December 2007 Archives

I'm on vacation, really I am, but Kevin Mayall of AG Research has created some geographic maps to display election related data that are interesting.

That's all from me. Back to my book.

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The Royal Gazette
Opinion (19 Dec. 2007)

Election 2007 is now in the history books and most of us will be at least pleased that this campaign is behind us and that we can look towards the holidays.

1998 was for all intents and purposes a two-term victory for the PLP.

Yesterday was the first real measure of political sensibilities in the new Bermuda.

While 2003 was close, something would have had to have gone terribly wrong for the electorate to vote out the PLP then.

For most observers then, and I include many in the PLP in this, this election result is a bit of a surprise.

With all of the talk in the press — both attributed and un-attributed — to the style and substance of Dr. Brown's leadership, continuing un-resolved scandals and his closed style of governance, it is surprising that there was no erosion of support for the PLP in this election.

It is apparent that there was nothing that the UBP as a party could have done, said or promised in this campaign which would have created a national move toward them.

They ran a good clean campaign focused on the issues. But this election had nothing to do with policy, nothing to do with debate.

It has sent a clear message that party affiliation reigns supreme and that Government reform, openness and accountability is not an issue for a portion of the electorate.

What it came down to in the end was what separates the two parties in Bermuda, and that's not policy. On policy there are differences, but this was about something else.

The UBP is a political party. That might seem like a dumb statement because the PLP is a political party as well.

Right? Technically yes. But ultimately the PLP sees itself and presents itself as a movement; mobilising that movement at election time is something they are very effective at.

The ability to tug on the heartstrings of that movement at election time is incredibly powerful.

Dr. Brown's campaign was effective at convincing his party's core support to come home and vote party despite the rancour of the past few years.

This strategy was not a secret; Dr. Brown said as much at his party's final rally when he urged the party faithful to "forget how you feel about personalities" and vote PLP at yesterday's General Election.

Dr. Brown's campaign was actually quite simple, driven by a few core messages of a vast white and media conspiracy designed to take him in particular down, and by extension all black Bermudians, while touting his party's accomplishments and attempting to portray the alternative as a return to slavery, as one of his candidates put it.

Boiled down, the strategy was to hide Dr. Brown and his inner-circle, destroy Michael Dunkley, hype minor achievements and race, race, race. The PLP stayed religiously on message.

This political campaign presented two distinctly different choices, as evidenced by the way they conducted their campaigns.

The UBP ran a conventional issue oriented campaign which stuck doggedly to their governing philosophy and platform proposals, the PLP on the other hand adopted an intensive North American negative campaign.

As ugly as negative campaigning is, it can be very effective and undoubtedly contributed heavily to the atmosphere on the island during the past seven weeks.

The tone was incredibly shrill and the willingness to dissemble and distort was remarkable as well as engage in some extremely distasteful racial baiting and stereotyping.

There was no way that the UBP could have conducted a similar campaign.

What was created was a climate which was very hostile to open political discussion but drove people back to their relevant party allegiances.

Race continues to dominate our political scene, and party loyalty trumps performance.

Bermuda remains polarised and there is a segment of the community which wants only one thing from their vote.

Dr. Brown's strategy was to amplify that polarisation, and he succeeded.

Combine that with boundaries which are unfavourable to the UBP, as evidenced by a second election with significant disparities between seat allocation and popular vote distribution and you have a formula which will be very difficult to overcome in the near-term.

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As I said last night, I'm now officially on holiday for awhile.

Enjoy the holidays.

Ho, ho, ho.

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Close the book on this one. No-one could read it apparently, and it's essentially un-changed.

I think it's safe to say people on all sides are a little surprised that there was very little movement away from the PLP. Nothing at all really.

Accountability and government reform in Bermuda politics is officially dead.

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It looks like the final count with be 22-14, which is a push.

The parties traded 2 seats, with the UBP taking 2 in St. George's and the PLP taking St. David's and Southampton.

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The Royal Gazette

The Bermuda Sun

Parliamentary Registrar

I'm watching TV with limited internet access so I'm of no use to you tonight.

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Faith based everything man and Dr. Brown's campaign manager Andre Curtis proves that he really is a man of faith:

I've done my homework and I predict 28 seats.

28? That's about 27 more seats than tourists he produced.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Dr. Brown has trimmed his 30 seat prediction down to 'a respectable margin'.

Tonight's counts will be interesting.

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Spinning to the very end.

Astute readers will notice that Derrick Burgess came out today in the Gazette and at the last minute now puts Permanent Resident Certificate holders at 1,700, down from the ridiculous 8,000 number and then the 4,000 number, and any other inflated number they could come up with.

But that hasn't stopped them from running their full page newspaper ad again today with 8,000.

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Turnout was pretty high in Constituency 9 this morning at 8AM, slow moving through the polling station though with only two tables set up (A-M) and (N-Z).

For some reason the second half of the alphabet seemed to be sleeping in so there were about 30 (A-M)'s people in line.

Stay tuned this evening for results.

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A quick update on this site, post the December 18th election.

I'll be taking a break for the holidays and through the New Year as I usually do. I'm not sure what format the site will take when I come back, if I come back. I'll see how I feel in January.

Maybe we'll all be able to bitch about the UBP for awhile.

If I do return, the site will probably move away from so much opinion and in a slightly different direction.

But I need a break, it's been high gear for the better part of a couple of years and I've got a huge stack of books I've been meaning to read for a long long time and a family who I owe some attention.

So a pre-election thanks to all my readers, including those who slag me off.

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I'll be offline during the day on Tuesday, and hopefully there won't be anything to comment on anyway as voting is conducted uneventfully.

During the evening I'll try and post updates as they come through, but I can't make any promises on my connectivity during the evening and would direct you to the TV stations, radio stations, and online at The Royal Gazette and the Bermuda Sun.

I also have 400 words to fill for the Gazette in Wednesday's paper (why did I agree to that?) which will have to come together before midnight.

I won't make any predictions for tomorrow, other than that I'm cautiously optimistic. Saying that, I would like to say that the UBP candidates ran a campaign they can be proud of.

I'm sure it was difficult not to respond in kind to what was being thrown at them on a daily basis, but they stayed true to their word and kept it clean. My hope is that the weight of the arguments and respectful tone of their campaign contrasted sharply with the lack of policy arguments and disrepectful approach by Dr. Brown's side will give the public a clear choice.

I am getting the sense that there is a desire for change in the community, which when combined with a palpable dissatisfaction with Dr. Brown's style of leadership, scandals and the PLP's negative campaign could give the UBP what they need to take 5 more seats and hold their current ones.

There's a lot of unknowns however, with seats which have only been tested once, new candidates and 3,000 new voters.

Tomorrow will be interesting and for many can't come fast enough so we can put the vitriol behind us and look towards the holidays.

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The PLP tonight put up a piece which is a truly, truly, pathetic demonstration of their complete and utter rejection of honesty and decency during this campaign.

They lied, distorted, misrepresented, insulted and slurred from day 1 to day 49.

It's childish, school boy stupidity, and something no self-respecting political party should associate themselves with. I'm not sure why they chose this course. They didn't have to. They did themselves, Bermuda, but mostly their party, a disservice.

I'm actually embarrassed for them.

What a disgrace Dr. Brown's entire campaign was. They did nothing to further Bermuda and Bermudians, discuss issues or bring us together.

This isn't high school.

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Two final videos from the UBP. These will air tonight on TV.

I ended up posting more official material than I'd anticipated during the past 7 weeks, but Dr. Brown's strategy was to create so much background noise that any real discussion was impossible. So I felt the need to try and assist in cutting through that noise.

Thanks for bearing with me.

Final Press Conference

We are Team UBP

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Several people have filled me in on an individual standing in the driving rain and wind this morning at the bottom of Collector's Hill, brandishing a sign that read:

"Low Cost Housing", complete with an arrow pointing towards Dr. Brown's house on AP Owen Road.

What a nutty election this has been.

Hopefully tomorrow Bermudians vote for change tomorrow and we can return to sanity and tolerance.

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A reader writes on who had the commitment to wave through the rain:

They were out this election eve greeting motorists coming into town.

Those dressed in green standing with Johnny Barnes.

Those dressed in blue standing by Johnny Barnes' statue.

When the rains came, who were the first to run for cover?

Trust the stalwart true blues to stand firm and laughingly weather the storm .

A sign of the times?

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A reader writes on the PLP's misleading over new Bermudians:

One thing that seems to be missing from the PLP's comments on potentially granting status to PRC's is the impact that independence would have on that same group. Granted the PLP's numbers are completely erroneous [when the concept of PRC was first introduced there were, according to the government's own figures, approximately 1,900 potential PRC's on the island]. If Bermuda were to become independent all PRC's, and probably their children, would end up with citizenship. In the past the UK has insisted that a condition of independence for former colonies is that they grant citizenship to anyone that has been resident more than six years (hence the six year term limits). This should result in far more new Bermudians than simply granting status to PRC's.

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A reader writes on Dr. Brown's final speech:

It seems to me that he spent a lot of time talking about what a PLP government "will be" instead of what it "has been" -- which is a bit odd for an incumbent with any significant track record. A bit like saying "ignore our actions, and trust our words."

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The United Bermuda Party have responded to the Premier's last ditch plea for support:

Tonight, Ewart Brown went on television and once again tried to mislead the voters.

• That he could say the negative character of the election has been the responsibility of others is a joke. The Premier set the tone on Day 1 and Day 2 of this campaign with extreme rhetoric. His operatives have followed his lead with personal attack ads, distortion, fear mongering and lies. Dr. Brown must take personal responsibility for the deeply negative quality of this election. No one else. He is the leader of the PLP. He set the direction and has approved everything that has gone on.

• Dr, Brown’s disagreement with us on a tax cut speaks to the gap that has grown between the PLP Government and ordinary hard-working Bermudians, who clearly need relief from Bermuda’s high cost of living. No issue shows the difference between the two parties more than this one.

• Dr. Brown’s attempt to mislead and spread fear among voters on an immigration issue is simply a desperate attempt to cling to power. To say that the UBP plans to grant status to 8,000 people is a totally over-the-top distortion of our position. We have said we will study the issue of long-term residents in the name of family unity. Nothing, we repeat nothing that comes out of this study would happen without full approval of the Legislature.

• Finally, that Dr. Brown would hide behind the words of a UK Government minister to say that the BHC scandal has been thoroughly investigated is deeply ironic. All Bermudians know that the BHC scandal, with its allegations of public funds being used for private gain, remains a huge cloud over the heads of Dr. Brown and many of his colleagues. No one should cast a vote on Tuesday without thinking of the BHC scandal, where it appears that public money allocated to house the needy went missing, and that Dr. Brown has done everything in his power to stop people from knowing the truth of the matter.

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The old joke about how do you know when a politician is lying is no longer a joke after this election campaign. (Answer: his lips are moving...now watch Dr. Brown's closing speech).

The closing rally cry from the PLP is nothing but a big, really big and easily debunked lie.

The latest lie and scare tactic is to grossly distort a minor UBP agenda item and twist it into a threat to give status to up to 8,000 foreigners and dilute "Bermudians'" vote (codeword alert for "Bermudians").

Essentially the UBP have promised to review the specifics of Permanent Residency for a very small number of people, and the PLP predictably blew that into a complete and utter lie of the UBP trying to create 8,000 new Bermudians and play to a xenophobic element.

Patricia Gordon-Pamplin released a statement yesterday addressing the lie.

Let's dispel the 'up to 8,000' lie with some basic math that begins with there being about 9,000 work permits in force:

A few general numbers:

Bermuda's population = approx. 65,000
Bermudian adults = approx. 42,000 (number of reg. voters)
Bermudian children = approx 10,500 (est. of 25% of reg. voters)
Work permit holders = approx 9,000
Dependents of work permit holders = approx 3,500 (diff b/w Bdian adults, children and work permit holders).

So maximum there are about 12,500 non-Bermudians in total, including children and spouses - those who arrived decades ago and those who arrived yesterday.

The UBP suggested conditions would be as follows:

Accordingly, the United Bermuda Party supports the granting of Bermuda Status to long-term residents who were here prior to the moratorium imposed in 1989, who have had 20 years continuous qualifying residency subject to certain conditions.

So of my estimated 12,500 non-Bermudians, you'd have to have been here before 1989 with 20 years continuous residency.

Now, Government's own argument in defence of 6 year term limits was that so few expats make it to 6 years, let alone 20, that term limits would have no impact.

Now they're busy suggesting that about 2/3rds of non-Bermudians have been here pre-1989.

How do you know when a politician is lying?

Reason isn't going to deter them spreading this lie for the next 24 hours. One hopes that the press don't help spread yet another campaign lie.

The headlines on this should read: "PLP grossly distort minor UBP agenda item".

I'm not sure why the UBP Agenda for Change even mentioned immigration at all. Whatever they said would be turned into a xenophobic rallying cry anyway.

But I think that the PLP have run such a shrill campaign for 7 weeks that most people have simply shut it out now. And they've distorted and dissembled so much that I doubt that many voters actually take their statements seriously anymore.

I think this is a desperate last gasp.

Tuesday is going to be close, but there seems to be a growing vocalization that it's time for a change and a move to send a strong message of displeasure with Dr. Brown's nasty election campaign and confrontational style.

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Tonight's "Special Address" from the PLP's leader was special alright.

It was unabashed and unapologetic political BS. An insult to every Bermudian's intelligence.

The music throughout was, well, it was the most fluffy "aren't I just sweetness and light" new age nonsense one can imagine. It was absurd and distracting, because it was in stark contrast to the entire negative tone of the PLP's campaign and Dr. Brown's personal combative style of governance every Bermudian is familiar with.

The music was too conspicuous and drew attention to how inappropriate it was for the man delivering the speech.

And then there was the message.

A recycling of campaign talking points, this time delivered in a non-aggressive style by the Premier himself.

The content? Completely defensive and reactionary. 36 hours before an election and the incumbent party uses their final speech for a point by point rebuttal of the other side's proposals (with the big 8,000 lie) and also a rebuttal of the Reality on Independence Group and the continuing BHC fallout? Not a confident move.

Few reasons on why you should vote for Dr. Brown's party, and they got passing mention. No focus on Dr. Brown's platform issues, just a direct rebuttal of key planks of the UBP's Agenda for Change that the PLP oppose, tax cuts and tougher stances on crime in particular, independence and corruption reform.

And then, if they hadn't already jumped the shark with the choice of music, another attempt to suggest that the negative campaigning came from others, not his campaign.

"Negative spaces"? What type of bizarre term is that? The campaign didn't "venture into negative spaces", it was driven there by Dr. Brown's campaign daily, reaching a deafening crescendo with the puppet ad and drug dealer slur, a new low in Bermuda politics.

A very un-Bermudian move by Dr. Brown's campaign that disgusted many Bermudians.

The close was a call for unity that came across as insincere, disingenuous and shallow after 7 weeks of carefully calculated and orchestrated attempts to divide.

This was a plea from a party that is worried that Bermudians are ready to vote against them, not one from a party confident people will vote for them.

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The Royal Gazette's webmaster has asked me to post the following info on the Denial of Service attacks against their website over the past few days:

"If anyone has information about the people who are attacking The Royal Gazette, please contact the webmaster at webmaster@royalgazette.bm. All information will be held strictly confidential."

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With only a few days to go, it's not hard to summarize the PLP's strategy, which they followed with religious zeal, as:

1) Hide Dr. Brown
2) Hype minor policy intiatives
3) Destroy Michael Dunkley
4) Race, race, race

Conversely the UBP focused on:

1) Team
2) We will deliver/targeted policy initiatives vs 9 years of empty promises
3) Change
4) Hope not hate/trust/respect

The UBP team's has refused to get dragged down into the gutter which amplified the PLP's negativity, combativeness and exploiting of the past. The UBP comes across as issue driven, collaborative and future focused.

No amount of screaming 'they fought dirty' by Dr. Brown's troops can overcome that. They didn't.

The UBP ran what will go down as one of the most high road campaigns ever conducted. It was a smart choice to not respond in kind to the PLP's non-stop assault.

I believe that the public has noticed.

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The Bermuda Sun columnists were firing on all cylinders today:

Stuart Hayward

Is civility to be abandoned in the interest of scoring political points, no matter the damage that barbaric language and symbolism might have on our children and our community in general?

Are we to have racial tensions further exploited from finger-pointing and hints of vengeance under the guise of "conversation"? Are threats and payback to be the way power is wielded? It's time to see whether the UBP has learned the lesson we taught them in 1998.

They now know, and we know, that we can take them out again if need be.

It's time also to remind the PLP that we don't want to spend the coming years in racial or diplomatic intimidation and turmoil.

Violence and vengeance, whether in words, deeds or spirit, are not what Bermuda is about.

Tom Vesey

The PLP leadership is forcing Bermudians back into traditional racial camps, from which no progress can be made. The UBP, meanwhile, has a detailed agenda for promoting equality and opportunity, while speaking with the respect and tolerance that a modern, diverse society requires. These are strange and disturbing times we live in, where the "progressives" are reactionary, and the "conservatives" are progressive.

But our only choice next Tuesday is between the UBP and the PLP as we currently find them - not as they once were, and not as we wish they would be.

And that's why I'm going to vote this year for the UBP.

Larry Burchall


Those old tactics of scare and scatter that worked so well from 1963 to 1998 are now unlikely to work as they once did. Now they might even work in reverse. This new electorate is more discriminating, more thoughtful, more knowledgeable, and far less fearful.

...

In 2007, every voter knows that on December 19, 2007, that " lucky ol' sun" will simply rise on another new Bermuda day with another set of Bermudian faces newly responsible for ongoing Bermuda government. In this election, despite strong efforts to paint black majority Bermudians as victims in their own society, despite strenuous efforts to conjure up new 'boogeymen', most intelligent people know that 'boogeymen' are not real.

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Bumper day in the Bermuda Sun today.

They have a number of excellent Opinions, as well as a revealing article which interviewed a number of observors. The verdict? The climate is for change and against Dr. Brown and the status quo.

Barclay Carmichael, a former BIU shop steward, really gets to the core of what this election is about: Values.

Barclay Carmichael, former shop steward of the BIU, and one time staunch PLP supporter, said: "This country needs a change and it needs one now. The Government's performance over a nine-year period has been simply unsatisfactory.

"Whether they [Government figures] have acted unethically, or unwisely, or simply unacceptably, there are just too many questions regarding their conduct, both professionally and personally.

"We need to reshape the politics of Bermuda to fit an evolving world. We are living in yesterday, and it's time to move forward. This has gone beyond parties, and beyond any solid issues, it's now about values.

"Bermudians have to ask themselves: 'What are my core values? Can I endorse some of the things and the attitudes that have gone on?' All the rest - the speeches, the manifestos - that's all window dressing. People now have to ask what kind of core values they want for Bermuda's future."

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Very interesting that The Royal Gazette's repeated web outages of the past few days appear to be a coordinated Denial of Service web attack.

Very interesting.

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It all starts to take shape:

Larry Smith, the former narcotics chief accused of smearing Opposition Leader Michael Dunkley, has applied to be the next Police Deputy Commissioner. It's understood Mr. Smith, who retired last year, has put in an application to replace Roseanda Young who leaves at the end of the month — even though the post has yet to be advertised.

The Royal Gazette understands the application has generated derision within the force.

The conspiracy theorists would say the arrangement was: smear Michael Dunkley and in return ....well, there's a job vacancy.

There's the pesky problem of the Governor making the appointment, and that no-one in their right mind would hire someone who has just blown all sorts of professional ethical standards, but those are minor details.

And if you thought recruitment and officer retention was difficult now, let's just say... it would get worse, much, much worse.

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Five years later and the whole BHC scandal is still looming over the electorate and certain politicians heads as we head to the polls.

Last week the Mid Ocean News ran another set of stories (here and here ) based on some new documents which they received, separate from the Son of the Soil files.

Today, the Minister responsible for Housing, Sen. Burch, has issued a statement disputing the content of the story and calling for a retraction.

I think it's safe to say that at this point the public don't know what to believe anymore but they know that something went on. Lawsuits, retractions aren't going to change that.

The only way we are ever going to put this to bed is to have an independent enquiry and a proper forensic accounting.

It is wrong if people are being unfairly accused (although they never addressed the allegations specifically), but also wrong that a proper investigation of the apparent misuse of public funds has never occurred.

Bermuda needs to follow the lead of the Cayman Islands, who today appointed a Commission of Enquiry to look into the removal of some documents from their Ministry of Tourism, as well as other issues.

The enquiry will be made public.

The UBP have promised this if they win the election, and the PLP should do the same so that the endless speculation and surfacing of new information can end and we can put a full stop on this chapter of Bermuda's political history.

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The UBP are running a pretty powerful new ad, with 5 of their candidates going directly at the racial attacks that have marred this campaign.

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A reader writes:

The two letters between Premier and Opposition are very telling.

Dunkley initiated it with an open proposal to "appeal to supporters of all parties to tone down the rhetoric and commit to conducting the rest of this election campaign in a respectful and tolerant manner". Fullstop.

Brown's response was to agree and follow up with requesting Dunkley publicly condemn a specific special interest group whose interest is against independence and contrary to Brown's intentions. Otherwise Brown will not play.

So Brown took an open gesture of good will and fair play and saw an opportunity to paint his political opponent into a corner on a specific issue. What makes it worse is his choice of vehicle for this request is an ultimatum - "if we can agree on this point in your advocated 'spirit of goodwill', I think we can move forward...".

I think that speaks volumes on what you can expect from the two would-be leaders in how they will conduct business with you.

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A reader expresses what is a very widely held sentiment (I've cleaned up the language):

I can't take it anymore.

I just want my chance to have my say. I don't want to see any of the negative ads anymore - they're un-Bermudian.

Play tough, but fair.

Yet Dr. Brown responds to Michael Dunkley's call for him to renounce his negative campaign and his party's incendiary tactics by posturing with a cynical redirection; attempting to shift the focus to random individuals on the Internet and the independent (yet unhelpful in my view) Reality on Independence group - not his party's official campaign.

Sad.

The PLP's official campaign has produced:

- push polls
- racially incendiary ads about flogging and hanging
- the racially stereotyping Puppet Show segment
- ran radio (and Google) ads that "Michael Dunkley is out to get you"
- knowingly misrepresented the 3 strikes proposal as life sentences
- has trotted out candidates to accuse the UBP of wanting to enslave people and lock everyone up

And that's just a start.

December 18th can't come fast enough. Bermuda needs tolerance and collaboration, not intolerance and brinkmanship.

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The United Bermuda Party today laid out their hit list for the first 100 days.

Watch it below, read the statement here, or I've bulleted the list below:



Within the first 100 days in office, the United Bermuda Party Government will

- We will eliminate the payroll tax for people earning less than $42,000 per year. That will happen on April 1st.

- Break ground on the first homes for affordable rent.

- We will immediately start recruiting Police to get manpower numbers to put more Police on the streets.

- The St. George’s Police Station will open April 1st. Ground will be broken on a Warwick Police Station, and community policing will start with a minimum of one Constable per parish.

- During the first 100 days, we will immediately set up the Office of Economic Empowerment.

- We will restore open tendering for government contracts. There will be no more secret tendering. The process will be open to all.

- We will start allocating 20% of all Government contracts in construction and supplies to small businesses. This is a massive commitment that can put into the hands of small businessmen and women up to $70 million a year.

- We will reopen the free Medical Clinic in January, making it possible for people most in need of assistance to once again get the care they need.

- We will take steps for the appointment of a non-political Attorney General.

- We will release reports kept secret from the public.

- We will introduce Freedom of Information legislation, to guarantee public access to public information.

- We will strengthen the Office of the Auditor General to ensure it has the resources and the mandate to effectively oversee government spending.

- In the first sitting of the House of Assembly, we will repeal immigration legislation that discriminates against Bermudians married to non-Bermudians.

- We will make GPS optional for taxi drivers. By April 1st, they will have fuel rebates.

- We will begin education reform.

- During the next school term, we will institute free bus and ferry passes for all school children.

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The Google policy geek over at Vexed Bermoothes has been tackling some of the parties platform positions - and notable omissions - in a series of posts.

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From the Department of Incredibly Conspicuous Spelling Mistakes (and lazy blogger cheap-shots), comes the PLP's press conference transcript today entitled:

Educaiton/Finance Press Conference Comments

"Educaiton."

That just about sums up the problem.

[Update: It was corrected within an hour]

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Watch how this:

"I'm happy to answer any questions anybody has at any time because I realise that as a public official I can't hide behind things."

Michael Dunkley (UBP Leader)

Gets twisted into this:

Progressive Labour Party chairman David Burt has described Mr. Dunkley as "a desperate politician who is now visibly in a state of panic" over allegations contained in the video on YouTube.

....

"It is now the UBP Leader's signature modus operandi to use smear as a first resort when faced with an inconvenient truth."

David Burt (PLP Chairman)

The spurious allegations by the former officer have been swiftly discredited by the Gazette yesterday and ZBM news on Monday evening.

Not to be deterred, the smear campaign continues unabated.

The UBP are absolutely right to call on Dr. Brown to put an end to his party's negative campaign.

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I attended the UBP's platform launch yesterday, lurking at the back of the room, because I don't really do rallies. It was interesting, with some good speeches on their governing philosophy as well as specifics of their Agenda for Change.

The videos are posted on their YouTube channel if you're interested.

I did though want to single out a new ad, which is part two of their "Team UBP" series, which I found very effective. A number of their candidates speak about why they got involved in politics, but just as importantly, the conflicted emotions and disenchantment with politics and this campaign that voters are feeling.

I don't want to pander, but everyone comes across as sincere, well-meaning and wanting to bring people together. It contrasts sharply with the mean-spirited, over the top and divisive rhetoric coming from the other side throughout this campaign, as evidenced by last night's they want to 'return the shackles to our feet' attack.

They continue to run the exact campaign that they should. They have been consistently baited into an all out racial brawl, but have rejected it, conducting themselves in a measured, thoughtful and respectful manner, asking for your vote not expecting it.

What the public chooses is up to them in a week. But the contrasts couldn't be more clear.

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The PLP must be trying to turn around their record on the environment through recycling; recycling tired old election slurs that is.

Last night's rally had more hyperbole, to go with their Southampton candidate's 'they're neo-fascists who want to lock everyone up' nonsense.

Evidently it's contagious. This time the PLP's St. David's candidate is at it.

I don't know what's more worrying. That they actually believe this, or that they say it knowing it's patently untrue:

Earlier that night, Lovitta Foggo, PLP candidate for St. David's said a vote for the UBP was a vote for slavery and a return to the plantation.

"We must hasten to employ measures which ensure that our people and our children know that a UBP vote is a vote back to the plantation. It is a vote that will return the shackles to our feet!

Yeah. That's right. All those black UBP candidates want to enslave themselves. What nonsense. Shouldn't this immediately disqualify someone from holding public office?

Perpetuating this nonsense for future generations is extremely destructive for Bermuda. It's time for politicians grounded in the present not the past.

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A reader writes on Chapter 1493 of the Bermuda Cement Company saga, seems they took my advice (ahem) and extended this until after the election and into the new year:

The cement crisis is most revealing. A week ago the Government was boasting they will buy BCC and put in a caretaker. Today Wedco, the Government and BCC put out an announcement that BCC can continue for another month. So all this bravado about a new company taking over was BS - surprise.

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Both platforms (I won't say Manifesto, I hate that word) are out now.

The UBP's is here.

The PLP's is here.

My first reaction?

The UBP's is more ambitious. And considering that the PLP are so vocal about how screwed up the UBP left Bermuda, they don't want to change much.

Dr. Brown said as much in his introduction:

We make no grandiose promises in this platform.

But comparatively, both offer a lot of new government services. There are some similarities (bearing in mind the UBP rolled out the core of theirs 6 weeks ago) and the PLP appear to have done a "me-too Plus".

The main differences? Well, there are three that I find significant.

Firstly, the UBP have spoken to cutting Government spending and waste to fund these new intitiatives while Dr. Brown said they have no idea about what some of these things will cost.

Asked how much it would cost, Dr. Brown said: “We do not have a figure but guess what? Whatever it costs we will do it.”

Secondly, the UBP's is far more comprehensive and targeted to tackle crime and couple that with rehabilitation.

Thirdly, and glaringly, the UBP has a comprehensive plan for Government reform to make it more open, transparent and accountable. That's about the only area that the PLP haven't tried to mimic.

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A reader hits the obvious fatal flaws of the drug dealer smear:

First point, he's [Larry Smith] effectively making allegations that Dunkley interfered with a narcotics investigation. Is this his way of going on the record?! It would be useful if he went to the police or used a more public forum. Actually stating his name and rank within the police force may help. Oh, right, he can't go to the police because their actions have lead him to believe that senior people are in on some Dunkley cover-up conspiracy! Apparently it's no use going to the recognized media on the island either because of course they would never investigate or report on such an allegation!

Beyond that, he's trying to lead people to believe that Dunkley hangs out with drug dealers, may have actually profited from shipments that MAY have occurred although no evidence is available to say that shipments actually did occur or who if any beyond those convicted may have been involved.

Most bizarre was his comment where it was HIS decision not to investigate Dunkley but to investigate AROUND him!? There is nothing here to say that Dunkley at any point in time was seriously considered as a suspect in the Bermuda illegal narcotics trade but he sure leads you on to make that connection.

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Not that much of a surprise, pretty predictable actually, but Dr. Brown's gutter campaign is having another shot at the Dunkley's dairy drug case.

This time they appear to have rolled out a former Police Officer involved in the drug case of two Dunkley's Dairy employees in a highly produced YouTube video (no link here as it's probably defamatory) with the intention to spread rumour and innuendo that the now Leader of the Opposition was involved in a crime that occurred at his dairy; a case which he assisted in and where two individuals were successfully prosecuted in court.

It's a weak attempt to immunize the scandal plagued Premier and distract the public. The PLP campaign is hyper-focused on Michael Dunkley, because their leader is scandal plagued, they need to make the UBP team look exclusively white and they must be stressed about his prospects for taking that seat.

But could they get their smear straight? The PLP really need to decide if Michael Dunkley wants to lock up drug dealers forever, or is a drug dealer himself. At least be consistent.

Last week he was a neo-fascist law and order nut? Which one is it?

Brace yourselves. It's throw everything and hope something sticks time, but this is really, really weak...and desperate.

The video actually raises more questions about Larry Smith's meandering memory and why he didn't speak up at the time in a case which he thought was being interfered with than anything else. Surely he should have spoken up then, not years later.

Dr. Brown's campaign is completely hollow. This is sheer desperation.

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In a campaign that has been saturated with polls, the Bermuda Sun ran another on Friday, conducted by a Canadian firm.

This one has the race in a dead heat, which is in line with the two polls that the UBP has released, and shows a markedly different situation than the poll that Gazette ran last week.

It's hard to make sense of things when you have had 5 polls conducted by 5 different firms at five different times, but the RG's poll is clearly an outlier.

Why? I'm not sure. But it shows a markedly different situation than every other poll and also something that social scientists would hate - what things feel like on the ground.

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Dr. Brown's nasty un-Bermudian campaign continues to plumb new depths, as evidenced by his party's Puppet slur advertisement against UBP candidate Wayne Scott.

Negativity in political campaigns is nothing new, but what has been surprising in this campaign is that a party itself is so proudly producing such Americanized gutter material. The big difference is that in US campaigns you normally try to put some distance between the official candidate/party and their attack ads. Dr. Brown's campaign is proudly smearing.

For a party to run that puppet show ad on TV, with "paid for by the Progressive Labour Party" proudly appended to it is shocking, it runs a serious risk of alienating voters. It's speaks only to hard core fanatics. There was no point to the ad, other than to feed into stereotypes and racism.

That shouldn't be surprising during this campaign. What was surprising was how easy it was to create a rebuttal, which someone has posted on YouTube today, actually, the rebuttal is a better ad, shorter and ties in accountability as an issue.

I really wish that these nasty YouTube/Photoshop ads etc. would stop, but when an party is actually creating them themselves, it's hard to blame freelance individuals from responding in kind.

But back to the Puppet slur: The UBP's Bob Richards and John Barritt pointed out the hypocrisy and divisiveness of the PLP's attack on a black UBP member, when one of their own candidates had the exact scenario occur:

UBP candidate E.T. (Bob) Richards, who is running in Devonshire East, said the ad was an example of "gutter politics.

"It is offensive," he said. "It uses racial stereotyping as a political weapon."

And MP John Barritt said: "It is time to call them out for ads like this. On the PLP website there is a video of Wayne Caines, another new candidate, and you can see him struggle for the words to use, he struggles not once but twice and he is helped by a colleague on his right. No one called him a puppet.

"My black colleagues have to endure this type of criticism and it is offensive — that they are something less because they are black and support the UBP."

The situations are exactly the same, a first time candidate struggled in front of the mic (nerves) and was assisted by a colleague with a one-word prompt. Dr. Brown's campaign spins it into a slur for the UBP, but it's laughed off when his Chief of Staff does it.

The Puppet Show Rebuttal

The PLP's Attack Ad

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Tom Vesey absolutely nails it with his column in the Bermuda Sun today.


No matter which way you plan to vote this year, I urge you not to believe or even tolerate the destructive lie that is at the heart to this year's PLP election campaign.

That's the notion that a desperate white right-wing conspiracy (headed by Opposition Leader Michael Dunkley, of course) is out to take over Bermuda, destroy black hope and opportunity and culture, and grab every Government contract it can get its hands on.

The only thing that can save Bermuda from this horrible fate is the superhero Dr. Ewart Brown.

You've read this kind of stuff before, mostly in comic books. But you can read the same fantasy on the PLP web site, hear it at their rallies and see it on their TV and YouTube commercials.

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With today's latest chapter (and here) in the scandal that keeps on giving, I thought it appropriate to post UBP MP John Barritt's speech to Rotarians on the vital reforms for more openness and accountability in Government (the UBP's YouTube channel has a bunch of new videos on it if you're interested).

If there is one thing that I would like to work on with the UBP after this election, it would be this. If they don't win I just don't see it happening.

It is the most important single issue. You can't have a Government that works for the people unless we make it truly accountable to them, everything else flows from this:

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The inappropriate deal signing continues during the election period, with an announcement that the Caretaker Government has signed a $75M contract to build the new police station and courthouse, and a promise that a deal is about to be reached with St. Regis.

That's in addition to:

- a tax treaty being signed several days ago
- an offer to purchase the Bermuda Cement Company assets
- a ten year cruise ship contract

No respect for sensible precedents, process, Parliament or the people.

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"It is not propaganda’s task to be intelligent, its task is to lead to success."

Joseph Geobbels, 1927



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The Hyperbole of the Day award goes to PLP candidate Marc Bean, for this ridiculous statement:


Southampton West Central candidate Mr. Bean said the Opposition United Bermuda Party had a "neo-fascist agenda".

"If they have the opportunity they will lock all of us up. It's true," he said.

Hyperbole anyone?

May I suggest he look up fascism.


Fascists seek to forge a type of national unity, usually based on (but not limited to) ethnic, cultural, racial, and religious attributes.

It certainly isn't about implementing a platform of Good Governance, as the UBP have proposed, which involves fixed term elections, a Freedom of Information act, Whistleblower legislation, a non-political Attorney General, referendums if 20% of the electorate petition etc..

Engage brain before opening mouth.

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The Royal Gazette
Opinion (6 Dec. 2007)

Two weeks to go in the election campaign and for the first time I’m close to speechless. That’s not because a lot hasn’t been going on – it has – but so much of it has been so hysterically shrill and mean-spirited.

Five weeks into the seven week campaign and only one party has been consistently speaking to the issues. You may agree or disagree with some of the UBP’s proposals, but you can’t accuse them of not focusing on the issues.

On the other side it’s, well, it’s just full on attack the UBP mode. That’s the totality of the PLP’s campaign.

They’re operating in a parallel universe, as if we’re watching a production where the audience is expected to suspend their disbelief, cast aside everything they’ve come to learn over the PLP’s decade in office and vote them back in because the UBP are “out to get you”.

That’s it. There’s been nothing else. I suppose there can’t be; the election was called as an act of individual political self-defense; four and a half years later Bermuda is being asked to do the deception dance all over again, and we know how well that works out.

I know, I know; the “Solid as a Rock” theme song and slogan has been repeated ad nauseum – the message of which is “ignore your gut, stay loyal”. If things were “solid” we wouldn’t have to be reminded so often would we? Alex Scott didn’t have to point it out, but it certainly brought things into focus.

We can thank the former Premier for acknowledging that so many people are turned off by his party’s dominant leader; but the appeal for Bermudians to vote PLP and trigger another post-election leadership battle is a stunningly familiar admission to say the least.

Someone needs to remind Dr. Brown and his colleagues that elections are about the people, not the politicians. Bermuda doesn’t vote every five years to serve the political elite’s interest, but to select who can serve ours. They’ve got it backwards.

Dr. Brown’s substance-less campaign confirms he’s only interested in holding on to power now.

But why should the people of Bermuda endorse the leadership of a party that many of its own senior MPs and members don’t – whether they’ll publicly admit it or not? Why should the electorate endorse the leadership of a party which, for example, ignored vocal protest at Southlands only to have a death bed conversion on the eve of an election (and probably a post-election about face)?

The closer December 18th comes, the louder the noise becomes – as the volume on the Solid as the Rock amplifier is cranked to the max – the more obvious it becomes that the intent is to drown out the constant hum of internal and external dissent.

Don’t believe what Alex Scott, Renee Webb and other unnamed MPs and voters are saying; it’s all good, we’re Solid as a Rock. That’s why Dr. Brown has all but disappeared since his 60 minute rant against the world to launch this election campaign.

Has he ever been this low-profile? Ever?

Are we really supposed to be misled into believing that the man who has dominated every aspect of Bermuda politics for a year but has gone into hiding during the campaign won’t re-emerge emboldened if his party were to sneak out an election win? Are we going to be misled into thinking that it’s really about team, not a cult of personality?

The PLP’s campaign is clearly built on two themes: stay loyal, and “Us versus Them” (cue foreboding music).

Every statement, every ad, every ridiculously hyperbolic statement on their website is written with a sneering “they’re out to get you” tone. They’ve even resorted to running shameful radio ads that say exactly that. Are they really that devoid of content and afraid to stand on their record?
Do reasonable people really think that the UBP are out to get them? Are Albertha Waite, Charlie Swan, Donte Hunt, Darius Tucker, Don Hassell, Austin Warner, Gina Spence-Farmer, Wayne Scott, Mark Pettingill, Doug DeCouto etc. out to get anyone? Really? It’s sad that in this day and age a party has to resort to these backwards looking tactics.

The hyperbole has reached such a crescendo that the news is almost unreadable and definitely unwatchable. The misinformation has become so thick, the smearing and sneering so constant, that they’re now resorting to actually attacking the UBP for things the PLP are engaging in: smearing and deception.

The attempt to transfer their liabilities over to the UBP, and turn Michael Dunkley into some dangerously dominant strongman figure, when this is precisely the PLP’s plight, is impressive in its boldness.

Election 2007 has become a bizarre parallel universe. You don’t have to be a psychologist to diagnose the outright schizophrenia of the PLP’s campaign.

Dr. Brown’s PLP have said that they're for the people but against tax relief.

They were against a referendum on independence, before being in favour of one, but are back against it (but don’t ask the Press Secretary, what does he know?).

The Police Station which they’ve steadfastly refused to re-open in St. George's for years? Well, now they're all over it. They can’t move fast enough.

The UBP promised to build 500 homes. Well, 3 days later the PLP promised 550.

The PLP attacked the UBP for being right wing and wanting to cut 'essential Government services'. The next day they said that the UBP wanted to create a welfare state.

Someone pass the meds.

All of this confirms that they really don’t have any issues to run on, other than attacking and vilifying good, decent, hard-wording, community-oriented Bermudians who see the UBP as a vehicle to bring Bermudians together.

The PLP’s closing strategy of transferring their leader’s liabilities onto the UBP, and running on that divisive phrase of “Us versus Them” is desperate.

The meanness, the nastiness, the obsession to portray anyone who isn’t part of the PLP elite as ‘vile’, ‘vicious’ and a ‘force of darkness’, as the Premier described them in his opening speech, is absolutely not what Bermuda needs. Affirming it on December 18th will do just that.
The climate of distrust, fear and division that the PLP is trying to cultivate during this campaign needs to be firmly rejected at the polls.

Election Day may be a day of political survival for some, but it’s really an opportunity for the voters to decide on who can serve Bermuda in a positive way. Don’t be misled.

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There's been lots of talk today about the poll which ran in the Gazette, a poll conducted by a firm not previously used, and which produced results which are clearly an outlier from every other poll over the past few years, far outside of the PLP's suspect planted poll and the UBP's more recent one.

On a related note, as we approach complete and utter poll exhaustion, the UBP tonight sent out the results of a poll conducted last night. This poll again shows them to have a small lead, essentially a dead heat (and that's before we get into how inappropriate a national poll is when this will come down to a tiny number of votes in a handful of areas. I think there's the real chance of a party taking the popular vote but not getting the majority of seats.)

And the Bermuda Sun is also conducting a poll (through Corporate Research Associates) that will be run in Friday's paper from what I understand.

TOO MANY POLLS. TOO MUCH FOCUS ON THE HORSERACE BY THE MEDIA AND NOT ENOUGH ON THE ISSUES AND DEBUNKING LIES AND SPIN.

I've said it a few times but I truly believe that Bermuda is polled out, and I also think that the attention that the Push Poll (which the PLP are still pounding away at by the way - party's don't 'test messages' 2 weeks before an election) has drawn has made people highly suspicious of polls.

The main difference between this poll and the others, from what I can tell, is that the call centre was local. My contacts in polling say that in small communities which have been heavily polled there is a strong suspicion of being identified by a local caller so the results get skewed. And in Bermuda, if in doubt, say you're PLP, that comes with far less grief.

So the results today from Profiles of Bermuda make little sense particularly when you bear in mind that the PLP's poll gave them a small lead, and the UBP's a dead heat.

Ultimately, it's just all too close to predict in the key areas. Both parties know that, whether they'll say so publicly or not. How you get out your vote is a huge element to this campaign. And don't forget, this is only the second time these constituencies have been used.

But everyone in Bermuda today knows that this election is competitive, and the PLP wouldn't be engaging in such an extraordinarily negative campaign if they were way ahead. Their tactics are that of a party which knows it's got problems.

They've got a few things working against them, including a normal erosion of support for incumbent parties, a scandal plagued leadership, and internal disunity.

That's why today's poll showing a big lead isn't credible. Does anyone believe that the UBP's white support had reduced to 76%? Ewart Brown's racial tirades have been driving white voters to the UBP not away. He hasn't quite been engaging in outreach.

And the 9% who refused to answer etc. are likely UBP leaning 'won't says'.

But the PLP's tactics appear to be geared around the constant problem of having to try and shore up the base of their party, who as Alex Scott and others have laid out, are disillusioned with the party's leadership. Every time someone in the party restates that fact, they have to repair that damage.

The outcome however is that when a party campaigns in such a nasty and shrill manner to solidify the hardcore element, and they avoid the issues entirely and engage in vicious demagogary, they will likely turn off swing voters. It will also likely drive down turnout as voters become disillusioned with politics.

The PLP's strategy reminds me of Karl Rove's strategy for re-electing Bush, which was bring out the base and hope it carries you through. In that case it did - barely.

I must admit that I always thought that I had a high tolerance for political BS, but the PLP's tactics of constant smearing, holier than thou website tone and blatant misrepresentations in this campaign have left me very disillusioned and disgusted with this campaign.

I truly am disgusted. There are no boundaries for some, and as John Barritt pointed out in today's press conference about the violations of the Broadcasting Rules, there are one set of rules for the PLP, and others for everyone else. Their Chairman can attack the UBP for some individual's offensive cartoons, but refuse comment when it's in the other direction.

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The UBP have posted today's press conference, where they responded to the disgusting ad placed in the papers today, and the scare-mongering about their plans to tackle crime.

While their outrage is clearly sincere, it doesn't hold a candle to the PLP's faux version:

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Vexed Bermoothes has a great pickup from the Ramsbotham debriefing after the riots in 1977.

The quote he pulls shows how little some attitudes have changed over the past 3 decades:

...the attitudes which it is most important to change are those of the PLP’s present leaders. They consider that, as their party draws its support from the majority community here, they have a moral right to power; and that they must have been unfairly deprived of it by a trick. They are unwilling to believe that the electorate might have rejected them for their own deficiencies or excesses.

...So they denounce the present electoral arrangements in exaggerated and misleading terms. They also, much more dangerously, tend to regard any black who joins the governing United Bermuda Party (UBP) as a traitor to his race, and, conversely, the handful of PLP whites as honorary blacks.

The extent to which they do this was readily apparent during the disturbances. These were really based on politics rather than on race...

Helps to put in context the talk of 'stealing the election' during the gag order hearing and Dr. Brown's 'the UBP have no moral authority' line from his banquet rant.

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If you want to know what a real defamation suit looks like, watch this unfold.

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The snearing continues over at the PLP website, with the resumption of the demeaning of the UBP's black candidates.

A reader summarizes the complaint:

First the UBP were too white, now they're too black.

If Michael Dunkley walked across Hamilton Harbour, the PLP headline would read "Dunkley can't swim".

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Still off the meds.

The PLP today attack the UBP for being too hard on crime, and then say they want to bring in Guiliani's firm.

Do they have a clue? Let's just say that Rudy wasn't known for his focus on rehabilitation.

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As we enter the final two weeks of the campaign, it is clear that the PLP has shifted into Demonize Dunkley mode, otherwise known as the downward desperation spiral.

In the past week, the PLP have generated an impressive amount of hyper-focused Michael Dunkley material, either radio ads, dopey blog posts or press statements.

The radio ad is pretty shameful, with the opening line of "Michael Dunkley is out to get you".

Boo!

And, at the same time, there's been a sudden increase in the use of the word 'deception', with Wayne Caines using it in a weekend statement and a new piece today entitled "Dunkley's Deceptions", recycling the easily debunked lies allegation.

I'd ignore this stuff if The Royal Gazette (you know, the biased one?) wasn't filling their paper with the nonsense that fits exactly into the critique of the press that I posted last night.

This is pretty obviously an attempt to transfer the attention off of the very low profile Dr. Brown (who since the election was called only likes scripted press conferences and gentle questions of a partisan town hall meeting) and try and share the wealth of his 'deception' liability.

I think it's too late for that. "We misled you because we had to" is Dr. Brown's albatross.

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We keep hearing about how this will be the internet election (I don't think so - retail politics should reign supreme again in small constituencied Bermuda) but Vexed Bermoothes has picked up on some more rather dirty tactics from the PLP, with a novel take on Google Bombing.

They appear to have paid for negative sponsored links (mostly articles written by the PLP) to appear when you Google UBP related keywords and nice rosy pro-PLP propaganda to appear next to keyword searches related to them.

That level of online minutiae is impressive, but probably a waste of time and money.

Evidently the 20-something internet geeks running the PLP's campaign are tech-wise but not street-wise and have forgotten what grass-roots politics is, something that counts in Bermuda's tiny constituencies.

I doubt this obscure tactic will generate one swing in a vote. It's the kind of move that is going to reach voters like, well, me. It ain't going to reach the undecided that's for sure. They're not sitting at home googling away to find out about the PLP or UBP.

But it does display an unhealthy obsession with negative campaigning to compliment their push polls.

I'll make it a habit to regularly click on those sponsored links and take a few dollars out of their pockets and transfer them into the coffers of Google. Every little bit helps the share price.

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The PLP were busy again this weekend with their push poll.

Apparently they "abhor the practice", but they won't stop it.

Oh, I'm sorry. They're 'testing messages'. that's right. Two weeks before the election they're still 'testing messages'. Right.

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There are many lessons for Bermuda in what is going on in the US media, where the Republicans have long ago mastered the technique of using the mainstream media to spread misinformation and outright lies.

Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com has been holding Time (and other press outlets') feet to the fire over some poor reporting. The back and forth has made for some compelling reading, but also illustrates how Dr. Brown's PLP have adopted the tactics of the Republican party to great success in Bermuda; they demonise the media as biased while relying on them to spread lies:

"This is without question one of the most significant problems in how our establishment media functions. They refuse to subject claims -- particularly claims from the GOP power structure and the right-wing noise machine which they fear -- to any critical scrutiny.

For various reasons, they simply will not investigate such claims and, when warranted, identify such claims as false. The most they are willing to do is simply write down each side's claims and treat them equally, even when one side is blatantly lying. GOP operatives know that this is how the press functions and thus know that they can easily get away with spewing lies, and can even recruit the media into helpfully spreading them (using the predominant "he-said/she-said" template). That's the same process that led us into Iraq, kept us there for so long, protected endless presidential lawbreaking and enabled all sorts of fact-free smears...

...It isn't actually that complicated. When a government official or candidate makes a factually false statement, the role of the reporter is not merely to pass it on, nor is it simply to note that "some" dispute the false statement. The role of the reporter is to state the actual facts, which means stating clearly when someone lies or otherwise makes a false statement.

It's staggering that this most elementary principle of journalism is not merely violated by so many of our establishment journalists, but is explicitly rejected by them. That's the principal reason why our political discourse is so infected with outright falsehoods. The media has largely abdicated their primary responsibility of stating basic facts."

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I was catching up on the weekend news and just watched some of the press conference held by the Caretaker Government over the cement crisis.

They're obviously worried about how they're looking in this, judging by the effort put into the 12 page timeline they issued, parts of which are already being disputed by BCC.

I hold no brief for BCC, I just find it extremely distasteful and dangerous for Bermuda to have a Government - particularly a caretaker one - which has created a climate where investors wonder if there's good faith in their dealings with them. If you were looking to open a business in Bermuda, I think it's safe to say that you'd make sure you didn't have to rent from Government as part of that after this debacle. In fact, I think you'd make sure they had as little leverage over you as possible.

But what got my attention during the press conference was the heavy use of the term 'tenant' to describe the BCC.

While in this scenario WEDCO is the 'landlord' and BCC the 'tenant', the obvious intention behind repeatedly using the word 'tenant' was to imply that Government rents out to BCC a cement facility.

Now again, that's technically true, but it's not that simple.

BCC didn't get awarded a lease to run Government's cement plant, they leased an empty plot of land 4 decades ago and built it into the facility it is today.

While the current management may have inherited an ugly lease which deems the silos part of the land, good faith would dictate that unless a company has been engaging in predatory business practices that they aren't treated in such a way to drive them out of business when they've entirely financed the facilities being leased.

The idea that BCC holds a monopoly on cement in Bermuda is sheer nonsense. Anyone can import cement and anyone can build a new plant. Obviously they have an advantage in that their costs are paid off, but the fact that a business with apparently about $900,000 in annual revenue would have to take out a $15M loan over a max of their 20 year non-renewable lease to pay for a new facility is evidence that it wouldn't be a sensible business decision.

It's apparent from the shifting rationale about whether a new facility must be built 300 yards down the wharf (it's required in the BCC's lease but apparently not a new tenant) that the intent has been to try and close down the company so Government can hand the plant BCC built to new unidentified investors.

That's a very dangerous path for Bermuda to be going.

BCC runs by all accounts a profitable business, but not one that is gouging if you compare the cost of cement in Bermuda to the cost elsewhere. It's got both local and major overseas investors who will be seeing their investment devalued through Government intervention.

I'm not surprised then that BCC has indicated that they will not accept a hostile takeover attempt.

And, most importantly I think, this should have all been suspended anyway until after the election when a new Government could be in place and who could take a very different view on the forced liquidation of a private business.

The most prudent course would have been to issue an extension through the New Year, say 6 months, so that the election can run its course, the next Government and relevant Minister can be seated, and then this could get dealt with by a Government with some legitimacy, not one in Caretaker mode.

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