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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 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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As the operator of an (alleged) pyramid scheme, politely called a multi-level marketing scheme, I understand how Wayne finds it plausible that (the completely fragmented Opposition) pulled off a highly orchestrated multi-year sham to defraud people, over 4 years, ending with a (not-at-all tidy) merger.

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The move today by 7 UBP MPs effectively short circuited any legal attempt to block the merger of the UBP and BDA and has ended, in every meaningful way the UBP.

It's a shame that the dissolution of the party descended into a farce courtesy of the actions of Kim Swan and a couple of others. Kim is a friend, and someone who loves Bermuda in the purest sense, but he did himself and the party a disservice with his actions of the past week.

There is so much to say about what happened, but this is a time to look forward not back. Bermuda been doing that for far too long.

I am energised by the emergence of the One Bermuda Alliance, and am convinced that despite the predictable attempts to try and re-UBP it that will come, this signals the closing of a chapter of Bermuda politics.

Bermuda's politics remains today largely structured, defined and constrained by the events of the 1960s and 70s. That time was one of huge significance and progress for Bermuda, but the Bermuda of today is not the Bermuda of yesterday. We need new leadership, around today's issues, with the next generation of Bermudians stepping up and claiming their place in shaping Bermuda's future.

I welcome the emergence of the One Bermuda Alliance and the change that it will bring, despite those who will feel threatened by it and try to brute force it back into the only box they know.

I also congratulate John Barritt on his imminent appointment as interim leader. John is someone who over the past decade or so I have grown to know well and respect immensely. Bermuda will be well served by John, even temporarily.

I fully intend to join the OBA after spending the better part of the past 5 years with no political affiliation and look forward to working again with so many of my friends. Of course there will be ups and downs, but I hope, I sincerely hope, that this can be the end of the debilitating and endless internal drama of the Opposition of the last decade.

This move tomorrow can be the beginning of a substantive change that is long overdue in Bermuda politics.

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I'm speechless with the news that a small group of UBP members/MPs have filed an injunction to prevent the winding up of the UBP.

This is lunacy. It's over. Let it go. Time to move on.

One of this year's National Heroes, Jack Tucker, knew when it was time to break with the past and chart a new course. This is another of those times.

Give it up guys. What are you trying to save? The UBP is over.

If these guys don't join up with the One BA, then all this merger effort, which has taken months, a year even, will be for nothing and you'll simply have another rump 3rd party that is no longer viable. This time it will be the UBP.

Let. It. Go. It's time. Past time actually.

(Ok, so I wasn't speechless.)

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The PLP website's extremely clumsy effort to work dismissive references about the One Bermuda Alliance into the title, beginning and end of a mundane article about the Premier's annual visit to the RIMS conference, on the back of yesterday's predictable and unimaginative put down of the merger, suggests that they're worried (and need better PR people).

Not to mention that the "same people, same backers, same policies" line is likely to backfire. That's much more applicable to the latest iteration of the PLP class of 1998 with the exact same people, same backers and same policies which broke Bermuda in twelve short years than it is anyone else.

Hence Paula Cox's rapid plunge in the polls.

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With the latest installment of free was never free, and the PLP unwinding yet another of the PLP's election promises which never made sense in the first place, the One Bermuda Alliance Opposition should start broadening the response, and not keep them narrowly focused on each f-up.

The real kind of connections they should be helping the voter make is:

If the PLP can't deliver their 2007 election promises why should you believe the next set?

If the PLP can't fix a minor bus and ferry problem, surely no-one can believe that they can fix the economy they broke, the violent crime outbreak they denied, the tourism freefall they branded a turnaround and education that is not really an education?

If the PLP said tourism was turning around why is it at an all time low?

If the PLP said crime was declining why are we averaging one shooting murder a month in 2011?

These aren't isolated issues, they're all interconnected to a fundamentally flawed public policy, an inability to effectively run the most basic apparatus of Government, a glib willingness to campaign on knowingly empty and undeliverable promises, and a public sector infrastructure that is crumbling due to projects being built to achieve the goal of redistributing public sector wealth to a handful of insiders, not the greater public interest.

All that is happening now, transport cuts as tourism season kicks in (our 4% second economic 'pillar'), police cuts as violent crime spirals out of control and debt escalation are all because of those supposed victimless scandals of the BHC, the Berkeley overspend, the cruise ship terminal overspend and the TCD overspend to name a couple.

As the former BPSU head said, the PLP's screw ups were paid for by the UBP's sensible economic policies that carried them for ten years.

The corruption and waste of the past decade weren't victimless and without consequence. They just seemed that way because the UBP's economy was so robust.

The Bermuda Government should be sitting on several hundred million dollars of surpluses which they can use to hire more police officers, put on more buses, spend on the current account and stimulate with capital spending as revenues decline. Instead we're incurring expensive debt which could take more than 10 years to retire - and only if the hard sacrifices are made now to return Bermuda to sensible fiscal policy, which is not happening.

The UBP have tried to connect the dots in their budget replies over the years. But it was intangible because the effects of that mismanagement took years to metastasize. Now things are different. The critique has real examples and should be hammered home.

It's not enough to be right. The Opposition have to be persuasive. You can't drive change unless you win elections.

As the One BA emerges over the coming days (hopefully not weeks), one of the positives is that the Opposition can reboot the critique and start planting the seed in voters' heads of what I think their campaign should be.

Which would be something like:

Bermuda: They broke it. We'll fix it.

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And VSB News wins the party name lottery by reporting that the UBP-BDA merged entity will be called The One Bermuda Alliance or OBA (or perhaps One BDA?) (not the greatest ring to the short version) - but the name isn't really what's important in this merger exercise. For those wondering, it's an amalgamation of the UBP's "One Bermuda" slogan and the BDA's "Alliance".

If you needed confirmation do a WHOIS lookup at BermudaNIC for and there it is in all it's glory, registered to my good BDA friend Mr. Branco.

On the plus side, current UBP leader Kim Swan will have a great nickname: OBA Wan Kim Swannee.

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Well that didn't take long.

After 5 months as Premier Ms. Cox's approval rating has plunged to Ewart Brown territory at 29% (although he went lower), and the PLP's approval as Government down to an anemic 16%.

I'm a little surprised with the speed which the ratings have plunged, not that so many people disapprove, particularly because I thought the "anyone but Brown" bounce would last a bit longer than this. So much of Paula Cox's personal popularity over the past few years has been her being a blank slate and the light at the end of the Brown tunnel, but as she's come into office holding both the Premier's position and Finance, the reality of where Bermuda is and how she contributed to getting us there seems to have taken over.

I don't think there's too much interpretation to be done here, the ratings are bad because things are happening and being discussed in Bermuda that never were previously: Unemployment, foreclosures and a murder epidemic.

Never before has Bermuda experienced these things in a widespread way. Never.

I often ask people what the PLP would be doing and saying if the UBP had been in power for 12 years and was responsible for record unemployment, open discussion of foreclosures and a gun murder a month?

The answer is self-evident. They would be absolutely hammering them, and rightly so. We'd see marches, resignation demands, huge drumming up of public outrage - all that stuff that the PLP excel at. What they don't excel at it is governing and making the hard choices of public policy. The bad news for the Premier is that her ratings have fallen on the back of what I would describe as a dishonest budget that was supposed to prop up her popularity briefly - an election budget - that doesn't begin to make the inevitable choices that the Premier would make after an election (civil service job cuts, tax increases, slashing of services).

The UBP is pretty much the complete inverse of the PLP; good at public policy and managing but awful at the politics - although they have played the long game on finance and I think are seeing some dividends as their warnings are playing out.

The answer for a successful party and country is finding that sweet spot in the middle of reality based politics with reality based public policy.

What's also interesting is that this disapproval of the PLP and Premier is not translating in any real sense into support for the Opposition. Or Oppositions.

And that is the issue.

From a purely political perspective the environment is as hostile to an incumbent party and favourable for change as it can ever be. This is about as good as it gets from the Opposition perspective, but there has to be a viable alternative.

It is telling that the UBP and BDA's combined support in the poll exceeds the PLP (even after the BDA's support has been cut in half). I wouldn't read too much into that, but it is relevant.

It suggests that people are looking at their options, but don't see the UBPBDA as an option.

And who can blame them. The length of time that this merger has taken to get done - and it will get done, and is on the verge of getting done as I understand it - is lost time.

Once the new entity is announced and launched, they have to work double time.

The UBP tend to expend a lot of energy on things that the voters don't care about. Like fine tuning the party constitution and getting lost in internal procedural minutiae. Voters don't care about that, and the marginal return is very, very marginal - arguably negative. Those things are important over the mid to long term, but now the focus has to be on putting together the basic framework, putting candidates in place and getting out in front of the public.

I was hoping that this would have been done in December. The first 3 months of the year could have been spent introducing the entity and defining its priorities and identity on their own terms (as much as is possible with someone counter branding you). April, May and June would be all out communication/campaign mode, driving and reinforcing a tight message on the economy, crime and education in anticipation of a summer election.

Voters have to be receptive to an alternative after the PLP's policies and politics have been exposed as incompatible with Bermuda's prosperity and social stability, but a lot of that goodwill might have been squandered in an overly long merger exercise.

Of course the Budget debate dropped in the middle was part of that, where the UBP (and a subset of that) do the heavy lifting of the Official Opposition. But that time can't be recovered and it's time to keep moving forward.

The poll results today would perhaps give the Premier second thoughts about going to an election in June or July. August is just too damn hot (as is July for that matter) and I don't think too many people want another Christmas election. The vitriol just kills the holiday fun!

The Premier would probably not want to go into an election in this environment with her poll numbers low and not much good news on the horizon absent a disorganized and fragmented Opposition. Waiting gives a new Opposition time to get more organized and time to reconnect with a newly accessible voting public.

Her options aren't great, but nor are they as bad as they should be. What I suspect could happen is that the Premier will keep her options open with a view to a summer election. If the environment continues to worsen, and the Opposition look better positioned, she might wait for any minor uptick in support or good news to quickly pull the trigger and capitalise on it.

In many ways that was where the UBP were in 1998, aware that the environment was against them but waiting for a bit of good news and respite to go to the polls and hope to eek it out, or at least minimize the losses.

The big difference is that unlike the UBPBDA the Opposition PLP was very well organised - a known and newly moderate entity in a state of constant campaign readiness - and the public felt it was their time.

The message for the Opposition(s) couldn't be clear to me.

The BDA signed their death warrant by acknowledging that they were talking to the UBP about a merger early this year. The UBP, even their most loyalist supporters, know that the party has run its course. Both Oppositions are aware that Bermuda is best served by the UBP and BDA coming back together as a new entity, taking the best of both worlds and asking the voters: "Do you want more of the same or positive change and a reversal of Bermuda's PLP driven decline?"

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I'm not sure what kind of numbers the PLP - outside of Cabinet - have in Parliament for this SDO for Tucker's Point. And regardless of how you feel about what essentially amounts to a Government bailout of a private corporation and HSBC's loan department, there is a lot going on here.

Firstly, and usually around election time, the PLP make a lot of noise about land being appropriated from black families by the Bermuda Government to create what is now Tucker's Town. So, with the SDO action they are demonstrating that when it comes to tourism they would have and will do the same, by handing over the same land for foreign ownership. They have now ceded that as an issue (not that they won't keep bringing it up when politically expedient and playing golf there with a clear conscience).

Secondly, if I were the Opposition, which I'm not, I'd be looking to apply some pressure here to force Government's hand (to the extent that they don't have the numbers themselves), and withhold any support for a re-zoning and additional sales of residential units to non-Bermudians until the Government:

  • abandons their discriminatory land license policy which prevents Bermudian families with one not yet Bermudian spouse from owning more than one property and disadvantages them in the real estate market.
  • reinstates the previous policy which allowed Bermudians with qualifying homes to sell those to non-Bermudians, which is what the Tucker's Point Special Development Order is designed to accomplish for a corporation.

Why should Bermudian individuals be treated as second class citizens while corporations, and foreign banks are given preferential treatment to prop up their bad business decisions?

I understand the value of a resort like Tucker's Point succeeding as being critical to Bermuda's tourism industry, but it's at least 50% a real estate sales model, and Government is demonstrating incredible hypocrisy and hostility to its own citizens - and undermining the local real estate sector of the economy - by treating Bermudian families as less important than corporations.

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So, the UBP - BDA merger, into clearly a new entity, is imminent.

This is a very positive development that bodes well for both entities and puts months, or years of uncertainty and anxiety to bed. The leadership of the new group will surely be a mix of leadership from both and a mix in the Senate lineup as well which is a win for the BDA.

The social issues can be overcome, I just really hope that this marks the end of infighting, public spats and back-biting, and a renewed energy among the Opposition. The UBP has been fighting since the mid 90s, and the public, and themselves I suspect have had enough.

The BDA have managed to create a group of relatively inexperienced but energised Bermudians genuinely interested in moving the island forward, while the UBP still possess significant experience and credibility on the economic front which is paramount in people's minds, and Parliamentary skills.

If the new group can succeed in melding the best of each entity, and remaining focused on the ultimate goal of success at the polls, Bermuda will be well served.

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I was having a conversation today with someone in the UBP where I raised an issue which got some attention on the Let's Talk Bermuda show on ZBM Channel 9 this evening (which again suffers from BBC's awful production values - muted audio levels, terrible picture quality to name the obvious), and is my primary critique of the UBP and BDA separately, and combined, by some of those involved.

Specifically it's the recurring phrase of late justifying a merger 'that Bermuda needs a strong opposition'.

Talk about setting the bar low. This sentiment lacks ambition. It is such a defeatist sentiment that it should never be uttered by anyone in Opposition, let alone those in leadership positions.

Bermuda does not need a strong Opposition, it needs an alternative Government. The goal of a merger, which is inevitable now that both sides - but in particular the BDA - have finally acknowledged that talks have been ongoing for some time now, is not to create a strong Opposition, it is to create a credible and viable group which can attract real support at the next election and articulates an ambitious vision for renewal.

It's ok to acknowledge the challenge of achieving this, but the individuals and organisation must have their eye on the real goal. Voters don't want to vote for an Opposition, they want to check next to a future Government.

This was one of the two fundamental missteps of the BDA launch and first year. Firstly they launched without anyone from the PLP, which gave a first impression of simply a UBP splinter group (which it turned out to be). Secondly, it quickly became apparent that they were fixated on the UBP as their primary opponent, not the governing party. It's difficult to energise people to work for second place.

If this lack of ambition persists into the launch of whatever the merged entity is they might as well not merge.

You saw this sentiment again today with UBP Chairperson Jeanne Atherdon implying that the merger talks should take a back seat to the Budget Reply:

"I think everybody is mindful of the fact that Bermuda needs to have one Opposition party," she said yesterday. "A divided Opposition is not as effective."

Sen Atherden said that while many in the public may be focused on the possible merger, the UBP still had to focus on the Budget, which will be delivered on February 11.

The 'strong Opposition' line is one the PLP use a lot, but it's not a compliment and not genuine in my view. It's condescending, with the underlying message that the UBP/BDA should be content as Opposition because that's their default/natural role, and the PLP has some sort of moral and perpetual claim to govern, and that their 3 decades in Opposition were an anomaly. The flip side is that it suggests the PLP see it as the Opposition's role to check them, not their own members role to check themselves when they overstep - their backbench is too weak.

Sen. Atherden's comment also highlights another criticism I've had of the UBP; they place too much emphasis on the day to day legislative tasks and too little on the bigger picture of positioning themselves to win. This isn't just incessant shallow campaigning, but keeping to your broad themes and reinforcing them in your actions and statements.

The UBP downplay the basic activities of an Opposition - which is to reconnect with voters, craft your agenda and sell your vision - and overplay tweaking legislation and making formal replies.

Legislation is not unimportant, particularly with a PLP who cares little for drafting quality legislation, but changing the Government is the best way to have an effect on public policy - particularly in an environment where the PLP essentially dismiss anything they say anyway and have much stronger internal discipline than the UBP.

The UBP, as recently and repeatedly demonstrated by Bob Richards in Finance, value being right over being persuasive. Bob, and his predecessor Shadows in Finance, have been dead on in predicting the consequences of the PLP's financial mismanagement, but he has not been particularly persuasive.

Another final point. While the BDA as a splinter group needed a PLP MP or two to cross over - at launch - to really make the kind of first impression they needed as a 'better way', the reality at this point is that PLP loyalty remains high, and that loyalty is boosted by being the Government.

As the UBP has seen years now of internal discord, so did the PLP as Opposition. It seems unlikely that the PLP will have the kind of public splits that the UBP in the late 90s did if they lacked the principle and convictions to make a strong stand against the misrule of their Premier Brown.

A new party, a merged entity, does not have to have high profile PLP cross-overs to be viable or credible. It would help, but it's not going to happen now with a new personally popular Premier. It's the PLP that has thrown Bermuda into this financial and social mess over the past 12 years, they clearly lack the answers, so why try to recruit over there? The PLP benches don't have any real talent that stands out. Paula Cox's decision that she didn't have anyone capable of handling the Finance portfolio when she took over as Premier should confirm that.

What I would argue is more important now is for a new entity to be able to activate the sideliners, those educated, skilled and successful Bermudians who have thus far opted out of politics. That is where the Opposition(s) should be looking to bolster their candidate lineup, and it's also up to these side-liners to step up and put themselves forward for public service as the problems facing Bermuda are too significant to be treated as a spectator sport.

That luxury is gone. Bermuda needs pragmatic policies and a new vision. The PLP have not demonstrated any propensity for either and continue to maintain anti-Bermudian policies out of pride and face-saving.

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I've been trying to post a bit on the polls, which I still intend to do, but wanted to quickly focus on my hobby horse of the past few months that I've been quiet on lately, namely the increasing chatter (and denials and pseudo denials) of a UBP-BDA merger, re-unification or whatever you want to call it.

One of the most compelling aspects of the recent poll results is that they demonstrate that the split in the UBP and emergence of the BDA has been a net loss for both. The parts are worth less than their whole, and you can see that in the numbers. What the by-election in December also proved I think is that when the push comes to the shove the Opposition is almost split right down the middle, although with a better UBP candidate I think they would have performed better and will in a general election where voters won't roll the dice on an untested new party.

The by-election didn't show any gains by the PLP, or huge losses by the total of the Opposition vote. It pretty much showed the status quo, and I think the status quo is a result of uncertainty about an alternative to the PLP.

The poll party performance is also a bit fuzzy, in the sense that it is hard to quantify the explicit 'new leader bump', to separate some of the impact of a leadership change in the PLP from a toxic leader to one who holds extremely high positives (a component of that due in no small part to the rather low standard of not being her predecessor - virtually anyone was a material upgrade in most people's eyes, but Paula Cox does have her own individual cross-over appeal which seems to transcend - for now - her poor performance in Finance.)

So for me, the conclusion of the poll is that practically, dispassionately, pragmatically, an amalgamation has to occur for a) the UBP not to be reduced to only the safest of safe seats and b) the BDA to be obliterated.

I still am convinced that this will ultimately happen, hopefully sooner rather than later, but like corporate mergers it's not the business logic that gets messy, it's the social issues, and those social issues can sometimes inhibit execution after mergers and acquisitions as well.

Truthfully, I think the social issues between the UBP and BDA are minor and completely manageable because most of the individuals have all worked together previously, and philosophically the parties are aligned. I don't underestimate personality, ambition and ego, the influence of which has been the real eye-opener for me in participating and watching politics closely for some time now.

These kinds of negotiations and arrangements can be tough to navigate and delicate. I do think that time is running out, that Paula Cox would be nuts not to go to an election around the summer, with or without a unified Opposition. So if they're going to do this now is the time.

I'm going to return to the polls in a subsequent post, but I think that it is extremely likely that turnout will be depressed at the next election, and that hurts the PLP and helps the Opposition.

The PLP's strategy in 2007 was based on simply trying to keep turnout high and making the UBP toxic, so that if you can drag people - however reluctantly to the polls - they're not going to spoil their ballots in any large numbers and the stigma campaign against the UBP would cause undecideds to break heavily PLP (which I think is what occurred).

I'm not so sure at the next election the PLP can count on a similarly high turnout, other than appeals on the back of a popular Premier in a honeymoon period. The economic and social issues have exploded in the last few years and this has to suppress turnout somewhat.

So if turnout drops, and a unified Opposition party can hold and perhaps slightly build on that 47% from 2007, with new boundaries and more competitive constituencies, you could see some interesting results. Not necessarily the PLP losing, but a reduced majority I think is possible with a well executed campaign and credible candidates.

I find it hard to believe that the 47% who were not impressed with the PLP in 2007 are now suddenly impressed with them today, after such terrible mismanagement of the economy and escalating social dysfunction.

So on that basis there is an opportunity for some gains for the Opposition, but not if they go into an election separately. That's just a blood bath.

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A few quick thoughts on the shifting party dynamics going on with all 3 parties:

  • The relative quiet from the UBP and BDA suggests to me that they're working quietly towards some sort of an amalgamation/new combined party and have dropped the back and forth.
  • The shifting party lines is accelerating due to the economic problems as people feel compelled to stop the rot and know the PLP lack the answers.
  • Maxwell going to the PLP isn't a big surprise, but I think the longer the UBP-BDA rationalisation takes the more likely sideliners are to look elsewhere for a way to get involved
  • The trickle of former UBPers into the PLP is good for them but not totally without downside - how long before the PLP are open to being called the PUP, ULP or something like that?

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