Shall we dance?

Interesting little dance, or skirmish in the paper today between the UBP and BDA.

The UBP's Kim Swan:

"As far as the BDA is concerned, they set themselves up this past year as a separate party and I do not think they are of a mind to join with the UBP.

"Indeed their leader a few weeks ago said the UBP should 'turn out the lights'. That's hardly an overture to some form of coalition. So the ball is in their court.

"As far as we in the UBP are concerned, we recognise Bermuda's best interest does not lie in a divided Opposition. People who cannot support the performance of this Government and there are many are frustrated because they do not see a viable way to replace them in the current situation. It's not healthy.

"The fact is that Bermuda needs the strongest possible Opposition today because the Government is failing in the three most important areas of island life: the economy, education and public safety.

"It is unfortunate that the BDA chooses to focus its political guns on the UBP."

The BDA's Kathy Michelmore repsonded:

Dr Michelmore responded: "It is our belief that the UBP has been floundering as an Opposition party, and it is clear that this impression galvanised the BDA founders to step forward to offer an alternative.

"Sadly for the UBP, despite many capable and effective MPs, the UBP has become enmeshed in its negative historical legacy and as it currently exists cannot offer Bermuda a viable alternative.

"Kim Swan has criticised us for being of this opinion, but that is because it is a message the UBP leadership does not want to hear but many have said.

"Ultimately the BDA wishes to change the Government, and is prepared to work with those who recognise that real change is essential and are willing to recognise the obvious.

"We have not gunned for the UBP as Mr Swan is saying, but there must be severe disappointment in the UBP that 40-odd years gets you eight extra votes over a one-year-old entity.

"Nevertheless it is important that the Government is held to account and that the Country is given a strong Opposition. We will work towards that goal. Given the large numbers that did not vote, political parties have lots to do to enfranchise every voter."

I think they're talking across each other, and for the BDA simply splitting the UBP's vote wasn't an accomplishment...it was a given.

If the hangup is over the letters "UBP" that's easy to resolve, and I don't see that as a hurdle to an amalgamation. An amalgamation can be more than that though, taking the best of the BDA and the best of the UBP and walking the walk (and the constituencies) until the next election.

Otherwise, the BDA gets wiped out and hands the PLP an inflated majority at the next election.

I don't agree with much Jamahl Simmons says nowadays, but he's bang on with his assessment (other than the untrustworthy jab):

Former UBP MP Jamahl Simmons, now a PLP member, said yesterday: "After a year of existence and several weeks of targeting this constituency, the BDA has failed to distinguish itself as anything more than an alternative to the UBP for UBP supporters.

"The issues they choose to prioritise, the values they espouse, the language they use, their very approach, echoes the UBP. So to a swing voter or a traditional PLP supporter they are likely to be seen to be as untrustworthy, out of touch and unappealing as the UBP."

Mr Simmons said an alliance between the two could stave off a PLP landslide at the next General Election, adding: "As it stands the BDA have virtually no chance of retaining any of their seats and the UBP almost no chance at forming the Government.

"I suspect that as an election draws nearer, the traditional base of the UBP will begin to solidify behind the party that looks most likely to have the best shot of preventing a PLP landslide. The money, manpower and resources will begin to flow to one entity and it will probably be the UBP."

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