The Last Post

When I restarted this blog in November, I said that I didn't know how long I'd be back for. After giving it some thought over Christmas and New Year, I've decided that I'm done.

I expected the electorate to send the PLP a message by, at a minimum, returning them to office with fewer seats and a lower percentage of the vote. Their failure to do so was a clear signal that there is no room for well-meaning criticism or thoughtful debate in Bermudian politics today. As such, I see little point continuing to blog.

Tom Vesey is right: the only people who can criticise today's PLP government are other members of the PLP. Anyone else should expect to have their criticisms met with an ad hominem attack, not with a reasoned rebuttal.

If you're white, you will be accused of being a racist. If you're black, you will be accused of being a race traitor. If you're a non-Bermudian, you will be told to keep your mouth shut and go back to the country you came from. If you're a journalist, you'll be accused of being in league with the UBP. If you're in the UBP, you'll be accused of wanting to take the country back to the days of segregation, or even slavery.

I have no desire to participate in such a dysfunctional system any longer. Indeed, I've come to believe that by continuing to criticise the government, I will only make things worse.

The election demonstrated that criticism does not hurt the PLP. On the contrary, it makes it stronger. Any external criticism validates widespread feelings of victimhood within the party and helps unite its various factions.

Painful though it may be in the short-term, I think the best way forward for Bermuda is to give the PLP what it wants. The media needs to muffle its criticism. Unaffiliated and pro-UBP blogs need to fall silent. And, notwithstanding my earlier comments, the Opposition needs to disband and become a group of independents.

It's a radical prescription, and not without its risks. But taking away most of the opposition to the PLP is, I believe, the best way to encourage those within the party to hold it to account. Moreover, in the absence of an external foe, it is not unrealistic to hope that the party's internal disagreements may eventually lead to a split. It would certainly be ironic if those who have called for the end of the UBP were to get their wish only to find that it led to the end of the PLP too.

I can't rule out restarting A Limey In Bermuda one day. But I doubt it will happen until there is a significant improvement in Bermuda's political climate.

So it just remains to thank everyone for reading over the last four years, and for all your comments and emails in that time. Through this blog I have learned a great deal about Bermuda and come into contact with many interesting people who I would never otherwise have met. Running this site was also instrumental in making me take an interest in my adopted home, prompting me to attend many public meetings and forums that I would otherwise have ignored. Something that those who believe that non-Bermudians should stay out of local politics should reflect upon, perhaps.

Limey out.

» 21 Square writes "Those eagerly awaiting the return of my regular blogging efforts may be disappointed as I am still contemplating the value of returning. Largely, the run up to and subsequent results of the recent election have left medisillusioned with politics and..."

» Politics.bm writes "Well, The Limey has wound things up (not surprising) and Denis over at 21 Square is unsure of whether he'll continue. In the words of Bill Clinton, "I feel your pain". Phil at Limey never really came back with any......"

Disbanding the UBP won't change anything

Anyone who believes the the re-branding, re-structuring or breakup of the UBP will have any impact on local politics is dreaming.

If the UBP continues to exist in any form, with any name, the PLP will still be able to brand it as the party of white Bermuda.

And if the UBP breaks up and is replaced by another party, the UBP's former supporters are likely to simply transfer their allegiance to that new entity, enabling the PLP to keep demonising it in the same way.

It's just like the suggestion that the UBP would be more appealing to blacks with a black leader. It wouldn't. Wayne Furbert's stint in charge proved that. A black leader would simply be portrayed as a puppet of the white men who are supposedly running things behind the scenes.

I see only three ways in which race can be taken out of politics, and hence Bermuda can obtain a functional democracy.

The first is if the PLP voluntarily stops the use of racially divisive language. That doesn't mean that they have to stop talking about race. It just means that they have to stop talking about it in such an offensive, provocative manner. I don't see that happening any time soon, however, and certainly not while the party remains under the leadership of Ewart Brown.

The second is if the electorate reject the PLP's use of that language. Unfortunately, Tuesday's election suggested quite the opposite.

The final way is if both parties were to break up, and two (or more) new political entities were to form from the pieces. However, with a fresh election win under the PLP's belt, that seems like the most unlikely scenario of all.

A troubling reappointment

Nelson Bascome should be considered innocent until proven guilty of the charges of theft that are still outstanding against him.

Nevertheless, in February this year they (along with allegations of corruption that were subsequently dismissed) were considered sufficient grounds for his resignation from Cabinet. Odd then, that even though the theft charge will not be heard in court until April, the Premier felt no compunction about reappointing him to the Cabinet today.

It's the first sign that the Premier is interpreting the PLP's election victory as a licence to ignore propriety.

A victory for ignorance

"Do you want a Government that will refuse to submit to public scrutiny?" Bermudians were asked yesterday. "Yes!" was the resounding answer.

"Do you want a Government that will pass poorly thought-out, discriminatory legislation?"

"Yes!"

"Do you want a Government that will respond to its critics with emotion rather than intelligence?"

"Yes!"

"Do you want a Government that will consider white Bermudians second-class citizens?"

"Yes!"

'Do you want a Government that will use racially-charged language?"

"Yes!"

"Do you want a Government that will lie and misrepresent?"

"Yes!"

You can't argue with democracy. Bermudians have the Government they deserve.

Why I hope the UBP will win

I can't vote in tomorrow's election. I won't be able to vote in the one after that, either. The earliest I'll be able to do so is 2013, once I have been married to my Bermudian wife for 10 years.

When that day finally arrives, I hope that Bermudian politics will have matured sufficiently that I feel I have a real choice in how to cast my ballot. I don't mean a choice between the UBP and not voting, or a choice between not voting and spoiling my ballot. I want to feel that I have a choice between the PLP and the UBP.

Right now, I don't feel that I have any choice at all. There is simply no way that I could vote for today's PLP. I loathe their use of racially divisive rhetoric, be it Ewart Brown's "racist dog", Lovitta Foggo's "back to the plantation", David Burch's "house niggers" or Derrick Burgess' "maidservant of her master". I cannot abide the shrill tone in which the party conducts itself, hysterically denouncing their political opponents rather than offering calm, logical rebuttals of their criticisms. I am appalled by their lack of accountability, refusing to answer even the simplest questions about their performance and going to extraordinary lengths to try to muzzle the press. I dislike their chauvinistic championing of black Bermudians at the expense of white Bermudians and foreigners, who I think are often made to feel like second-class citizens. And I think that the party is generally incompetent, as evidenced by their passage of the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act, legislation that even the Premier admits he does not understand.

In order for me to feel like I have a choice when I vote in the election after next, the PLP needs to fundamentally change. The racial rhetoric has to go. The shrill tone has to be replaced by a sober, mature manner. They need to demonstrate a willingness to be held accountable by the press and the public. And they must refrain from passing any more bad, discriminatory legislation like the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act.

The only way I see this happening is if the PLP lose tomorrow's election. A loss would be a powerful rejection of their conduct and might - just might - be enough to shock them into behaving in a more responsible manner. If they are shown that they can play the race card and still lose, perhaps they will recognise that it is no longer a card worth playing.

In contrast, a win would be disastrous. It would send the message that Bermudians favour emotion over logic, distortions over truth, evasion over accountability, chauvinism over inclusiveness. It would encourage the party to maintain the tone it has set during the campaign over the next five years of government, and embolden them to pass further ill-thought-out legislation. In short, it would entrench all the negative characteristics that the party so desperately needs to change if I am to ever consider it electable.

The other reason that I would like to see the UBP win is that I have never seen a UBP government. It's possible that once in power they will prove to be just as venal and incompetent as the PLP. However, I'd like to find out for myself.

That's why I hope that tomorrow Bermudians will vote for change.

The protest vote

There has been a great deal of speculation about what the turnout will be in tomorrow's election.

If you are apathetic about the choices offered by both political parties, by all means stay at home and don't vote. It's a legitimate form of protest, and will be noted in the turnout figures.

If, however, you are angry about the state of local politics, and don't feel that you can vote for any of the candidates, I think a better option is to go to the polling station and deliberately spoil your ballot. It's a much more emphatic demonstration of your disenchantment with what's happening in Bermuda and thus, I hope, more likely that the politicians will respond to it.

Broken promises: Coda

I was surprised to read Education Minister Randy Horton's comment on the PLP's ability to keep its promises in today's Royal Gazette:

"Not all promises that we make are able to be realised; if that was the case we would be a perfect government. Certainly, in some cases, we haven't realised them."

By admitting that his party has not and cannot always keep its promises, Mr. Horton's comment will inevitably lead thoughtful Bermudians to wonder which of the pledges in the PLP's latest manifesto will go undelivered too.

To retain their credibility, the PLP would do better to only promise things that they are sure they can deliver.

Broken promises #5: Air arrivals

In a speech in January 2005, Tourism Minister Ewart Brown promised to “increase air arrivals to 400,000 over the next 3 years”.

In 2004, air arrivals stood at 271,600. In 2005, they fell slightly to 269,600. In 2006 they increased to 299,000.

In the first quarter of 2007, there were 45,825 air arrivals. In the second quarter, there were 99,594, and in the third quarter, 97,875. That's a total of 243,294 in the first nine months of the year, up 2.8% on 2006. In the absence of figures for the rest of this year, a crude extrapolation suggests that the final number of air arrivals for 2007 will be just over 300,000.

At a town hall meeting in St. George's in November 2006, I asked the Premier about his pledge to raise air arrivals to 400,000 by the end of 2007: whether he was still committed to that target, and whether he thought it was still achievable. He responded with an emphatic "yes" to both questions. “But I’m prepared to take the hit if it’s 399,995,” he joked.

Unfortunately, it's clear that the total number of air arrivals for this year will fall well short of that.

(UPDATED at 12.50pm on Monday to include figures for the third quarter of 2007 that were published in today's Royal Gazette.)

Other posts in the "Broken Promises" series:

  1. Increased bus service
  2. Corruption law reform
  3. Public access to information
  4. Club Med
Suggestions for other broken promises can be emailed to me at the usual address.

Caption Competition: Election Special winners

It's time to find out who got the most votes in this week's caption competition.

Leaders
Photo courtesy of The Royal Gazette

The winners were:

First: Christian - Brown milk.

Second: JJ - Microsoft's amazing new photo shop software can make even the most unbelievable pictures look real!

Third: swingig - PLP purchases Dunkley's Dairy; promises free milk for all!

Honourable mentions

Cicero - Dunkley: Wow! Is that a cedar beam or are you just happy to see me?

BrowndunleySpudOnion

AlienUncle Elvis

Disagree? Nominate your own winners in the comments.

PLP's FutureCare to be paid for by tax increase

The PLP have revealed how they're going to pay for their proposal to improve health care for seniors:

"During the working lives of Bermudians (20 to 64), employers and individuals will make contributions to the fund. The fund will be used to cover the health care needs of all Bermudians age 65 and up."

So, in essence, it's a tax increase.

Now all we need to know is how big it will be.

» 21 Square writes "Limey in Bermuda has picked up on the PLP's intentions to fund their Future care health care improvements for seniors plan by creating a new tax. How would the scheme work? What about the future? Who's going to pay for..."

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