Recently in OBA Category

And in other news: PLP outraged that OBA is following through on election platform campaign promises.

Elections have consequences. The OBA won. The PLP haven't been particularly graceful losers in the first couple of weeks. Being in Opposition is no fun, particularly when you thought victory was 'assured, baked in' as one now PLP MP told me days before the election.

The PLP certainly have the numbers to be difficult, but on these core issues that the OBA ran on for the better part of 18 months they have a clear mandate for implementation.

And kicking and screaming at the mention of a review, or the appointment of a Chairperson, not even at the implementation stages, pretty much signals an early scorched earth "Party of No" approach.

On December 17th there was an election. The OBA won. Narrowly, but they won.

The outcome of that is that the new Government has the support of 52% of the *voting population, plus I'd argue pretty much all the independent votes (about 2% more), to govern on the issues they campaigned on.

[* This was updated to 'voting population' from 'population' to correct the intent.]

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It will be interesting to see whether the OBA's position on MP pay cuts is too complicated - although grounded in financial reality - to be fully understood by the public.

It's a bit nuanced and the PLP excel at demagoguing reality based positions such as this.

The PLP are obviously overjoyed that they think they can pin their own year long resistance on pay cuts on the Opposition who had no role whatsoever in wrecking the Government's financial stability.

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A quick follow up to the last post.

Firstly, I received a lot of feedback to this post, which is good because I know I haven't been posting much lately so I appreciate that people feel engaged.

Secondly, I did neglect to include a couple of additional comments I'd intended to make.

So, just to continue the thought a bit:

A few people got the impression that I supported the change from within approach. So do I? Well, yes and No.

Everyone has to make up their own minds as to how they feel they can best make an impact, so in that regard I'm not one to judge.

But...I don't think it will be successful in the PLP because I think the leadership is primarily concerned with electability over genuine evolution as an organisation.

I explain my take to people as the PLP govern by press release. It's really about winning the moment, the next 24 hours of news, not winning the future through policy driven results.

I say this because I can point to any number of civil servants who have said to me that the grand pronouncements and Throne Speech promises are completely disconnected from what they actually do.

They often tell me that things get announced but their jobs never change. The PLP see PR as their core function, not policy.

On a slightly related topic, I meant to note what I think is an important potential issue:

With the PLP trying to OBA themselves heading into an election I couldn't help but think back to when the UBP's internal problems exploded.

They exploded under Wayne Furbert, after the UBP had tried to PLP themselves a bit by parachuting some candidates into safe seats, individuals who hadn't really earned their stripes and had very loose ties to the party and philosophy.

A number of them ultimately left the party in a blaze of glory, and are now seeking relevance in the PLP. So far only one has found it, but his relevance is in lending Cabinet some UBP management mojo in Tourism.

I fully expect that the PLP parachuting Opposition affiliated very pro-business candidates will cause some internal problems similar to those the UBP had; longstanding individuals were passed over for more opportunistic players who are not particularly in tune with the party base's philosophy and aspirations.

Resentment builds.

This is the kind of thing that can tear a party apart internally. Saying that, the PLP has a deep reservoir of party loyalty that they can call on, an ability to rally the troops that is impressive and mind boggling.

The public is much more forgiving of their mistakes and misdeeds than they are on the Opposition.

Personally, I think Bermuda will get better management from the OBA. Primarily because they have better ideas and better managers, but also importantly because they know that they can't take the electorate for granted as the PLP continue to do.

That's a big deal. Politicians want to get re-elected. One party is much more sensitive to the electorate's mood than the other.

That will only change when the electorate demonstrates that they can no longer be taken for granted.

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The moves made by the PLP of the past few weeks makes it undeniably clear that the PLP are trying to make themselves look a lot more like the OBA - and to a lesser extent whatever is left of the UBP - heading into an election.

A series of moves are confirmation of an implicit acknowledgment that public sentiment has shifted away from the PLP and towards the OBA:

  • The appointment of former UBP leader Wayne Furbert to Cabinet, who immediately raised the Opposition(s) longstanding concept of a tourism authority
  • The co-opting of Opposition policy positions in the Throne Speech, as well as the direct lifting (without attribution) of exact Opposition phrases like "less red tape, more red carpet" in the Throne Speech.
  • The selection of pro-business candidates Vince Ingham and Stephen Todd, with Vince also in the Senate. It is important to note that both of these individuals had some older and some pretty recent ties to the Opposition.
  • The adoption of Bermuda First recommendations in the Throne Speech

There's a few other more subtle moves, but the message is obvious: you don't have to vote us out to get some better managers and better economic policy.

I was a bit surprised at Vince's appointment. I know Vince reasonably well and worked with him a number of times years ago after the UBP's defeat on a couple of initiatives. None really went very far. I respect him, and it's a coup for the PLP.

But it seems to me to be another of those Jonathan Smith, Stephen Todd kind of moves; decisions that appear to be about not joining the PLP out of commonality of views and philosophies but as a direct way to try and change the PLP from inside.

That's not really an endorsement of the PLP as such. I understand the sentiment although I'm often susprised that people with records of integrity are willing to get tangled up in a party still actively self-dealing.

To an extent that's a luxury that the party in power has in being able to attract candidates because you can throw more at them (Government boards, more Senate seats to play with etc.).

As I understand it there's also a feeling among some who have gone to the PLP that the public are still not ready to make the next step in Bermuda's political evolution of voting out the PLP.

I'm not sure that's an accurate read, but it's a legitimate open question and is surely behind the thinking of some historically Opposition leaning figures who have lined up with the PLP in recent times.

Again, that's sort of the change from within sentiment.

It's also something that the OBA will have to get to grips with and address in voters' minds. The first step is rolling out some more candidates. Not enough have been announced, and that's a mistake as they need to get people in place and working their areas.

Regardless, there's some good news for the Opposition in here, which is an acknowledgement from the PLP that they need to look more like the OBA to get re-elected, both people and policy wise.

That isn't really moving from a position of strength, but it would be wrong to not recognize that this is shrewd politics by the PLP and the Todd / Ingham candidacies are positive for them and their prospects. This is what electoral politics is all about.

My advice to the OBA would be to draw the voters attention to this, both the adoption of their ideas and words, shift to a more OBA look policy and people-wise; take credit for their ideas that the PLP have tried to present as their own, and tell the public that by voting OBA you can get the genuine article rather than window dressing; a watered down knock off trying to cling to power.

The ongoing collapse of the cruise sector is a clear case of mis-management, a lack of vision, infrastructure planning and execution.

What Bermuda needs now is vision and a team of managers in place. That isn't the PLP. They are still reacting rather than leading, and the mismanagement is cascading throughout all sectors of the economy.

The one attribute that was a liability for the Opposition historically could be their biggest asset in 2012 - they are managers. It's not sexy, but it's what Bermuda needs right now to get the Cox debt and unemployment off Bermuda's back so that we can grow the economy and start fixing the past 13 years of poor policy and shallow politics.

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The problem with the PLP's anti-OBA message is that within 12 hours they've both attacked the OBA by-election win as a 'UBP's Renaming Charade [that] Didn't Work" and appointed a former party leader of the UBP to Cabinet.

The PLP Parliamentary group have two former UBP members in Parliament, with one being a former party leader, which is coincidentlally as many UBP members as there are in Parliament, including a former party leader.

Sort of muddies the message. It becomes any ties with the UBP are toxic, except when they're not.

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The recent article on Cayman looking to end term limits demonstrated Paula Cox's propensity to resort to the blind em with BS approach in the absence of a solid argument:

"The benefit of the Bermuda immigration model is that it is dynamic and this highlights the flexibility of our policy.

"It is not enshrined in statute and so more absolute. Our approach differs from Cayman as they embedded their rollover policy in legislation, so it lacks the nimbleness of the Bermuda model.

"In our model the Minister responsible for Immigration can identify any additional carve outs, the ten-year work permit and the incentives for job makers, while continuing to keep the promise to Bermudians that we will not create additional long-term residents.

"This resonates further at this time when the Minister can send people home when their term limit expires to free up jobs for Bermudians. In addition, as work permit holders at the lower end cannot bring their families, many do not have an interest in settling in Bermuda.

"It should be noted that persons in key positions are granted waivers and we do facilitate those that cannot afford to recruit from overseas by granting extensions.

....

An anonymous businessman with companies in both Bermuda and Cayman swatted away some of her redirects.

The Premier and Finance Minister is either delusional or disingenuous - or both - if she seriously believes her own press release.

If you were to play a word association game with "Bermuda Immigration" as the topic, only the PLP could come up with "dynamic", "nimble" and "flexible".

Normal people not cranking out overly verbose press releases that say very little but contain a lot of words would come up with 'arbitrary', 'bureaucratic' and 'subjective' I suspect.

Bob Richards has it right although he was too gentle; this is about putting political pride before country, but the policy isn't just not working for Bermuda nor enhancing our attractiveness as he says, it's exporting jobs, costing everyday Bermudians their jobs, chasing away international investment and making us less attractiveness as a business centre.

They know this. They just don't want to admit that the centre-piece of their economic policy has drastically deepened and prolonged the recession. Hence, why this is not a global recession but the PLP recession.

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Full comments on Craig Cannonier's election as leader of the OBA as reported in RG today below.

A quick point. The question put to me wasn't "was Craig the wiser choice" as Tim frames it in the article.

It was:

"What does this selection mean for the direction of the OBA and do you see Sen Cannonier's non-political background as a pro or a con?"

I will comment more this evening on my general observations, but it was a very tough choice, with Bob giving the speech of his career from where I listened. I wouldn't have had a problem with Bob as leader to be honest.

I think where Bob's case fell apart was that it didn't seem critical to have the OBA Finance Spokesperson also as leader just because Paula Cox is also Finance Minister, and is more likely a negative.

There's no question in the OBA - as far as I can tell - that he is the right guy for the Finance job, but there was a sentiment that to combine them is a mistake and Craig represented a break from the old political model.

Most OBA people I heard from didn't buy that, and felt that a combination of Cannonier with Richards in Finance was the best of both worlds.

So, full comments follow:

Political blogger and PLP critic Mr Dunleavy said: "Craig Cannonier's selection, with a massive turnout, serves as tangible evidence that the merger of the BDA and UBP has resulted in a group which is greater than the sum of its parts.


"He deserves credit for recognising that the UBP-BDA dynamic was unsustainable and unproductive and taking a leap of faith, launching a new party and competing for the leadership.

"I think he might have been surprised at the run for his money he got from Bob Richards whose political growth has been immense over the past year."

Mr Dunleavy said Sen Cannonier's greatest strength is his ability to communicate passionately and skilfully, and connect with people on an emotional level.

"He can speak with authenticity to the struggling middle and working class under the PLP in a way that the Opposition has struggled with over the years," said Mr Dunleavy.

"The Opposition since 1998 has been too much head and not enough heart. Craig should be able to strike a better balance.

"The large and energised turnout to select a new leadership team of Craig and Michael Dunkley combined with Bob in Finance will have got the PLP's attention, whether they'll admit it or not.

"Most significantly the result demonstrates that the OBA membership and leadership is leading from the front to deliver Bermuda from a 1960s political cold war into the modern era where we belong.

"Craig's lack of political background is an asset. He doesn't lack experience, he possesses real world experience. Real world experience, combined with credible political experience, is where Bermuda politics needs to go.

"The PLP's Parliamentary group has decades of political experience individually in some cases, and judging by where Bermuda finds itself today, career politicians hasn't served us well."

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Sigh.

If the results of the 2007 PLP election campaign weren't bad enough ($1B in debt, record levels of crime, all time tourism lows etc.) they double down on their most dishonest election tactic of 2007 and re-ignite the 8,000 new Bermudians lie, that even their own Derrick Burgess exposed as a lie in the waning days of the election campaign.

This is sheer desperation, incredibly shameless, and more than a bit worrying.

As the PLP gears up into election mode, their commitment to the truth plummets and their willingness to say anything goes off the charts.

Now that they are trying to walk back most of their 2007 election promises, including offering permanent residency to some expats and dropping land licenses, they've decided to try and put the focus on the Opposition who predicted exactly what the PLP have created.

Let's recap what the PLP claimed in 2007: the economy was bullet-proof. Crime was down. Tourism was in a turnaround. Education was doing great. Transport would be free. Healthcare would be free. Daycare would be free. Just for starters.

The reality? The economy has tanked and is still contracting. Crime has skyrocketed both in frequency and severity. Tourism is languishing at all time lows. Education is still flailing. Transport is not free - the pink ferry route has doubled in cost. Healthcare is in a PLP made crisis. Daycare isn't free.

You'd think that after running Bermuda into the ground the PLP would display just an ounce of seriousness heading into an election for a change.

Nope. It's going to be circus side show PLP all over again. Wake me up when it's over.

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The short article today entitled "OECD plans could be death penalty for Bermuda" raises an issue that I'm surprised hasn't been raised locally in any meaningful way.

The PLP proudly boast about the number of Tax Information Exhange Agreements that Paula Cox has signed as if the total signed are equal to points on a scoreboard, and how we're doing everything and anything asked for under the European Solvency II regime, as evidence of the PLP's fiscal prowess.

While these are complex issues that help certain aspects of our international business (large global (re)insurers in particular), they are also hugely damaging to other areas of international business (non-class 4 (re)insurers, capitives for example).

The Premier and Finance Minister continually claims her total capitulation on these fronts as huge accomplishments.

But they are really house-keeping and issues that should be negotiated down to do as little damage as possible while achieving the minimal level of compliance.

The main intent of the OECD and European regulators is to try and help their uncompetitive failing financial centres by rendering Bermuda and others less competitive, not some altruistic campaign for global financial transparency.

Simply being led around by European bureaucrats, doing their bidding, as the Premier and Bermuda Monetary Authority look from the outside to be, is a gift these bloated uncompetitive high tax jurisdiction surely can't believe keeps on giving.

The TIEA's signed are overwhelmingly one sided and aren't doing Bermuda any favours. Simply racking up as many as you can as quickly as you can is an abdication of your duty to protect and further Bermuda's competitiveness.

Signing these TIEAs, and doing what the EU says we should do, does not constitute an economic vision for Bermuda. It is, as Mr. Mitchell from the Cato Institute says:

"Basically ...the death penalty for Bermuda and other jurisdictions," he said.

"Whether they get to their final goal in five, 10 or 15 years depends on how much each jurisdiction fights it."

So far there has been no fight in the Cox Government or Finance Ministry, just capitulation.

I'm surprised the Opposition haven't seized more on this, although it is a bit of a wonky topic. But if broached correctly it is an important topic to a community pretty plugged into international business issues who get the need to continue to innovate and increase our competitive edge, not just become some watered down has-been international finance centre; a shadow of our former self.

If this were sports, and Paula Cox were the coach of a basketball team for example, the other coach would be screaming that her players were all too fit, tall and accurate shooters.

Her response?

She'd be canceling practice, feeding them donuts before every game and benching her stars for the 4th quarter and claiming victory.

When I read press releases such as the last two from the PLP entitled "PLP Government Implementing Global Financial Standards" and today's gushing "Bermuda: Our Star is Shining on the International Stage" that are so devoid of substance and understanding of what created Bermuda's economic miracle, it's shocking. And scary.

Bermuda succeeded because we were different; a good place to do business.

All this foreign driven regulation and anti-competitive political pressure is designed to turn that on its head.

Stop boasting about the TIEAs and Bermuda's compliance with old world financial jurisdictions and start articulating the vision to grow Bermuda's economy and sharpen our focus.

So far it's clear that Paula Cox and her colleagues don't have a clue how to stop Bermuda's economic contraction and are completely banking on a global economic recovery to bail them out.

But the real challenge for Bermuda is not just stopping the bleeding, but getting back the competitive edge that the PLP blew.

Today's Bermuda Sun article presents a huge opportunity for the OBA to go right at the PLP's cluelessness:

The economy is another potential problem area for the PLP but party activists believe people will accept that Bermuda's problem is part of a wider global picture and will trust the PLP to protect Bermudian jobs.

If Bermuda's problems are part of a wider global picture, why then, are Bermuda's companies moving to Ireland - which has far greater economic problems than Bermuda (for now)? That claim doesn't hold up to the least amount of scrutiny. The PLP haven't protected jobs but chased them away.

Why would you trust the party that presided over unprecedented job losses, and continues to now in education and at public golf courses, with protecting jobs? It's a ridiculous assertion.

But the PLP have to say it, because the alternative is to acknowledge that their dogma is diametrically opposed to Bermuda's economic and social well being. The PLP's policies are incompatible with economic prosperity and the social progress and safety net that funds.

The PLP insider said:

"Everything the Opposition wants to do is connected with money and business. However many times they want to change their name it is still the Barritts, the Dunkleys and the Gibbons's.

"How can you fight price rises in the supermarkets when you profit from those price rises? How can you complain about insurance costs for seniors when you own an insurance company?

"When push comes to shove, who do people think will look out for them? The PLP or the Oppostion?"

Not a bad way to redirect from Paula Cox's horrendous economy, one characterised by previously unknown issues to Bermuda like unemployment and foreclosures.

The Opposition, who are conspicuously silent since they launched and missing a huge opportunity to make a strong first impression, should quickly reframe it for what it is.

Everything the Opposition wants to do is about jobs and prosperity for all Bermudians. It's been done before and it can be done again. Just not by the PLP.

That's the connection more and more Bermudians are making. Ask those 30 paraprofessionals just laid off due to Paula Cox and her colleagues' economic mismanagement.

The OBA should be labeling this as "Paula Cox's recession", or "The PLP recession". And "Paula Cox's lay offs" for example. The language is quite simple.

Make the connection for people in a way they can relate to.

And, most importantly, prior to the election. The OBA should be reminding people of what the PLP's last election campaign claimed and did.

They claimed with an admirable poker face that: crime was declining, tourism was up and the economy was bullet-proof.

What are Bermudians experiencing daily? The PLP unwinding their own policies quietly (the latest being the 90 day yacht stay policy), crime continuing to spiral out of control, and the PLP's policy rollbacks a tacit admission that they cannot afford their own election promises.

If they lied to the electorate last time, why should the electorate believe any of their claims, promises and demagoguery this time?

The OBA have to plant that seed now. Today. Not in 2 months in the height of an election campaign when people's buttons are being pushed relentlessly and fear-mongering is in full effect.

We've just witnessed independence raised. There's no way the PLP want to run on Independence as an election issue. No way. It's a colossal loser.

So why raise it then?

Independence is a convenient stalking horse to introduce race during the soft launch of the election period of course. Independence will be quickly dropped, but the racial button pushing will persist.

We've done this dance before. The OBA have to remind the public of what went down in 2007, and what happened in its wake, so that they recognize it for what it is as it unfolds again according to the script.

Then of course it looks contrived and insincere, which of course it is.

As that connection is made they should then ask the voters if they want 5 more years like the last 5; a half decade which ushered in economic and social pain previously unheard of in Bermuda, and overseen by a party too proud and/or blind to stop and reverse it?

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The OBA doesn't need to mirror the FNM in Bahamas, or anything else. They need to drive a new paradigm in Bermuda. Descending into lively, at times amusing, but politically unproductive defenses of personal disputes and predictable attacks on them does nothing to help position them to win the next election and define themselves in the crucial first impression phase.

The PLP's obsession with the UBP is their problem, not the OBA's. The OBA should let the PLP look backwards and talk endlessly about the UBP amongst themselves while the OBA talks to the voters about the future.

Wayne Furbert's only relevance and utility to the PLP is to attack his former UBP colleagues and defend his new PLP ones; the same ones who mocked him viciously during his time as UBP leader.

John Barritt has it right:


"For the longest time, I think all members will agree, we have been calling for a change in politics in this Country," said Mr Barritt.

"You can hear people say it all the time: can you please do better? This is a genuine attempt to try and change the old UBP-PLP dynamic.

"Already we get decried and criticised. It's people's right to do that and there's political mileage in that."

The PLP will never get over the UBP. Never. The PLP and UBP are two sides of the same coin and the voters are seeing that more and more as the PLP wrecks Bermuda's economy and presides over a massive escalation in violent crime and debt.

The majority of voters can see this and have moved on from 1960's fights. That is who the OBA should be talking directly to, not fringe players like Wayne Furbert who is desperately seeking the approval of his new colleagues; colleagues who will never trust him and never give him a real role.

In time, as an election approaches, the usual suspects will be trotted out to recycle their attacks as proxies so that Paula Cox can stay above the fray, just as they did in the closing days of the 2007 election.

That's politics, but it's not productive.

The OBA should talk over the PLP directly to the people. Don't take the bait.

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