a sure sign that the UBP are strong in the east end, with 3 seats that they have to take and which they very well should considering how neglected the east end has been, and how tight it was in 2003.

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One would presume, or at least hope, that the majority of the public get concerned at repeated Police searches on the body charged with overseeing the public purse and public officials (bear in mind that the recently introducted Ombudsman is legislative prohibited from investigating Ministers). The Auditor is it.

Now we all know that the talking point around the leaked BHC files, and now the Health Minister's meeting notes, is that "THEY WERE STOLEN!" and hence the content is irrelevant, but that's a purely political response.

The Auditor General is tasked with holding public officials accountable and protecting the public purse.

If he is presented with information that suggests wrong-doing, as he evidently was, he has a duty - an obligation - to act on it.

He would be negligent if he said "Damn, that's bad stuff but I shouldn't have seen this therefore I'm not interested".

How the Auditor comes by information is irrelevant, other than if he's breaking into buildings himself to get things, which he is not accused of doing. Any Independent oversight agency MUST act on this kind of information.

In most modern democracies, when the independent Auditor speaks the politicians quake in their boots and snap to action to remedy the problems. But no. Not here.

Here's he's unpredictably arrested and predictably accused of bias, racism or being a "vigilante" and a "criminal abettor" - which would make for a hell of a defamation suit if you ask me (and I know a thing or two about those).

The only appropriate response to this situation, and I believe that the UBP's Pat Gordon-Pamplin made this point on the news Friday evening, is to strengthen the Office of the Auditor, pass Freedom of Information laws and Whistleblower Acts.

There's only one party which has committed itself to enacting this kind of progressive and overdue legislation and fundamentally reforming our outdated Parliament. And it isn't the one with 'progressive' in it's name.

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I'm going to do something inherently dangerous when it comes to the topic of media bias, I'm going to add logic to the discussion.

Well, I'm not going to add it, I've uploaded a podcast on a recent Harvard study on media bias as critiqued by "LSAT: Logic in Everyday Life" from the Princeton Review. A reader pointed me to the LSAT podcast a few weeks ago; it's a good listen and applies logic to real world issues (as the title implies).

You can listen to the podcast on media bias either by clicking from my player below or clicking this link:

Money quotes:

"If you're going to look at a study that quantifies the number of positive stories versus negative stories, as this study does, and you're going to claim that it demonstrates bias, you're are assuming that there is absolute parity between the two parties with positive and negative things happening to or coming from them. And how can that be quantified?

Is it appropriate to assume that Republican and Democratic candidates absolutely deserve the right to the exact same amount of coverage either way, with the exact same tone, no matter what happens?"

and


To be honest, it's difficult for me to imagine a study that could definitively prove it one way or the other. You'd have to go beyond the number of stories, you'd have to look at stories that were ignored, or squashed or given the back page.

In any case, objectivity means sticking to the truth. It does not mean assuming that every fact has a Republican side or a Democratic side.

The final paragraph sums it up, and applies equally to Bermuda as the US.

Now, back to the hysteria and conspiracy rants.

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And, we go back down the Rabbit hole, with another raid on the Auditor General.

I'll quote one of the Law Lords at the Privy Council during the recent gag order attempt, who apparently twice said incredulously:

"You arrested the Auditor General?".

FreeLarrySm.jpg

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Michael Dunkley yesterday:


The UBP predict Premier Ewart Brown will spring another press conference promising exciting plans for the old Club Med site in the election campaign. But Mr. Dunkley said none of Dr. Brown's previous promises had been kept while his party would seek to get things moving.

From the PLP website today:


Earlier today, it was announced that the PLP Government is in the final stages of negotiations to bring a new luxury hotel to the old Club Med Site in St. George's.

But it's all moot anyway. See my post below. These negotiations are not valid. The Ministers are in caretaker mode.

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A reader reads my mind:

Good evening Christian, wondering what your thoughts are about our Government signing long term (10 years for a cruise ship) commitments, leasing Bermuda property for a potential St Georges hotel, etc. etc. after the government has been dissolved and election called. Last minute attempt to tie up loose ends with the real polls looking bad?

Well, there's that. But there's actually a couple of issues here. Let's start with the political one.

One of the weapons in an incumbent party's arsenal that the challenger doesn't have is the ability to use the prestige of their Ministerial offices to profile and preen during an election campaign. They can tour Government projects and stage photo-ops and press conferences of official announcements to keep a high profile as the office holders.

That's just an inherent advantage that incumbent parties have.

I think what we're seeing lately, particularly with today's latest re-issuing of the standard fare "We're bringing a hotel to St. George's" announcement is the old "it's business as usual" act; act like an election win is just a formality, or as my reader said:


"Do the Donald" (as in Trump) - act like nothing is wrong even in the face of bankrupcy.

This only goes so far however.

Once an election is called, Parliament is dissolved and the writ is filed, all Ministers become caretaker Ministers. The Cabinet is a caretaker Cabinet that is there to provide continuity of the routine executive functions during the election period until the next Government is elected.

The Permanent Secretaries and the civil service essentially run the day to day business of Government as no major decisions can be taken during the campaigning period.

What they absolutely should not do - and this is long-standing custom and practice - is to commit the next government to significant new agreements in the final days of their term.

The PLP appear to be ignoring custom and practice. The challenger party - in this case the UBP - is entirely within their rights to state that they will review all agreements after taking over, particularly any decisions taken by caretaker Ministers.

In the past few days there have been some signigicant commitments announced, all since the election writ was dropped.

- The 10 year cruise ship deal just agreed.

- The extension of the Mirrors program.

- The eviction (and de facto Government forced termination of a private business) of the Bermuda Cement Company (which needs to be addressed by itself in a separate post) which was on the evening news broadcasts tonight.

- Today's St. George's non-announcement announcement (to counter the UBP's St. George's press event yesterday) that the PLP Caretaker Government is in the final stages of negotiations with a hotel developer for the old Club Med (and giving away the public St. George's golf course).

Any negotiations which were going on essentially ended the day the election was called, to be resumed by the next Government - whoever they are - after they're sworn in.

So don't be misled, these 'deals' are not done; this is politics pure and simple. I learned a long time ago not to expect Dr. Brown's Government to respect established custom and practice in these things, but the UBP is under no way committed to these 'agreements' which are being - and will continue to be - announced over the coming weeks.

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The Royal Gazette
Opinion (15 Nov. 2007)

“Primum non nocere” is a saying that Dr. Brown might be familiar with. It’s a Latin phrase meaning “First, do no harm” and is a principle taught early to medical students to consider the possible damage that intervention may create.

With Tuesday’s disturbing revelations published in The Royal Gazette regarding the state of our only Hospital, it is not an understatement to say that the Premier, Health Minister, the rest of Cabinet and an unaccountable inner circle are literally playing politics with people’s lives. A helpful reminder: “First, do no harm.”

Dr. Brown’s invocation of God as his defender at the PLP Banquet notwithstanding; it’s clear that this Government has completely lost sight of what it was elected to do. They exist to serve the public interest, not the reverse.

That is the inescapable conclusion that reasonable people will reach when presented with the private notes of Health Minister Michael Scott which reveal that a damning report from Johns Hopkins on the Hospital “must be managed, it must be written so that it suits the Government and does not become a document that embarrasses GOB [Government of Bermuda]” because “the reports out of KEMH would be devastating.”

Here we go again, with another report going unreported pending a rewrite, while yet another is prepared by Kurron Shares of America, a member of the armada of foreign consultants that seem to be running Bermuda on very lucrative contracts with little accountability or oversight to the public who fund them.

Report shopping is rampant by this Government, whether it’s problems at the hospital or the latest study on young black males; Cabinet will commission an endless number of reports until they find one that tells them what they want to tell us.

To make matters worse, Government won’t even Buy Bermuda; the island has become a playground for highly paid foreign consultants whose loyalty is solely to the politician who cuts their cheques. Independent views ‘must be managed’ and are hastily locked away.

Perhaps this would be tolerable if Government’s performance wasn’t so abysmal and we weren’t constantly subjected to brazen untruths; statements which transcend political spin and classify solely as unabashed propaganda and the denial of reality. Managing public perception now trumps honesty. This Government has crossed the Rubicon when it comes to spin versus deception.

The political propaganda which is being peddled daily in respect of every aspect of Bermuda political life is mind-boggling; whether it’s inflated public school graduation rates, business travelers misrepresented as tourists or the affiliations of whistleblowers and the sources of leaked files. It’s not just unfavourable reports that are rewritten, but facts too.

Rather than communicate honestly and forthrightly with the public, Government has assembled a massive public relations apparatus designed mostly to prevent genuine communication. It’s a sad condemnation when, in the case of the suppressed Johns Hopkins report, saving face is more important than saving lives.

These incidents aren’t aberrations, they’re an operating principle that was enshrined into Bermuda’s political folklore after the 2003 election where the aspiring Premier notoriously conceded that he and his colleagues ‘misled you because we had to’ during an election campaign. Here we go again four and a half years later.

This psychosis has become so pervasive that the PLP party’s website regularly engages in the blatant misrepresentation of quotes, and even fabricates new quotes from fragments of others. This began months ago when the party propagandists edited aspiring candidate Ianthia Wade’s public condemnation of the party’s leadership into a ringing endorsement, inserted a full stop in the middle of a sentence of mine while ignoring whole paragraphs so they could attack me over the Workplace Equity Act, or most recently blatantly lied about the opening line of a Royal Gazette editorial so they could twist it into an (easily debunked) admission of pro-UBP bias.

It’s no wonder that Bermudians are becoming increasingly disconnected, disgusted and dismayed with the state of Bermuda’s political leadership and are cynically resorting to staying home on Election Day. It’s why bumper stickers like “I love my country, it’s the Government that scares me” don’t just make you laugh, but nod in agreement.

Presumably if truth were on the Government’s side they wouldn’t have to resort to this kind of unprecedented and pathological deception; the desperation is an admission of failure.

When critically important reports on the state of our health care system are surgically removed from existence and filed in the morgue, one wonders what ever happened to the concept of “First, do no harm”.

To have first hand proof that politics is trumping the health care needs of Bermuda is disturbing to say the least. Secret weekend meetings where a closed circle of hand-selected loyalists plot the future of health care in Bermuda – with the Premier himself revealed as the not-so-secret back seat driver of a portfolio where he has massive private business conflicts of interest – runs counter to the public interest.

It was offensive enough when the cover-ups concerned allegations of improper conduct by public officials with taxpayer funds; but to now be covering up vitally important but damning assessments of our public health infrastructure is more than “embarrassing”, it’s dangerous.

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I'm not intending to do a week in review as we proceed through this seven week campaign, but I did think that the first week and a half has been interesting for a number of reasons.

There's been a fair amount of debate about why the election was called when it was, whether it was planned or an act of self-defense by Dr. Brown as his party prepared to try and take him out. I suppose that we'll never really know, but judging by the lack of organisation which the PLP exhibited during the 10 days it seems to me like it was a survival tactic.

If you saw Gary Moreno on ZBM news a few nights ago ask David Burch whether the rumour that the Premier had been asked to resign the night before he called the election was true, you would have noted that Mr. Burch could only hold a straight face during his denial for a few moments before he walked away with a twinkle in his eye and a wicked laugh. (I'm having video editing problems or I'd load it up on YouTube it's so good).

Whether the UBP expected the election to be called or not, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. I think that the first 10 days of the campaign, while relatively low key, were very positive for the UBP.

They rolled right into campaign mode, with a half hour broadcast the night before the Throne Speech and day the election was called, had their Agenda for Change newspaper insert in The Royal Gazette on the Monday, produced their Code of Conduct and rolled out more of their TV and radio ads online early in the week.

The PLP on the other hand, considering that they theoretically held the upper hand in knowing the timing of the election and could cue up a strong first week while the Opposition scrambled, seemed surprised and disorganised.

They started the campaign with a speech by Dr. Brown at the PLP Banquet which left many Bermudians shaking their heads over the intensity of its dishonesty, vitriol and racial attacks, before spending the rest of the week trying to look busy by taking potshots at the UBP's Code of Conduct, TV ads and three days of faux outrage on their radio station over a photo on the front of the UBP's Agenda for Change.

The first week's strategy for the PLP appeared to be to undermine the UBP's PR in the absence of their own.

Most revealingly to me at the state of unpreparedness they seemed to be in after calling the election was the Housing insert which appeared in The Royal Gazette on the Thursday.

The insert was notable for two reasons:

1) It was devoid of any real content, with the pages filled with 3/4 page photos and very little substance and;

2) What little content existed was full of errors and photos of housing projects which either weren't houses (a school) or were UBP projects from pre-1998.

The insert was incredibly amateurish and rushed, and while I don't think that the PLP can make much of a case for having delivered on housing in their 9 years, they could have made a better one that that. The flyer appeared to be little more than an effort to counter the UBP's rather timely Agenda for Change insert.

Only today did the PLP get their TV ads online and start looking like they were getting organised.

Seven weeks is a pretty long campaign so clearly both parties need to pace themselves and build momentum for a strong finish, but the Premier played some cards early that would usually be reserved for the final weeks: race and religion.

What that suggests to me is that the PLP are looking at numbers or are receiving feedback that shows that their core support is weak and that they needed to try and shore that up quickly, hence the Premier's Banquet rant.

It's also why they planted parts of a questionable poll in the Gazette, so that they could send a message to their supporters that they could actually win this thing despite their unpopular leader.

I think it's safe to say that the PLP didn't expect to be facing the very real prospects of a defeat 12 months ago when Dr. Brown knocked off Alex Scott.

It's still early, and both parties will have their good weeks and make some mistakes along the way, but I'd say that the early days of the campaign were positive for the UBP, who must be feeling pretty good right now about their prospects.

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The UBP have been calling for mandatory drug testing of MP's for some time now, but evidently there is a more pressing test which should be administered, a hearing test.

First up? Dr. Brown, who evidently only hears praise and adulation, mishearing Charles Gosling who assessed him as a "fascinating character" rather than the "fantastic man" that he heard.

And then there's Michael Scott, the Health Minister who evidently hears things which were never actually said during secret strategy meetings which he attends and takes notes in. The Minister, a lawyer, evidently never heard it said that the Johns Hopkins report was 'devastating' and would be an 'embarrassment to the GOB [Government of Bermuda]' and 'must be managed'. The notes he made? "Grossly inaccurate" and his "personal thoughts". Never happened. Clearly.

Perhaps they could perform the hearing tests while they are being drug tested? Or, on second thought, perhaps they need some drugs to treat them for the voices which they are hearing?

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The Bermuda Sun today has an article up about both parties use of YouTube in their campaigns. (Click here for the UBP's channel and the PLP's channel.)

It is interesting that both parties are using YouTube, but the Sun missed the real upside of YouTube and the internet in general: there are no broadcasting restrictions on web video/audio content whereas advertising through the traditional media is limited through Bermuda's Broadcasting Regulations (more on those regulations to come in another post).

I've always thought that Bermuda's Broadcasting Regulations were a little bone-headed. During election periods (post election writ) the parties are restricted in time for political broadcasts/advertisements on TV and radio while non-election periods are unrestricted. That seems backwards in that election time is precisely when people are going to pay attention and the most information (and mis-information) is communicated (although one upside is that it forces the campaigns to be strategic and not just blanket the airwaves with repetitive ads).

Those very same TV/radio ads posted on YouTube or a party website can get unlimited play, and if they're good enough, which presumably the UBP's soon to be released humourous one (see Sun story) is intended to be, will go viral and have a bigger impact than a straight TV ad - young or not.

Will YouTube 'turn the election' as the Bermuda Sun asks? I doubt it. Yes seats are tight, but the best feature of Bermuda is that constituents expect to see their candidates, and it's actually feasible to do so. Retail politics is still paramount.

YouTube/the web is a no brainer of an avenue to pursue - there's no downside. It's a new distribution channel that politicians and parties worldwide are using to get their message out, and ultimately I think the benefits are more than just reaching a certain demographic; there's convenience (5 minutes of effort to upload an ad) as well as having reach.

As more people get their news from the new media versus old media the web will obviously play a major role.

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I haven't commented on the whole stem cell clinic issue that so rightly concerns so many Bermudians, and the outside looking in, but I've been meaning to; although not really from the angle that has received the coverage thus far - but the case study of private conflicts of public officials that it provides.

But on Friday the Mid Ocean News ran an apology to Stemedica for two quotes that were included in their stories on the establishment of a stem cell clinic in Bermuda by Dr. Brown.

When I first read those stories in the Mid Ocean, and saw the two quotes that it was a 'sham' and looked like a 'money laundering expedition' I thought 'Oh, that could be a problem', particularly because those two quotes didn't appear at the centre of the very concerning issues that this whole initiative raises:

1) Stem cell science is still in its infancy and experimentation on humans is controversial.
2) Bermuda is not a jurisdiction currently suited for this kind of healthcare business, from either a regulatory (there are none - which some think is the attraction) or an economic perspective (there is no infrastructure in place, nor a suitable labour pool).
3) Public officials practicing, but in particular expanding related private interests, in areas in which they are overseeing public policy is a concern.

Those issues and parts of the coverage aren't at all impacted by the apology.

Stemedica issued a press release yesterday on the apology, which has headed off legal action, but a release which I think tries to hook the Gazette into the apology in a way that isn't correct: by saying they received 'apologies from Bermudians Newspapers', emphasis on the plural 'apologies' and 'papers'.

Today, Stemedica Cell Technologies (“Stemedica”) received unequivocal apologies from Bermudian publications the Mid-Ocean News and The Royal Gazette online regarding unsubstantiated and pejorative remarks those publications had made about the company.

Not quite. There was one apology carried in two places. The Mid Ocean clearly apologised for the quotes at dispute, but The Royal Gazette ran their own series of articles on this which were not a part of the apology. They carried the Mid Ocean's apology in a box labeled 'Advertisement' from the Mid Ocean News.

The Bermuda Sun also published a series of stories on this that have not been challenged.

For that reason I think the 'Bermudian newspapers' quote is mischievous. The threat of a libel suit didn't apply to the Gazette's articles nor the Sun's, only two quotes in a Mid Ocean article.

I imagine that because the Mid Ocean News' website is a subsection of The Royal Gazette's website, Stemedica demanded the apology be carried there as well, and is now attempting to portray the Mid Ocean's apology as applicable to the Gazette's articles, when it is not.

One thing that I think people don't really understand (and some will never accept) is that The Royal Gazette and The Mid Ocean News are two different newspapers, run by different editorial staff with separate reporters. Yes, they're owned by the same holding company, but they operate independently of each other and don't cooperate on stories.

The big advantage that the Mid Ocean has is that they publish once a week, so they have more time to dig deeper into stories than the press outlets who have daily deadlines to meet can and so end up with the big scoops like the leaked Police files.

Bermuda is experiencing a renaissance in defamation law it seems, and in this case it's clear the apology was warranted. But serious concerns remain.

From my perspective, the UBP's Louise Jackson hit the angle that has been largely ignored thus far by the main stream media, which is that in addition to medical ethical and regulatory concerns, there are serious ones around public ethics.

We should be very concerned when the Premier, who is clearly the behind the scenes driver of health care policy as well as his other portfolios - as seen in today's coverage of the secret hospital meetings, is actively pursuing private interests in the field. In addition to closing the Medical Clinic which competed with his private one, he is now bringing a highly controversial and experimental medical clinic to an island which has neither the regulations (which he has total control over) or infrastructure for this.

That is an area which I'd like to see the press highlight, as much as the concerns over medical ethics and regulatory issues.

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A little levity and then something a little more interesting on the PLP "poll" planted in the Gazette last Friday to try and rebut the recurring complaints from the PLP's disenchanted base (a poll brought to you by the same people who brought you a phony 80% graduation rate and trumped up tourism numbers).

A reader pointed out to me that PLP candidate Walton Brown's own 'news' website is running a follow-up story on the poll, from a statement by the PLP. A little game of I showed you mine so you show me yours - nice try will be the response I imagine.

But, check what the Bermuda Network News story is saying:


George Scott, the PLP candidate for Warwick West, has called on UBP chairman Shawn Crockwell to publish its own poll results.

Responding to the results of a poll carried out by Research Innovations, which showed the PLP trailing the UBP...

Oops. They're off message. I imagine that that little problem will be remedied shortly?

On to the interesting bit:


However, Mr Scott said: "If Mr. Crockwell has information that shows otherwise, I challenge him to release that information to the public. But, I warn him not to release a push poll - release your poll results, your methodology and the identity of your polling firm."

What is interesting to me isn't the bravado, it's the mention of a "push poll".

Firstly, push polls aren't something that you actually even bother to collect data from, because they aren't a poll; they're a negative attack conducted under the guise of a poll:

A push poll is a political campaign technique in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll. In a push poll, large numbers of respondents are contacted, and little or no effort is made to collect and analyze response data. Instead, the push poll is a form of telemarketing masquerading as a poll. Push polls are generally viewed as a form of negative campaigning [1]. The term is also sometimes used inaccurately to refer to legitimate polls which test political messages, some of which may be negative. Push polling has been condemned by the American Association of Political Consultants.

It's very interesting that the PLP have push polls on the brain. I sincerely hope that they aren't intending to conduct some during the campaign. They're disgusting, probably the most infamous being:

Bush's campaign strategists, including Karl Rove, devised a push poll against John McCain. South Carolina voters were asked "Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?". They had no interest in the actual percentages in the poll, the goal was to suggest that he had. This was particularly vicious since McCain was campaigning with his adopted Bangladeshi daughter. The sight of the little dark skinned girl made the seed planted earlier grow and John McCain lost South Carolina, effectively ending his run for the presidency.

To think that the UBP, who are held to a much higher standard than the PLP in the tone, language and manner that they behave and campaign, would dare engage in push polling is laughable. It's far too toxic, but in line with the kind of smearing that the Premier launched his campaign with.

What's so absurd about that statement is that it suggests that the PLP strategists are either trying to undermine the UBP's poll results if they were to publish them, or they don't know what a push poll is - no party is going to 'release the results of a push poll'. Firstly, you aren't interested in the responses to a push poll - you're trying to deliver a smear not measure anything, and secondly you wouldn't want to be even remotely associated with one. They'd be done by proxies.

So I'll go with the former, that they're trying to frame any UBP poll as invalid, because I'm sure that their advisors are well acquainted with push polling.

The kind of childishness by the PLP in the wake of their planted poll is precisely why the media should reject them. It's not news, it's propaganda and tactics.

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With all of the election anticipation of the past year the Parliamentary Registrar has been keeping a high profile with advertising encouraging people to vote.

I meant to post this months ago, but this TV election ad they're running is appalling:

Who decided to use the theme music from The Omen in a Register to Vote campaign? The movement, O Fortuna, is a classical masterpiece; but it has also become an iconic horror movie track because it is one of the most powerfully ominous and sinister compositions ever written. The music is Satanic.

This ad strikes completely the wrong tone. It feels incredibly political and tries to scare the hell out of you rather than inspire. It's very carefully crafted to send some strong political messages using music which conjures up Satanic images while you listen.

The exact same ad, paired with a very uplifting audio track, could have been more appropriate and effective; encouraging participation rather than suggesting that the Anti-Christ will arrive if you don't vote.

If you're going to do a register to vote ad with the 'Our democracy has come a long way' theme, it absolutely should have been positive, not a trailer for a horror movie.

Everyone I've asked about the ad has been either stunned or appalled. Someone said to me they felt like Bermuda was about to be invaded by Orc's unless they voted. What's even funnier is that the first related video that was associated with the ad when I loaded it up was a clip from The Lord of the Rings.

What is the Registrar thinking? That ad isn't something that they should be running.

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Today's publishing of PLP candidate Walton Brown's poll in the Royal Gazette is a pretty egregious error in judgment. I don't really care about what it says, but it should be obvious that for a national newspaper to carry a poll conducted by a candidate of any party is inappropriate.

What's even more inappropriate is a poll, conducted by a party candidate, being published on the Bermuda Network 'News' site owned by that very same candidate, without the mandated disclosure of ownership interest. The article identified Walton Brown as a candidate for the PLP, but not that he owns the news site as well (although almost all of its content is simply verbatim Government press releases/statements), which gave a very generous headline of "PLP on course for victory - poll".

Not declaring the ownership conflict is a baaaaadddddd omission, particularly on top of all the other conflicts.

This is the same news site that announced that 5,000 people attended a PLP rally, before whittling it down to 1,000.

The strategy of candidates/parties releasing random polls to the press to combat negative press and public sentiment is becoming common in the US, but this is all tactical not informational. It's the old idea that people want to vote for a winner, so let's look like the winner. If you're actually interested in how things are moving, a poll like this (taken before the calling of the election, the Privy Council and injunction defeats and Banquet rant) are really not useful or even 'news'; they're just timed PR pieces to present a skewed picture.

No paper should lend an internal poll, even worse - one conducted by a candidate - the type of credibility that they will, couched headline or not.

The Gazette, suffering from some serious abused spouse syndrome lately in the midst of the all out "media bias" assault ("but do you love me?"), complied.

I prefer my polls from external unbiased sources, and if I was running a party I wouldn't be using one of my candidates to do my polling, he's too embedded in things to give a truly independent interpretation.

It reminds me of that line about lawyers:


"He who acts for himself has a fool for a client and an ass for a lawyer."

From the public's perspective, there's simply no context around random, one off poll releases. The poll shows a snapshot at a certain point in time. But what was it before? Are they going up or down? Maybe they've got a 9 point lead, but maybe 2 months ago it was 20%.

We don't know. Which is why the Gazette allowed themselves to be played. I don't think they knew the questions asked, just the numbers presented to them. Releasing the poll was designed to manage public sentiment not inform, evidenced by the fact that he refused to release some parts.

Cherry picked numbers are just that.

It's not always easy for a reporter to judge the motives of insiders during election campaigns, but when internal polls are being carefully placed in the media this early, you know one side had a bad first week.

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A reader sent the following to me a few days ago in response to my "Double Talk? Double Standards" post.

I believe the PLP website has to be viewed against the audience it is directed at. They would always vote PLP regardless of who is the leader and equally never vote UBP, or any other party, regardless of that party’s leader. Treat the comments as an object lesson in mind control and propaganda.

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Clearly, the PLP have decided that a central talking point of their campaign is that the Royal Gazette is an arm of the UBP. I've written about this a number of times, both in detail and in passing.

Today, the PLP posted a statement on their website entitled "Royal Gazette Acknowledges UBP Bias".

Here's what they claimed:


The Royal Gazette has stopped hiding their UBP bias. In an editorial in today's paper they claimed that the UBP has "a lot of good ideas." They acknowledged that the unabashedly pro-UBP editorial was "evidence that this newspaper is biased towards the United Bermuda Party."

Note, that they did not include a link to the actual editorial which included the 'quote' in bold.

Why? Well here's the first half of the sentence which they omitted:


"With the very real risk that Premier Ewart Brown will add this editorial to his dossier of evidence that this newspaper is biased towards the United Bermuda Party, it must be said that at first glance the Opposition's "mini-platform" contains a lot of good ideas

This isn't the first time they've used fragments of sentences to misrepresent someone. It's a regular practice. As a reader who emailed me about this said:


Is it just me, or are pieces of sentences being taken and used to create what they want?

It's frightening that people will read this and not bother to actually look up the article and read it.

Surely, if the PLP had a real case about media bias they wouldn't have to fabricate these statements with out of context partial quotes; lies which are disproven so easily.

Maybe that's why they post these dishonest attacks under a generic "Submitted by the PLP" rather than attribute them to someone who would immediately lose credibility.

Dishonesty is not the foundation of an election campaign. It's time for truth in political discourse.

This is shameful.

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With Dr. Brown starting this campaign off in an extremely hyperbolic and divisive manner, I though I'd repost the Street Fight post from February.

It's well worth renting.

--------February 19, 2007--------

Last night I watched "Street Fight" a documentary about the Newark, New Jersey Mayoral Race between challenger Cory Booker and incumbent Sharpe James [Note: It is available at Leisure Time].

You may remember that Cory Booker was brought to Bermuda twice by the UBP to speak.

Besides being a gripping documentary, anyone who is interested in the mechanics and tactics encountered when running an on the ground election campaign against a no-holds barred opponent shouldn't miss this.

There are many parallels to the racialisation of our election campaigns, alhough this one is between two black American Democrats; one representing the old guard and the other a young up and comer.

Observers of Bermudian politics will note the many overlapping themes and tactics involved. For example, Mr. Booker - a black Democrat - was labeled by his opponent as a white Republican jew because he dare challenge the black establishment candidate.

Sound familiar? Shysters and Uncle Toms anyone?

Watch the trailer:

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I said in my Gazette column that there was going to be the need for a big fact checking exercise in this campaign, well the UBP sent me a press release dismantling the rather sparse content of what appears to be a rather hastily put together and misleading PLP housing insert in today's paper.


PLP “Progress Report” shows no real progress

By Jon Brunson, United Bermuda Party Shadow Minister for Housing

Most people know the PLP Government has done a poor job meeting the housing needs of people during its nine years in power.

And we believe most people have seen the frantic photo-op “activities” over the past few months – of groundbreakings and ministers touring half-completed projects – as nothing more than a last-minute pre-election scramble to portray successes where there have been none.

Today, the PLP itself has shown how empty its record on housing has been.

The glossy, multi-coloured “Progress Report” on housing inserted into The Royal Gazette is a sham. There is no other word for it.

We begin with the front cover. The photograph shows a blue cottage with a caption reading Rockaway Senior Housing Project.

But the cottage is not part of the Rockaway project. It is in fact a cottage located at Southside, St. David’s – a cottage that was designated for first-time homebuyers under a plan created with the United Bermuda Party in the mid 1990s.

Page 2. Here we see the image of what appears to be a pleasant family home under the headline: “Geared-to-income Housing a Success.” Well, it’s no home. It’s the Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy, a government school that provides educational and therapeutic services to students, ages 4 through 19.

It is, in our view, an extreme example of misleading advertising.

Page 3. Here we see the Rockaway Senior Housing Project in “various stages of completion.” Where to begin?

It is perhaps symbolic that 3 of the 4 photographs show incomplete buildings, but that’s not the story. The Rockaway development is a project of the Bermuda Housing Trust, a charitable organization to provide affordable housing for seniors. Yes, the government donated the land, but for the PLP to now take credit and score political points for housing built by an outside agency, without acknowledging the Trust, is not exactly being upfront.

On page 4 the brochure takes us back to the Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy.

On page 5, we’re back at Southside. Again, all the houses pictured were designed for sale to first-time homebuyers under the United Bermuda Party Government in the late 1990s, a huge success at the time. The plan broke new ground commercially by enabling purchases with a five per cent down payment – making it possible for many people to own their first home.

On page 6, we see photographs of ‘new housing’ at Anchorage Road in St. George’s. We celebrate the end result – 16 families living in 16 units, but one must remember that the project, from start to finish, took eight years to complete; eight years to build and renovate 16 housing units. Perhaps nothing better typifies PLP Government’s casual, disengaged approach to this basic issue than the eight-year Anchorage Road project.

Finally on page 7, we return for the third time to the Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy.

The glossy brochure finishes on the last page with the PLP slogan “Solid! As The Rock”, but the photographic claims in the preceding pages are anything but solid.

Finally, as a footnote, we must call people’s attention to the fact that two years ago when the Bermuda Housing Trust tried to impose huge rent increases on seniors in 82 units, the government sought to distance itself from the controversy and declined to intervene.

The United Bermuda Party Opposition led by John Barritt took up the cause of the seniors and launched a court action. The Government said at the time that we were playing politics with the issue. The court action was eventually settled on behalf of the protesting seniors, with the rent increases phased in over two years.

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The UBP have launched their YouTube channel, and added a section to their website with video content.

I've included the first three clips below, introducing some of their candidates in some of the key battleground areas. I won't be posting each parties ads over the course of the campaign, just the ones from both parties that are interesting:

Team UBP

The Voices of Warwick

The Voices of St. George's

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A reminder, that the final day to get on the Parliamentary Register for the election is one week today, Wednesday November 14th.

You can check your current registration online here.

You can access the registration forms here.

If you have any questions I'll do my best to assist or find out the answer.

Remember, 70 votes across a few constituencies was the difference last time.

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If you're sick of me pointing out the many parallels between current Bermuda and US politics, stop reading here.

I am a huge fan of Barack Obama. I don't know if he'll win the nomination, but I gravitate towards the TV when I hear his baritone and read everything that I can about him. Obama has always represented for me the right kind of politician; he is collaborative not combative, willing to stand on principle, refuses to pander, dumb down his message or play to people's base instincts as so many politicians do, isn't ashamed to be an intellectual, but most significantly, he embodies the future not the past.

Today, as Vexed Bermoothes picked up (presumably from one of my favourite US blogs, Andrew Sullivan), he delivered a speech which is oh so relevant to where we find ourselves today in Bermuda:

"I think there's no doubt that we represent the kind of change that Senator Clinton can't deliver on and part of it is generational. Senator Clinton and others, they've been fighting some of the same fights since the '60's and it makes it very difficult for them to bring the country together to get things done."

Feel familiar?

As I said in my Royal Gazette column today:

There’s only one party that, if we’re honest, knows that it has no option but to produce results, be collaborative, and move Bermuda out of a half century long racial/political argument that is going precisely nowhere.

Evidently Obama's been getting to me.

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It was very inconsiderate to call an election at peak reinsurance renewal season, so I'm going to be partaking in a study in sleep deprivation for the next several months. Let me know when I become truly incoherent.

But I suppose I can't complain, it's the most wonderful time of the year; elections and reinsurance renewal season are great fun for nerds like me.

So, I'll be producing as much content as I can here, but I wanted to remind readers of the other Bermuda sites in my Daily Reads links over at the left hand side (which includes a couple of non-Bermuda blogs).

In particular I've been enjoying:

Vexed Bermoothes, New Onion and 21 Square, as well as old favourite Limey in Bermuda who's back for more punishment.

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The Royal Gazette
Opinion (07 Nov. 2007)

The next six weeks will certainly be interesting ones in Bermuda, with the announcement that we’ll be going to the polls on December the 18th. If the tone set by the PLP in the first few days is any indication, the season to be jolly will be anything but.

Judging by the misinformation which is being furiously peddled in the wake of the damning leaked corruption investigation of our highest elected officials – which reached a fever pitch with Dr. Brown’s rant on Saturday night to the PLP Banquet – there is going to be the need for a serious fact checking element to this election.

The temptation to respond to each of the individual untruths, slurs and character attacks will be huge; the sheer volume will render that impossible.

Dr. Brown has kindly, and repeatedly, warned us to expect lies, personal attacks and hysteria. He neglected however to identify himself as the primary source. After the latest seething tirade against…well, the world, he should consider seeking professional help, and I don’t mean with speech writing.

The local media seem stunned by attack after attack, an orchestrated campaign to discredit them for doing their jobs as the Fourth Estate. Trying to prove their objectivity (as defined by those who seek anything but) by dedicating massive amounts of type copy to these very attacks, which they meekly point out are patently dishonest, unfair and overtly political will achieve nothing. Nothing, other than complete and total submission, will ever be enough.

Despite – or because of – the obviously rattled and weakened PLP leader, the opening days of the 2007 campaign have been very instructive. The PLP are demanding to be re-elected on the basis of a cult of personality; an apparently unquestionable, unaccountable, infallible leader with a weak Parliamentary group being dragged along for the ride.

What is striking isn’t the partisanship or the distortion; to that we’ve become accustomed. It’s the increasingly strident rhetoric, the extremism, the militancy, the fanaticism. Dr. Brown has become so deluded and isolated that he seems to think that his powers of persuasion are so great that he can change the facts; that he can continue to mislead the electorate over things as clear cut as the source of the leak, disillusioned PLP member Harold Darrell. He insists that this was, is, and always will be, a global UBP media conspiracy (hell, if they could pull that off they deserve to be Government). The mountains and mountains of evidence to the contrary serve only as a platform to shout even louder from. The extent of the dishonesty or the delusion is shocking.

It is evident that his electoral strategy is to pick fights; attack the UBP, attack the media, attack whistleblowers, attack anyone who dare have an independent thought or deviate from the mandated racial allegiance.

Dr. Brown is banking on the “a best defense is a strong offense” strategy and hopes to draw select individuals from the United Bermuda Party into personal grudge matches; with the electorate and their issues reduced to mere spectators.

So the tactics are clear. Sure they’ll sprinkle in some policy ideas here and there to provide a breather, but ultimately it’s a smear campaign – disguised as a response to a smear campaign. Brash, but not surprising.

The question then becomes what should the UBP do?

That’s simple. Dr. Brown and his party don’t set the agenda unless they’re allowed to. Not that they won’t continue to try.

The UBP shouldn’t be distracted from executing its own campaign. They should simply bypass the desperately shrill and increasingly irrelevant Ewart Brown and speak directly to the issues and how they will address them. Of course the lies, distortions and personal attacks can’t go without a swift and strong rebuttal, but if a personal fight is what he wants then he can shadow box his way out of a seat and his party right out of Government.

The lessons of the past decade are clear: it’s time for leadership that delivers more than scandals and spin. The serious social and economic issues which have exploded since the late 90s impact the lives of everyone living within our tiny 21 square miles.

There’s only one party that, if we’re honest, knows that it has no option but to produce results, be collaborative, and move Bermuda out of a half century long racial/political argument that is going precisely nowhere.

The United Bermuda Party cannot possibly be successful by polarizing the community around race or trying to build a cult of personality. They cannot demand a free pass for lack of performance and outright negligence with a cynical appeal to racial solidarity. They must be responsive.

The United Bermuda Party should run their own campaign built around the themes that they’ve been articulating consistently during their time in Opposition. They needed to spend some time out of Government reconnecting with the people, reassessing their core values, and finding that hunger to serve. This is time well spent for a party that governed for an unprecedented thirty plus years and laid the foundation and infrastructure that is the Bermuda of today; accomplishments that are dismissed as non-existent by Dr. Brown and his inner circle yet deserving of being renamed in the PLP’s image.

It is time for change, positive change, around issues of honesty, transparency and accountability in public life; not a self-aggrandising, self-indulgent, self-destructive cult of personality. Personality politics are not serving Bermuda well.

United Bermuda Party candidates don’t need to be drawn into a one on one fight with a flailing, embattled, discredited politician. Bermuda needs a cohesive team, a collection of individuals from a variety of backgrounds, both economic and social, who don’t want to connect with political punches, but one on one with their constituents. The way a party campaigns is how they will govern.

Political parties, MPs and Premiers come and go; but an entrenched, legislated culture of openness, transparency and accountability, complemented by a results driven Government, will go a long way to putting Bermuda on a steady footing as we look towards many more years of success.

An ever broadening cross section of Bermudians should be able to participate in this prosperous future; not just a narrow and rapidly out of touch political elite.

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Judge Kawaley today rejected (Gazette coverage) / (Bermuda Sun coverage) Dr. Brown's request for injunction in respects of his libel suit.

Full verdict is available here.

Key quote:

12.Granting the application, in my judgment, would have created the strong impression that the judicial arm of the Government had been co-opted by the executive branch of Government to effectively censor teh press. There was no or no adequate explanation for the delay in making the application for injunction relief, the BHC dossier could have been sought from the Commissioner of Police sooner, and the pending reasons of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the Commissioner of Police case would not materially impact on the disposition of the Plaintiff's substantive application. More importantly still, the case for interim injunction relief seemed extremely weak. It was difficult to see, bearing in mind that three courts had held that publication of further material from the BHC dossier was in the public interest (without prejudice to any damages claims), how an adjournment would assist the Plaintiff to obtain the interim relief he was seeking.

and


25. As I indicated in the course of the hearing, there may be cases where established principles must give way to new precedents. But the present application, brought (albeit in his private capacity), by a Premier who has just called a General Election is a manifestly inappropriate case in which to break free of all established precedent and grant revolutionary forms of press-stifling injunctive relief. Such a course would raise legitimate questions about the independence of the courts.

That means that barring appeal, the press have no restrictions on them...other than the usual responsibility to report fairly and accurately and not libel.

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I've spent the morning in court over the attempt by Dr. Brown to obtain an injunction against parts of the media, being the Gazette, the Mid Ocean and myself, with respects to the leaked files through a libel complaint.

A ruling will come at 2:30.

I don't have a lot of time right now but there were some pretty interesting exchanges:

The first request by the Premier was to adjourn the case for 8 weeks and continue a temporary gag order during that time. Hmmm, 8 weeks you say.

The court (Judge Kawaley) made it clear early on that it would not be party to a 'circus'.

The main contention of Charles Richardson on behalf of Dr. Brown was about a (ir)responsible media and the need for restraint against them.

At one point, as a 'halfway house', he requested that Dr. Brown be shown anything that the press was to publish prior to its publication so that he could make comment (or presumably file an injunction to prevent publication again). So, the Executive branch requested that the judicial branch grant them the authority to essentially have some editorial control over a free press.

Eventually, the arguments turned political and seemed to be designed for the public not the law, with Mr. Richardson arguing that the timing of the publications were designed to 'steal the general election' from his client (psst...he doesn't own the Government) and even the court had to point out that Dr. Brown himself had control over the timing of the calling of an election.

There was a fair amount of back and forth which was both interesting and entertaining.

The judgment will come in at 2:30.

Bear in mind that the court expressed concern that this process had already played itself out to a large extent in similar 'parallel proceedings', and that the Court of Appeals just happens to be sitting again this week, which Mr. Richardson hinted in court he would look to again if this ruling was adverse.

Check the Gazette, Sun and radio news for details.

Quite a few reporters were there.

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A reader writes on the first slur of the 2007 campaign:

What's interesting about the "mix up their box of colour crayons" comment is that it reveals the PLP's contempt for - rather than support for - multiracial solutions. Hasn't the PLP been telling us to seek out multiracial solutions in over to overcome our (supposedly) entrenched and antagonistic racial divides? Yet now they're criticizing the UBP for the very fact that It's multiracial? Hmm. If the PLP don't want solutions that use the full range of colours in Bermuda's "box of crayons," and instead just want every crayon in the box to be the same colour, then maybe they shouldn't be talking about "The Big Conversation" but rather "The Big Monochromaticization."

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The New Onion hits the nail on the head, in declaring today's word to be "Truthiness".

Watch Stephen Colbert's skit on what Truthiness is, and then apply it to Ewart Brown's speech to the PLP Banquet.

Here's what (out of character) Stephen Colbert said about "Truthiness" to The Onion (Satirical magazine) [emphasis Mine]:

Truthiness is tearing apart our country, and I don't mean the argument over who came up with the word…

It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that's not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything. It's certainty. People love the President because he's certain of his choices as a leader, even if the facts that back him up don't seem to exist. It's the fact that he's certain that is very appealing to a certain section of the country. I really feel a dichotomy in the American populace. What is important? What you want to be true, or what is true?

Truthiness is 'What I say is right, and [nothing] anyone else says could possibly be true.' It's not only that I feel it to be true, but that I feel it to be true. There's not only an emotional quality, but there's a selfish quality.

And here's what he says on the Right Wing's claims of media bias:

What the right-wing in the United States tries to do is undermine the press. They call the press "liberal," they call the press "biased," not necessarily because it is or because they have problems with the facts of the left—or even because of the bias for the left, because it's hard not to be biased in some way, everyone is always going to enter their editorial opinion—but because a press that has validity is a press that has authority. And as soon as there's any authority to what the press says, you question the authority of the government—it's like the existence of another authority. So that's another part of truthiness.

There's another great Colbert quote - from his routine at the White House Correspondents Dinner which will have its own Bermudian version during this election campaign, which the PLP appear to want to make about 50 year old grudges and an vastly exaggerated claim of media bias:

Reality has a well known liberal bias.

In our case, it will be that "reality has a well known anti-PLP bias".

This is textbook Republican campaign stuff we're about to witness over the next 7 weeks.

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In 2003 it was Uncle Toms, sunburns and Shysters, now, on day 2 of the 45 day campaign, it starts up again:

All the UBP has proven they know how to do is lie, hurl allegations after us, and mix up their box of color crayons to see who looks best in front of the camera from day to day

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There's been a lot of talk about why December 18th? Well, a couple of readers have written in with this observation:

Just a little trivia for those that are not aware, Dec 18th in 1865 was the date that slavery was abolished througout America.

It's the next logical extension of the 2003 slogan from Ewart Brown of Don't Vote Yourself Back on the Plantation, and remember, he views race from his American perspective.

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Keep this concept in mind while you read Ewart Brown's speech and the news over the course of the election campaign:

Swift Boating

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The Limey in Bermuda has returned, for now at least.

No comments this time though. Smart move.

Welcome back Phil. Watch your back.

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A reader goes down memory lane:

Interesting to read that Dr. Brown is calling Mr. Dunkley silly names ... Humpty Dunkley.

Shortly before the re-Invasion of Iraq ... was it in 2003? ... there was a protest march from Hamilton, up past the U.S. Consulate in Devonshire, and then into the Arboretum where there was an open-mike.

One of the people in the park, who did not march there so far as I know, was Dr. Brown. Dr. Brown went to the microphone and told a belittling personal joke about President George W. Bush that somehow suggested that the Bush Presidential Library would contain colouring books ... Embarrassed laughter greeted the "joke".

It was written about in the Mid-Ocean News, article: "Same old make love not war ..." [article not online].

I had to wonder if Dr. Condoleeza Rice knew about that ill-mannered humour from a Cabinet member of the Bermuda Government when Dr. Brown was courting her in Washington D.C. recently.

I remembered hearing about that, but had never been able to find the article itself. I'm no fan of George W. Bush, but for a member of our Government to make that kind of statement at a public forum was simply appalling.

Respect is a one way street it seems.

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A reader writes on name calling:

Aside from the obvious hypocrisy that you've cited, there's a more fundamental problem here: in what way does calling Ewart Brown 'selfish' in his motives for, and timing of a General Election amount to 'name-calling', juvenile or otherwise? Is it any different than, say, calling him 'untrustworthy', 'power-obsessed' or 'ineffectual', all of which are legitimate criticisms?

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And it begins....

Within hours of the election writ being dropped the PLP kicks things off with another of their nameless website hit pieces, this one called "Double Talk Dunkley".

You don't need to read more than the first paragraph to see the tone of campaign that the PLP intend to run:


Double Talk Dunkley resorted to juvenile name calling in the same speech where he promised to rise above the politics of personal destruction. Unbelievable. Double Talk Dunkley can't be trusted.

Ok, let's dismiss the low hanging fruit first.

Firstly, common decency demands that you don't attack someone personally under the byline of "Submitted by PLP". Let's at least have the maturity and guts to put a name on this, and not hide behind a website. To do otherwise is cowardly.

Secondly, criticising someone for name calling, while beginning your hit piece with name calling doesn't really seize the high ground does it?

Thirdly, we might recall that only a month or so ago, Dr. Brown was delivering a speech at the rally where he was talking about Humpty Dunkley. That would be both juvenile (by definition) and name calling.

The hypocrisy is simply astounding. Double talk? More like double standards.

It then goes on one of the usual rants about the UBP.

Dr. Brown has repeatedly warned about a dirty campaign, lies and hysteria, but the UBP have stayed very measured through the whole BHC saga of the past 4 or 5 months. The hysteria has been entirely from the PLP camp, culminating in the disgraceful Main Event rally which was a case study in vicious personal attacks and character assassination.

There have been some big lies coming out from the PLP lately, but particularly in the wake of the leaked Police files. Namely that Dr. Brown was exonerated; that it was a UBP orchestrated leak (yesterday's Mid Ocean story would - in a normal world - end that lie) and Dr. Brown even had to fabricate a non-existent milk monopoly story about the UBP and Dunkley's Dairy (legislation both parties supported and which actually protected farmers from monopolistic dairies).

This is only going to get worse though as the 7 week campaign progresses. In fact, the PLP have been pretty wound up since Dr. Brown took over, and the problem is that you can't keep escalating this kind of rhetoric without completely losing credibility.

Now on to what this is really about.

The last sentence of the first paragraph says "Double Talk Dunkley can't be trusted."

The PLP are aware that the public (and apparently many in the party) have trust issues about their leader, so they're trying to create some about Michael Dunkley and turn this into a one on one battle, which it is not.

Despite the flights of fancy of some, this isn't a Presidential election.

The hysteria, lies and politics of personal destruction were Dr. Brown and his inner circle's response to the leaked Police files.

These are only the earliest days of this campaign. That kind of start on the PLP's website doesn't bode well.

The UBP should stay above the fray and not take the bait. The PLP want a drag down knock down nasty fight, but they want to transfer their tactics onto the other side.

If they start this way, imagine how they'll have to finish?

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The Premier has called the election for Dec. 18th.

I'm a little surprised, in that the Throne Speech today was very underwhelming, not quite what you'd expect to be the launch of an election campaign.

But there it is.

As I said this morning:

"The ultimate way to stop an imminent revolt is to call an election."

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Sort of off topic, but I thought it an interesting tidbit.

A Rolling Stones tribute band is playing tomorrow night apparently, which is funny considering that the real drummer of the Stones, Charlie Watts, was having dinner with his family at Speciality Inn last night.

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Nice to see the private-but-obviously-for-public-consumption email from the Premier on the front page of the paper today, telling his party (and disenchanted traditional PLP voters) to lie their way through another election and attempt to replace him later...

Or said another way....

Hold you nose and vote PLP, then you can try (and I repeat try) and remove me afterwards.

Desperation time.

As I said in my Gazette piece a week or so ago, the best way to stop internal revolts is to keep his party in a constant campaign.

The ultimate way to stop an imminent revolt is to call an election.

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Well, well. The Son of the Soil has stepped forward today in The Mid Ocean News, for the 2 people who didn't know (and those who wanted to pretend it was all orchestrated by the UBP).

As The Mid Ocean doesn't go online until Sundays, you'll have to fork over your 80 cents. Go on. It's worth it.

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