August 2008 Archives

In no particular order (well not quite true, the first few really made me laugh), here are some of the suggestions so far:

1) The Daily Brown Stuff and/or The Daily Brown Sheet
2) The Daily Planetation
3) The Loyal Gazette
4) The Doctored Dispatch
5) The Bermuda Discorder
6) "It's Walton Brown. How can it not be 'The Independent'?"
7) The Bermuda Independents
8) Pravda
9) PLP Times (Premier's Loyal Press)
10) The Brown Independent
11) The Bermuda Expensive Free Press
12) The Independence Times
13) The Crony Chronicle
14) The New Opium
15) Newspeak

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Two early entries in the Name that Paper Contest that made me chuckle:

1) The Daily Brown Stuff
2) The Loyal Gazette

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The Onion (satirical newspaper), publishes a very funny piece yesterday entitled "America Needs To Have A Superficial Conversation About Race".

The content is obviously North American, but it's uncannily on point for our own government sponsored Big Con(versation):

The people of America need to put aside their differences and come together on common ground. Especially at this crucial moment in our history. How better, I ask, to achieve this goal than to engage in an inconclusive, protracted, ignorant, and superficial examination of the issue of race?

The time for vagueness is now.

Over the past 20 years, our country has become intensely polarized. The gap between rich and poor has grown ever more vast. Voters on both sides are desperate for alternatives. If we ever hope to move into a new era of enlightened multicultural exchange, we must foster, on a national scale, a second-grade-level look into the most painful and difficult issue in America's cultural history.

Black, white, yellow, green, or brown— we can all be callously summed up in a trite statement of unity.

Like it or not, the U.S. needs a stupid conversation on the issue of race relations. Perhaps more importantly, we need this stupid dialogue to be couched in the most self-righteous, know-it-all attitudes on the part of those involved, as if they have no idea whatsoever of how much more complicated the issue is, and how little their one-dimensional approach to it brings to the table.

[Thanks to the reader who sent it on for a laugh.]

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I'm taking entries for names for Dr. Brown's new paper staffed by his family and political patrons; yet another not so subtle attempt to pass propaganda off as objective reporting.

The PLP Times has a nice ring to it.

Send em in and I'll publish the best.

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An aspiring environmental prosecutor writes:

A gigantic sand sculpture will grace Front Street as a part of Wednesday's Harbour Nights. Let's hope it's made out of debris from Club Med. Because if it is made out of beach sand, it will be a clear violation of the law which forbids the removal of any sand from the beaches.

The reader is correct I think. I believe the Act that covers it is the Sports, Camping and Recreational Areas Act 1977:


Offences

6 Any person who within a declared area—
(a) wilfully takes, removes or destroys any plant, tree or shrub, or makes any excavation or removes any sand, stone or soil; or

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Here's the email I mentioned earlier that looks at what the sudden political escalation in anti-crime measures might mean on a macro level.

I'm going to follow up with some thoughts of my own, as sometimes running this blog I get caught in the day to day movements rather than stepping back and pondering the bigger picture.

Look at the language in the Premier's speech on crime the other day.

"Last night I convened a special session of the Cabinet and there was only one-item on the agenda – ending the anti-social behavior among young people that is threatening our country’s very way of life."

Yes, violent crime has increased, and yes, it's a problem that needs to be addressed, but I wouldn't say that it's something that is "threatening our country's very way of life" (and I say that as someone in the law-enforcement field, who has first-hand experience with these issues). For me, this kind of hyperbole is uncomfortably reminiscent of how George Bush talks about the "War on Terror" - hyping-up a legitimate but compartmentalized problem into an all-encompassing existential threat, all so the government can have an excuse to become more draconian and centralized.

That's why, although I unreservedly support the Premier's suggestions regarding improving our social programmes, I feel wary of the Premier's comments about the Police. We've known for ages that this government is looking for a way to take over all Bermuda's armed forces, namely the Regiment and the Police. Of course, this wouldn't be problematic in the case of a government with a track record of respecting the rule-of-law, but it is problematic when the government has shown itself willing to pressure the (supposedly independent) Police Service into protecting the government's political interests, as it did when the Auditor General was arrested.

My concern here is that this government - which has shown itself enamoured of Republican-style tactics both during and after the most recent election - will continue to follow the Republican playbook to its logical conclusion, and will use a threat against the community as an excuse to get tough not just on criminal threats but also on political threats. I wouldn't be surprised if, over the next while, we see the Police force get better armed, then, after some terrible shootout or some failure to reduce violent crime, we hear the government passionately insist that these problems are all the result of the Police not falling under the government's direct control. Then we'll be told that only our own government is capable of keeping us safe, and the independence talk will kick in under the guise of domestic security concerns. And then, with independence, we'll not only have a government that thinks only in terms of politics and not in terms of governance, but one that now has an entire Police Service and Regiment at its beck and call. And then it'll be more than Larry Dennis who'll have to watch their back if they dare to expose things that the government wants to hide.

Maybe it sounds paranoid, but that scenario is certainly not outside the realm of possibility. Anyway, a citizenry paranoid about its ruling class is a healthy citizenry - the foundations of western democracy dictate that its the people that keep the government in check, and not the other way around. Look what happened in the US - because of the "War on Terror", the American citizenry forgot to fear its government's intentions, and now corruption has become institutionalized. That's a big worry, considering how much our Premier loves copying the tactics of American Republicans like George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove.

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This morning's VSB radio news had a real gem in it from Court Reporter and PLP MP Ashfield DeVent.

Mr. DeVent read (as only he can) a court report on a case where a man gave police a false identity after a traffic stop, only to then find that the individual whose identity he had assumed was the proud owner of a number of outstanding warrants.

The judge fined the man $400 or thereabouts for attempting to 'pervert the course of justice' (seems small) and then another $200 or so fine for the traffic offence.

So that's the setup.

Mr. DeVent ended his report with the following quote:


"The moral of the story: Before you give a false name to the police, know if the law is looking for them."

Yes, you read that right.

For Mr. DeVent the moral of the story wasn't to tell the truth to the Police, but to be make sure that when you lie about your identity you pick someone without outstanding warrants?

I'm not making it up. A classic.

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I have a couple of reader emails to post on the latest 'anti-crime' moves. The first, which follows below, focuses on specifics. The other, which I'll post later, puts the bigger picture together in a way that I think is quite shrewd and accurate:

The Premier's anti-crime measures announced today were as much intriguing for what it contained as what was left out. There was little "creativity," meagre traces of originality and a dose of "he said what?" Let's break down the measures he announced:

1. Increase Police presence.
#1 on every politican's anti-crime plan. We've heard this before.
2. Legal review.
Sounds interesting but didn't former Attorney General Larry Mussenden complete a review and implement new laws?
3. "Clergy against crime"
No disrespect to the clergy, but if you've attended church at all in the past 20 years you can guess what they'll say. Nice to have a mention, but nothing novel will be heard here.
4. Amnesty.
Been there, done that.
5. School intervention.
Nothing new here. Teachers, counsellors, Police, social workers, probation officers are on this beat daily.
6. S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons and Tactics).
He said what? More on this below.
7. Review of the Department of Child and Family Services.
When the crime tide is working against you, every politican's favourite past-time is to launch a review and somehow insinuate that maybe those civil servants just aren't getting it right.
8. Improve parenting skills.
On everyone's New Year's list.
9. Parental responsibility laws.
Interesting. Probably cross-Party support for this.
10. Mirrors programme.
No problem with that although I think the Mirrors message lacks clarity and reflects Government bureacracy.

But Premier, I have a few questions.

Where was the Commissioner today? Why wasn't he there as a sign of solidarity and support?

Why no mention of sweeping anti-crime legislation? Legislation that leaves criminals in no doubt that crime involving weapons, firearms, violence and drugs will result in substantial prison time.

Why was there no mention of the Black Male study? By no means am I suggesting that blacks have an exclusivity on crime but the links between disadvantaged black males and crime is clear. Every voter sees it, feels it and knows it.

You want creativity? Get a recognised criminologist involved in developing strategies and solutions.

Now for the "He said what?" category. The reference to a new Bermuda Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) was puzzling. The Police already have the highly trained Emergency Response Team. The problem might be that these same very well equipped and firearms trained Police Officers who should be on the front line in any anti-crime tactics are the same ones providing armed escorts for the Premier. Seriously.


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And the verdict is...A Pyramid Scheme (or perhaps a multi-level marketing scheme).

Either way, because you need to recruit new members to make it work, it's nothing more than a slightly dressed up pyramid scheme. It should be shut down. I imagine that someone who's lost money will make a complaint soon enough and that will be the end of that.

As an accountant Wayne should be sophisticated enough to know what it is. As an MP he should be self-aware enough to stay the hell away from this crap.

It's a scam. I'm appalled that a Member of Parliament brought it to Bermuda.

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Have a read of the following press release excerpted below:


WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Legendary boxing
promoter-turned-entertainment promoter Rock Newman and his full service marketing, promotions and event production firm, Gibraltar Promotions, LLC, today announced that a limited number of additional tickets have been made available to American music enthusiasts for the 13th Annual Bermuda Music Festival, taking place October 1-4, 2008.

Famous in the sporting world for his management of several champions,
including guiding Riddick Bowe to the undisputed Heavyweight Championship of the World, Rock Newman is now applying his managerial prowess in the entertainment world as Executive Director of the Bermuda Music Festival.

Tasked with elevating the Festival to the next level to attract international acclaim as well as international visitors clamoring to experience world-class performers, Rock Newman tapped on his friends in the entertainment industry, and was the driving force behind securing Beyonce and Alicia Keys as this year's Headliner Performers.

"Taking on the role as Executive Producer for the Bermuda Music Festival has been the ultimate labor of love, as there won't be a bigger fan in the house than me," stated Rock Newman, Executive Producer, 2008 Bermuda Music Festival and Founder of Gibraltar Promotions, LLC. "I'm thrilled to have been successful in securing a line-up of first class talent that will allow me and many thousands to enjoy some of the best music and performers in the world!

With only a 2 hour flight from most major East Coast cities and access to these additional tickets, I hope that many more of my fellow Americans will join me in Bermuda from October 1st - 4th."

To summarise: "Me, me, me, me, me." It takes 2/3rds of the release before the Festival is really even discussed properly, and the press statement gives the promoter not the event top billing.

This release is about advertising for new concerts to promote, not promote the event he's being paid to promote.

Here's a multiple choice question.

The Bermuda Music Festival is held to:

a) Get Dr. Brown a photo with Beyonce
b) Promote Rock Newman
c) Help Rock Newman start a new company
d) All of the above

Rock Newman is cut from the same cloth as Ewart Brown: they're self-promoters.

The press releases coming from Rock Newman are notionally about the Music Festival but are first and foremost about promoting his own celebrity and business interests.

Secondly, it's hard to not conclude the Bermuda Music Festival was given to him due to his relationship with Dr. Brown, as the press release confirms that he has no concert promotion experience. In fact, it would appear that the Bermuda Music Festival is the launching pad for a new entertainment promotion firm after boxing has fizzled out.

Funnily enough, that's exactly how Dr. Brown has uses the tourism portfolio. Events are held under the guise of tourism but are primarily about promoting himself both locally and internationally; his own networking; and doling out some taxpayer dollars through the Friends and Family Plan.

Oh, and can someone answer for me how many times you can release 'additional tickets' when the majority of the original allotment is still unsold?

I'd say things aren't looking very good for this as a tourism event. But that's not a surprise because the economic case for an event of this scale has not been made.

So far it's all about entertaining and pandering to us locals, which is why it is wrapped up in such a colossal amount of marketing and political BS.

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A reader writes on today's crime press conference, and points out that if we're increasing Police on the streets why wasn't there one present at today's announcement:

Did you notice the lack of police presence at that photo op? Wonder who forgot to invite the Police?

I'm also reliably informed that armed police have been on duty every night since December 2007 - ERT trained - aka 'SWAT'.

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Breaking news, we're getting more American imports, this time a SWAT team to tackle violent crime. And in related news, the Premier says "We've had enough".

Where've you been? The Vineyard? Welcome back.

Here's my 3 point plan:

1) Pay the police what they were awarded.
2) Turn on the CCTV cameras.
3) Forget SWAT. (Don't we already have an Emergency Response Team anyway?).

As usual they're late to the party and respond with - if I may borrow a phrase from some of Senator Burch's pre-election attack the UBP's tough on crime plan language - "DRACONIAN" headline grabbing reactionary plan.

Start with the basics. Recruit good Police Officers. Pay them well. Offer them a rewarding career. Develop them well. Use the existing resources which are being developed rather than reinvent the wheel.

Sort out the judiciary. Toughen up sentencing.

Oh, and stop playing to people's fears during elections saying that the UBP are draconian, 'out to get you' and 'are neo-fascists who want to lock everyone up'. What does Senator "They're neo-fascists" Bean think?

We don't need armed street wars between police and gangs. This isn't South Central. We don't need another import from Los Angeles.

I'm all for getting tough with crime, but this feels like a typical horse has left the stable knee jerk response.

A reader had an immediate and interesting take on the development:

SWAT tactics? Is Ewart for real?

I'm flabbergasted. Floored.

Ewart Brown, respected member of the Black Power Movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s - which its members say still exists but "inside the beltway" - is advocating SWAT tactics?

SWAT was first formed by the Los Angeles Police Department in the late 1960s in response to the 1965 Watts riots and the formation in late 66 and early 67 of the Black Panther Party in Oakland.

We now know that the LAPD instigated riots in the 1940s, numerous brutality incidents in the 1950s and the Watts and Rodney King riots.

The man who first approved Special Weapons And Tactics units was none other than Daryl (Blacks' blood vessels don't open up as quickly as normal people so that's why they die in choke holds) Gates.

Ewart Brown lived in LA for a good 20 years. He knows all about LAPD. Will someone remind the public about the PLP attack advert last December in which the UBP was attacked for being "draconian"?

And what happened to SRT? What happened on Monday? Was SRT and other armed officer's performance not up to standard? How do we know? Was it that bad that within three days the Government wants something new? Is it really new thinking?

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I guess that the State-supported newspaper promised in the run-up to the election is still a go, with a job ad on p. 48 (scan here) of the Royal Gazette today with VistaMar Ltd. for a General Manager.

Maybe I should apply?

Meanwhile, PLP Senator Walton Brown's press release-churning-with-little-to-no-original-reporting (and definitely no accurate reporting) Bermuda Network News is announcing that they'll be re-launching on Sept. 1st, after a failed first effort that resulted in the sole employee suing the Senator for unpaid wages.

What was it Vexed was saying recently? Oh yeah:

But here’s my word of advice: the PLP is well funded and its core group of puppeteers are driven. Don’t think that by peeling off the UBP into a happy and well-intentioned group of independents that you’ll win favour with the electorate. It’s not likely to happen.

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I doubt I'll be posting until after August 21st.

Summertime.

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Recently, in the Wall Street Journal, guest columnist Shelby Steele wrote a very incisive commentary entitled "Why Jesse Jackson Hates Obama".

Steele articulates in the American context exactly what I've always considered the problem with the PLP's approach to race but have never been able to express well (emphasis mine):

Mr. Jackson was always a challenger. He confronted American institutions (especially wealthy corporations) with the shame of America's racist past and demanded redress. He could have taken up the mantle of the early Martin Luther King (he famously smeared himself with the great man's blood after King was shot), and argued for equality out of a faith in the imagination and drive of his own people. Instead -- and tragically -- he and the entire civil rights establishment pursued equality through the manipulation of white guilt.

Their faith was in the easy moral leverage over white America that the civil rights victories of the 1960s had suddenly bestowed on them. So Mr. Jackson and his generation of black leaders made keeping whites "on the hook" the most sacred article of the post-'60s black identity.

They ushered in an extortionist era of civil rights, in which they said to American institutions: Your shame must now become our advantage. To argue differently -- that black development, for example, might be a more enduring road to black equality -- took whites "off the hook" and was therefore an unpardonable heresy. For this generation, an Uncle Tom was not a black who betrayed his race; it was a black who betrayed the group's bounty of moral leverage over whites. And now comes Mr. Obama, who became the first viable black presidential candidate precisely by giving up his moral leverage over whites.

Mr. Obama's great political ingenuity was very simple: to trade moral leverage for gratitude. Give up moral leverage over whites, refuse to shame them with America's racist past, and the gratitude they show you will constitute a new form of black power. They will love you for the faith you show in them.

Read the whole thing, it's well worth it, but that section is very relevant to Bermuda.

The Big Con(versation) in Bermuda is an official exercise in the manipulation and amplification of white guilt. Ewart Brown said as much in the contentious post-election interview with BBC Caribbean:

EB: This discomfort is part of the healing.

NN: But but it could also make the problem worse…

EB: I don’t think so. We take the risk of healing the country. It’s a risk you have to take.

NN: But you see, you see Premier, the first thing you are doing is reaching out to your black electorate. You haven’t said anything as of yet about reaching out to the white part of your population and that …

EB: That’s because you didn’t raise it.

The PLP forged both their ideology and identity during the tumultuous times of the 1960s and 1970s. Ewart Brown in particular spent his formative years in the US Civil Rights movement not Bermuda's. It should not come as a surprise then that his politics are precisely those of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

Steele's comments on Uncle Toms are incredibly relevant to Bermuda as well; they explain why the PLP attack non-PLP blacks as sell-outs, house n*ggers and white apologists:


For this generation, an Uncle Tom was not a black who betrayed his race; it was a black who betrayed the group's bounty of moral leverage over whites.

Black UBP candidates know precisely what this is all about; being black and not in the PLP is the ultimate sin.

Blacks who join the UBP have made a decision to pursue a partnership which cannot exist with a continued focus on exploiting white guilt and demand that blacks fall in lockstep with the sole legitimate black political ideology of the PLP.

Stan Ratteray (who I had the honour of spending time with for a few years before he passed away) for example fought as a key member of the Progressive Group with the Theatre Boycott to end segregation and then became a UBP MP.

You can't argue that he didn't support civil rights, but he did eschew manipulating white guilt as a political strategy.

Politicians across both parties in Bermuda admire and dare I say envy Obama. One of Obama's challenges is that many people are trying to latch onto his popularity, but - at the risk of appearing to be one of those - substantively and temperamently, the politics of the PLP are the antithesis of Obama's.

As Steele so well demonstrates, Obama expressly rejects the identity politics that the PLP thrive on and that the US Republicans and Jesse Jackson style black-Democrats have used to great success.

Obama has translated this into incredible cross over appeal, creating a not insignificant conservative support base, even though he's a Democrat.

Without a doubt he is also a very savvy political operator, he is not the Messiah by any means, as demonstrated in Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker's excellent essay over almost a month ago (the essay of which seemed to get lost in controversy over the cover cartoon).

The irony of course is that while Obama has been embraced by the PLP (and envied by the UBP), his political circumstances and philosophy is much more UBP than PLP.

His language is conciliatory; he is an incrementalist not a revolutionary; he is a coalition builder; he seeks to bring people together and bridge differences.

I think these traits are part of who he is as an individual (coupled with extraordinary charisma, intelligence and rhetorical skills), but you can't ignore the fact that he has to be these things because he is in the demographic minority in the US.

As are the UBP in Bermuda.

Obama's campaign knows that it has to address race, but avoids it as a central issue as much as it can.

If he is pigeon-holed as "The Black Candidate" he loses. During the Primaries the Clinton campaign tried unsuccessfully (and delicately) to make this stick, but the intent was clear.

What's the parallel in Bermuda? It's obvious. The PLP's primary objective is to make sure that the UBP are "The White Party".

While the UBP tries to generally avoid race, the PLP make sure it's injected into every press release - both implicitly and explicitly. The UBP try and build a coalition, but it's a delicate one that has suffered from them ceding their branding to the PLP for at least a decade. (Obama's branding on the other hand is masterful.)

I don't want to go too far off into Obama-land, but like Steele demonstrates in his column, what is causing such tension in Bermuda now is the full-court press on white guilt.

Because while the PLP often point out that whites vote overwhelmingly for the UBP as proof of racism, what doesn't get said is that the PLP's explicit appeals to black racial solidarity and identity, coupled with language which is exclusionary not inclusive, has the equal and opposite effect of driving white support away.

The PLP's appeal to whites to join the party is based on white guilt: "You're a racist if you don't join us." Not the most welcoming invitation is it.

This is an easy win win for their identity politics driven approach as they're in the demographic majority. Sadly demographics are a crude fact of life in politics.

For the PLP they're also a political luxury, one that Obama doesn't have in the US, but also something that he may not need.

The UBP had better be taking notes.

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A reader writes on the sorry state of Bermuda politics:

I liked this passage: "I think that Wayne could sit as a very credible, reasonably influential Independent. As a PLP MP he would be too beholden to them , having to prove his loyalty and never being truly trusted (although Dr. Brown likes to have people around him who need to stay in his favour rather than people of principle)."

Right now we have far too few people of principle in both parties. Most of those deeply involved, I sense, are in it for personal gain: some financial; some status; and some for self-worth. Name for me the people who passionately work for an issue (environment, needy, etc.) or even have a platform of issues. Both parties play at the game with little community involvement and therefore little relevance to most of us folks, other than dolling out the goodies (qlq) or protecting the status quo (ubp). A sorry picture for me. One that breeds desperation, resentment and instability.

I also agree that Wayne should fish or cut bait as they say. I see no hope of the UBP evolving into anything different nor the qlq becoming competent or trustworthy. Like in Quebec, a third party will certainly spice things up.

There are a number of politicians who I believe are in politics for the right reasons.

Sadly, there are far too many that are not; too many conflicts of interests, too much selective outrage and too much 'but they did it' for starters.

Transactional politicians is a term that sums up my view of the current political landscape.

I am becoming both depressed and disgusted with the state of affairs in Bermuda right now; be it the outright lies, the shallowness of political debate, the rampant identity politics, the racialisation of everything, the poorly drafted and hastily crafted legislation, the dominance of short term politics over long term public policy.

I'm genuinely disgusted.

At the risk of sounding like a starry eyed dreamer, Bermuda needs transformational not transactional politics.

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I've been suffering from computer problems (or perhaps more precisely Vista problems) lately, which is causing incredibly frustrating random work losing blue screen of death reboots, so you're going to have to bear with me. This is attempt four at a post.

I've been resisting the temptation to correct for the record every untruth and point out each contrived PR move on the recently rebooted PLP website, like today's posting. It's hard, because the UBP (more on that later) aren't particularly lively lately, so I have to go to the tried and true shrill doctors over at PLP-land for my fix.

I'm not sure though if I'm hyper-sensitive to political PR tactics, but whoever is doing the PR over there is so far providing a poor imitation of Karl Rove politics, although I must say that I do like today's posting of photos over the weekend:


During Emancipation week, Premier Ewart Brown and the rest of the PLP leadership were out and about in the community meeting with Bermudians and talking about the issues that matter to people's lives. Here are a few scenes from Emancipation Week:

Or, translated: "See party delegates! We have photographic proof that the Premier and our MPs aren't elitist. We staged some photo-ops over Cup Match."

The calculation behind it all is so terribly obvious that it doesn't strike me as particularly effective, although it did seem to succeed during the election.

I don't quite know what to make of it all to be honest. Good PR has an element of sophistication to it, this just seems incredibly amateurish.

But on to what I really wanted to talk about, a PR trainwreck of the UBP sort. The story that isn't progressing; Wayne Furbert's long goodbye from the UBP.

I think this is installment 3.0 of "I'm gonna do it, I really am", to which I'll say what I said to Wayne months ago when I saw him on the street: "Do it. Stop threatening and do it."

I don't mean that in the good riddance sense at all. I mean it in the sense that he clearly is unhappy with what is going on - or perhaps is not going on - in the UBP and is looking for an exit strategy. It would be a shame to see Wayne and the UBP part ways.

Saying that, at the minimum, you can't publicly moot crossing the floor to the PLP as he does - a move I don't get the impression he really wants to do but would allow him to feel like he was back in the game - and expect your colleagues to not keep you at a distance and treat you with suspicion. You can't have someone in caucus who is flirting with the other side.

To be honest, I think that semi-threat alone is hard to walk back from and retain any credibility and standing in his party.

I have never understood unconditional support of a political party, so I completely understand that Wayne feels out of step with the direction of his party and thinks that he has to move on. I get that. I support that. People change, parties change (or perhaps don't depending on your perspective) and as such these things happen.

The headline today of "Furbert to give UBP 'last chance'" however rings hollow because he's threatened this several times now. I understand the difficultly in parting ways when he has been a long-serving MP, Cabinet Minister and Opposition Leader, but I think he knows what he wants to do but is looking for some event to give him that opportunity to make a clean break.

This 'don't make me do it' kind of threat, this public dance, seems terribly indecisive and is one of the things that made him a not particularly effective party leader.

I wouldn't rule out him crossing the floor, but it wouldn't seem particularly credible based on our many years of talking politics and his view on Bermuda and the methods and policies of the PLP.

These comments today highlight that:


Pressed on what policy change was needed Mr. Furbert said the UBP platform was pretty strong.

"If anyone wanted to vote about issues, we won.

But then again, Jamahl Simmons used to lambaste the PLP viciously both publicly and privately, including all 3 PLP Premiers and most MPs since 1998 to me, yet he managed to switch over without a second thought.

I think that Wayne could sit as a very credible, reasonably influential Independent. As a PLP MP he would be too beholden to them , having to prove his loyalty and never being truly trusted (although Dr. Brown likes to have people around him who need to stay in his favour rather than people of principle).

Wayne could then use this Independent status to try and launch a viable third party over the next few years. The odds are against him, but that looks to me like the only way he can retain his sense of self and credibility in the community.

On a related note, being the UBP's report that Wayne was so disappointed in, I haven't seen it, nor do I have much interest in seeing.

I think the debate in the UBP is actually quite simple at it's core.

The split seems to be between those who take a short term approach and those who are looking at this as a long term revitalisation. Both strike me as having their appeal.

The short term view says that Bermuda can't afford more years under the PLP and that the UBP would need to either disband or radically restructure to launch a realistic shot at taking the majority. Bermuda is suffering and it could be irreversible if it isn't stopped quickly.

The long term view (which is more the personality of the UBP - incrementalists) is that the UBP has to rebuild their support but that it will take time. I would say at least 2 elections (barring a massive PLP collapse) to claw back enough ground to be competitive due to a number of factors from a tarnished brand and powerful racial politics to seats that are a gerrymandered under the single-seat setup just as much as they were under the dual-seat setup.

I'm a little torn.

Personally, I wouldn't lose any sleep if the UBP were to go away and something new were to emerge. It would at least force a new dynamic to the tiring and crippling PLP (aka black) vs UBP (aka white) battle which is just so dull and predictable but mostly destroying the soul of this community.

However, I don't for a second think that the PLP attack machine won't just recalibrate and start to rebrand any new party as 'still the UBP'.

On the other hand, the kind of gains needed on the electoral map take time to occur, you don't get 20% moves between elections unless there is some major crisis and scandal. And I'm not sure we're at that point yet, as the PLP brand seems to be quite resilient, particularly in the face of Dr. Brown's right wing policies which aren't for one bit pro-labour (or pro-Bermudians for that matter).

If the UBP decide to stay the course and make incremental change, which I think is the most likely scenario, their best short-term hope is that Ewart Brown does to his party what Tony Blair did to Labour in the UK, Jean Cretien did to Canada's Liberals, and George Bush has done to the US Republicans.

Otherwise their time will come again, but it could be a few elections at least unless there is an unforseen game changing internal event (ie. a new highly credible, highly charismatic figure emerges).

Those three party leaders have destroyed their parties brands and left their successors with political fundamentals that are so bad that it is almost impossible to turn around in a short time. The sentiment is simply one of 'time for a change'.

The big difference there is that those countries lack the deep well of racial campaigning and identity politics to fall back on as the PLP did in the 2007 campaign (although the McCain campaign seems to be doing a dry run at the moment).

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The adoption by the PLP of the UBP's means tested daycare election proposal continues to be the subject of flat out lies by the PLP.

I don't get the compulsion to rewrite history - just admit it and move on - but that is quite literally what is happening now with an update to the party's 'official' history just published online:

As usual, the language itself of the history is completely overspun, but check out the second to last bullet point of 'chief promises':

The party launched it platform on December 9, 2007. A comprehensive and expertly crafted document titled, 'Patterns of Progress', it outlined the party’s vision, plans and promises to the people for its next term of government. Some of the party's chief promises in the platform were:

...

* Free day care for means-tested Bermudian families though neighborhood based childcare providers such as churches;

...

I know they say that history is written by the victors, but that's simply factually incorrect, and they know it.

As Phil Wells pointed out in a Letter to the Editor recently, and the PLP website was forced to concede (before attacking UBP MP John Barritt for (correctly) 'misrepresenting' their misrepresented but later corrected website statement), they didn't promise 'means tested free daycare' at all.

They promised universally free daycare for Bermudians and went to the lengths of pointing out that this was a key difference between themselves and the UBP.


Not so different after all

July 10, 2008

Dear Sir,

I was intrigued to read in today's newspaper (July 10) that the PLP's free child care will only be available to Bermudian parents with a gross income not exceeding a 'maximum prescribed amount'. While restricting free child care to needy families may be an entirely sensible thing to do, it is nevertheless not what the PLP promised before last year's General Election.

On 13 December 2007, the PLP published a statement on its website which said, "The PLP will provide free DayCare for all Bermudians. That's a big difference between us and the UBP. The UBP will only provide day care for so-called 'needy' families." It seems that the PLP is not so different from the UBP, after all.

PHILLIP WELLS

St. George's

As a reader asked recently, what is it with the lying. Is it just a compulsion. Have they forgotten what the truth is?

It's no wonder the Bermuda rumour mill is running on hyper drive. No-one believes a thing the Government says anymore. And they'd be justified.

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