With a very important budget looming I've been thinking about what the individual parties can get out of it.
For the PLP, I don't expect much because they continue to deny reality and pretend that the economic woes and tourism are in a mess because of the global recession, rather than their squandering of opportunity and huge tax windfalls of the past decade. Politically they can't concede that just about everything the UBP forewarned has come to pass.
I hear that Paula Cox has been preparing people for a 'tough but fair' budget, but this is really a tale of what could have been.
On a personal level Paula Cox has been getting hammered, and rightly so, over the past few months in particular. if she aspires to the leadership of the country she'll be looking to regain some of the credibility that she has lost (although she remains somewhat of a Teflon politician).
In the UBP's case I think the challenge is summed up quite simply, but is harder to execute. The UBP need to not just be right, but be persuasive. All 3 of the UBP's Shadow Finance Ministers from Grant to Pat to Bob have been on the money year after year. But they're not persuading. Bob Richards has been devastatingly accurate in his predictions, but he's a tad academic.
Bob needs to tell a story, not teach. I've loved his replies, but they're overly academic. And he doesn't have to convince me or those like me. We get it.
The story to tell is what could have been, but also what can be.
The BDA need to accomplish a couple of things.
Firstly they need to articulate their economic vision and continue to build momentum on the heels of their well attended conference. In Parliament they don't have the kind of economic expertise the UBP do in Grant, Bob and Pat.
Which leads to my second point. I was surprised that the BDA did not prepare a more formal and distributable Throne Speech reply as the the official Opposition does. That was a missed opportunity to deliver a prepared speech and show some professionalism with a printed document, although Shawn Crockwell did deliver a good presentation.
If I were in the BDA I'd make sure they prepared their own Budget Reply document and deliver a formal reply. There's a lot of low hanging fruit in the way the PLP have mismanaged the economy and denied their role in putting Bermuda on the back foot, rather than responding from a position of economic strength.
It's critical that they step up now in Parliament and maximize every opportunity, particularly these big Parliamentary events. I thought they missed a great opportunity with the Throne Speech.