Posted by: Ms Morris | July 13, 2009

What the people want

So I’ve just returned from a short trip overseas and am catching up with the blog. Really liking the conversation on the new party. Keeping in mind that one of the aims of Bermuda JEWEL is to be a platform for action as well as discussion, I’ve created this post to generate some useful information for anyone interested in creating a new political party.

Nioe asked some really good questions that I feel should be answered. So I invite bloggers to answer these questions and facilitate the dialogue on what they would like to see from a new political party.

1. What is wrong with the present parties?

2. What do the present parties do right?

3. What changes need to be made within the system?

4. What needs to stay the same?

5. What do you want from your political parties?

6. How much say do you want in the governance of Bermuda?

7. What are methods that parties can use to get the opinion of as many Bermudians as possible?


  1. 1. The current problems suggest that one party, the UBP can’t be trusted, and won’t be trusted, and are forever connected to their inglorious past, while the government party is struggling to find it’s true identity, and are having real power problems.

    2) Not a lot. The UBP is outdated and needs to go away… permanently. The PLP need to re-establish themselves with a leadership they can trust.

    3) A NEW opposition is needed. Not a rehashed old version. There needs to be an INDEPENDANT body that will keep the constitution in check. It is obvious that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Right now… the government will not work with the Governor, so we need to have something that will keep the Government from running amok.

    4) One man one vote. The electoral system MUST remain the same.

    5) Accountability. If they are not held accountable for their actions, they will do as they please.

    6) I want my government to represent me to the best of their ability. Constitutional matters should be decided by the people… NOT by the government. People should take a more active role in the process of government. Not just showing up on election day.

    7) Re-establish the parish councils. Hold monthly meetings and have the MP report to the council for issues relating to them. Have the MP make direct reports to the house on the wishes of the parish.

  2. 1) Business based, or people with experience of managing large budgets.

    2) Must already be financially comfortable.

    3) A racial mix.

    4) More women. Time for the ‘boys club’ to go,

    On a practical note – happy to provide service(s) to any group that genuinly believes they have something to offer ALL, and can also show that it has the tenacity to stay the course once the process has begun.

    Being SoB – that’s the best I can offer.

  3. 1. The current parties embody a political slant that is a bit out of step with the world we find ourselves in today. Obama’s “online” campaign showed, in some ways, how effectively a campaign (and possibly a government) could be run when inviting the People to grasp ownership of their government. Obviously the racial connotations of either parties history is a huge hurdle for them to overcome. The UBP is, to my view, ineffective at best. PLP, I still think have some great qualities and have released some lovely programs but have failed to hit the mark on most things. The glimmers of great processes are there, but hidden under insider rigamarole, scoring points against the now defunct UBP (which is a bit like a 30 year old getting into an argument with a five year old and then gloating that you bested them intellectually… um, right, you still just had an argument with a kid, you do realize that, right) and too much focus on themselves to the detriment of the Bermuda.

    2. Firstly, much as is said about UBP, they do have a much more racially varied group of people with, for the most part, great business acumen. I find that PLP, up until very recently, has much more of a focus on those less fortunate and really good ideas. Unfortunately their implemetations or follow through is what tends to hold them back.

    3. I haven’t read the Constitution in any great detail but I do think the Westminster system is much better suited to larger countries as compared to what is effectively a small town. So I think having a look at revamping our very political system might be a good idea. Make the laws be LAW and not allowing judges to legislate from the bench. Put more effort into soldifying our relationship with England and treating this like a partnership and stop focusing on the “colonial” aspects of the relationship. Face it, we are a colony but in today’s world, subsidiaries of companies can be just as important and stand next to the parent cpompany. It benefits both.

    4. Lots has been done over the years that can remain. The point isto refine and proceed past great ideas into actual implemetation (and not half-assed implentation like we have in many cases right now).

    5. I want parties that listen to me, lowly me.I want ot feel like what I have to say matters to those I chose to put my faith in, or not if I didn’t vote for me, treat me like an non-entity. I want my parties to act like adults, both in and out of the House. To offer respect to each other because simply, that is what they should do. Stop acting like this is some game they are playing.

    6. & 7. I think I kinda answered these above.

  4. 1. The two parties have a history that cannot be erased and some members of each party cannot let go of the past. This leads to a”hate” for the opposing party and that is not healthy for anyone.
    The UBP has some good people, however, there is a history of being a”white” party. The PLP also has some good people, however, with a history of being a “black” party. None of these is healthy in this century with a multi-racial community. These labels will not change no matter how we would like them to.
    2. The PLP has done a lot of good and if over the last 10 years they had kept the black/white issue out of the picture they could have been a great government. I think their downfall is the constant hate for white people which is so obvious. it may only be a few that feel this way, however, they are the one’s that everyone hear’s. The last election could have been won without this type of rhetoric. It stuns me that they want white people to join the PLP yet spend so much time showing how much they don’t like them.
    The UBP has a good mix of people of all races, however, they have been a very poor opposition.
    They seem to care about all the people of the Island rather than one group.
    3&4 I definately think our constitution needs to change to allow for a “no confidence” against an individual leader and not the whole Government.
    5. I want a political party that represents all of Bermuda. A party that is held accountable to the electorate. A party that leads by example and not do as I say not as I do. A party that never brings up the color of one’s skin in any discussion.
    A party that has the country as the priorty in all of it’s decisions. A party that works as a team where the MP’s are not afraid of getting sacked by their leader for disagreeing with them. A party that as Government will be all inclusive and maybe even choose an opposition member to carry a portfolio if they are the better person for the country.
    Putting country before party is very important.
    6. I have always trusted the Government until this last couple of years. When the people that are put in place to oversee and keep the checks and balances are deemed to be lying by the Government we ahve problems. maybe we may need a couple of Auditor Generals keep everything in line.
    I do not think every move needs to have the people’s input, however, the MP’s that represent us must be involved in major decisions.
    7. Good question. Maybe send e-mails with a survey to house holds to get a least one person’s opinion in each household.

  5. 1) Sparxx I will concede that the UBP is a weak opposition as oppositions go however your comment that they “can’t be trusted” is I think more political than this whole issue should be about. Whatever one believes we have to accept that there are arguments on both sides, just as you may claim the UBP is untrustworthy someone else may claim the same of the PLP. But, that is not the point. The point is that our system or our parties or our attitude or whatever it is isn’t working for Bermuda. The PLP in recent days has not been a beacon of bringing the races together and openness but, in the same tune the UBP has not been successful in keeping them in check and why is this? I’d have to say that it is because it carries with it a lot of racial baggage. It shouldn’t, and I stress the word shouldn’t, mattter what they were in the past because now they are indeed a mixed party who seems to aim to work towards the betterment of Bermuda however the unfortunate reality is that in the eyes of many the UBP is the “White Party” and I’ve heard it said many times that a black Bermudian won’t vote for it because of those reasons. This works backwards too, the PLP can’t be seen as the “Black Party” working for blacks and only blacks, which it has seem to drift towards in recent days in the eyes of many white Bermudians. That is what is wrong with the present parties, the involvement in racism in politics.

    2) The present parties are comprised of many intelligent people, however I think that it is not the party that can be praised for the actions of these people. All that the parties seem to be good at is playing to the wishes of their slice of the electorate and not the whole of Bermuda.

    3) Above all of the calls for the abolition of the Westminster System and Parties etc. I think that the change begins with racism. Bermuda politics boils down to race however you look at it, White vs. Black is how it turns out to be. I’m trying to stay out of criticizing either party but I apologize if I end up politicizing this as I am trying to avoid doing. It is this racism that needs to change first and foremost because there can never be a party that represents ALL of Bermuda when it can simply be called the UBP with a new face (which a new party would probably be labeled as much as they would try to avoid it.)

    4) I think that I have to agree with Sparxx here, One person, One vote.

    5) I want them to work for a united Bermuda, not a divided one and to actually follow the wishes of the people. Enough of the partisan politics and hiding behind one’s party, it’s time that the people’s voice is heard more than once at election time.

    6) Enough to be able to recall an MP at the very least. A tiered system beginning with Parish Councils would be even better.

    7) Actually listen. Bermudians are opinionated people. If they would listen and not dismiss things as racist or biased every time then they might learn something.

  6. Nioe: As long as the UBP exists the PLP will tout the “a vote for the UBP is a vote for the past” (slavery), and that really doesn’t matter who is in the UBP in today’s world. This is the PLP drum and they will continue to beat it until they are forced to change. That change must happen with the end of the UBP.

    If the UBP really wanted what was in the best interest of the country they would see this and go away. They can preach about unity, inclusion and a better representation of the people, but at the end of the day, that preaching does not translate into votes at the polls. The connection to the past is simply too great and it allows the PLP to continue to not have to carry the “beacon of bringing the races together”.

    The UBP are a weak opposition, and as such are ineffective and resort to “hit and hope” tactics that are doomed to failure. The recent “no confidence” motion was a “hit and hope” trying to take advantage of the under-current of unrest with the leadership of the PLP. If they expected people to cross the floor and support such a motion, they were sadly mistaken. To top it off they couldn’t even keep their own house aligned. For an opposition with little clout, they didn’t need to lose face, and they did. The PLP may not like the leadership, but they would NOT let the UBP bring that down. If they do so, it will be at their own hands (which is increasingly evident as each hour passes).

    Is it a racist issue? Yes. How can it not be a racist issue? How can we level the playing field? Remove the obstacle that makes it a problem. The PLP will HAVE to change their stance once a credible and viable opposition takes over. An opposition that has NO connection to the current UBP.

    We can not head into the next election with the UBP as the opposition. If we want to break down the racial barriers that keep us back, we must remove the weakest links. There is no other way. The PLP don’t have to change their attitude, because realistically we don’t have any other choice.

  7. Sparxx I do agree with you that the UBP is a completely ineffective opposition that is too heavily burdened with the past to ever really be effective. However my point is that it is not the UBP that needs to go away, it is both parties that need to go away. The PLP seems stuck in the past just as much as the UBP, recent times show that very clearly I think. There was never any lynch mob and Walter Roban should never have responded to a voter that way whatever her color. The PLP use the past to gain support, the PLP rail off against the UBP and even against any white people who speak up. Who is it that is stuck in the past? Stuck in the times of racially divided politics? Which party has both a parliamentarian group and a slice of the electorate that most represent the breakdown of Bermuda’s population? It’s the UBP.

    In my eyes this is about fairness, the UBP is slammed again and again by everyone for being a weak opposition and yeah, it is a weak opposition but, why? It is because the PLP propaganda machine can spew out racial and divisive rhetoric which divides the races and PLP voters lap it up. The ones that don’t are criticized (e.g. Janice Battersbee).

    As for the vote of confidence, the PLP would have been free to keep Dr. Brown as their leader if he was removed as Premier. Their constitution doesn’t specify that the Premier must be the leader of the party. The PLP leadership is purely a party matter and no one else should be interfering, I agree. However the leadership of our country is a whole different story. Ewart Brown is untouchable inside his party bastion, that is becoming clear. Partisan politics defeated the motion of no confidence at, party politics are defeating the Bermudian people. Dissatisfaction is at a high with Dr. Brown and yet he remains leader, does this reflect very well on the PLP?

    The PLP are not excused for their actions because what they do works. That is a pathetic excuse to hide the fact that they are playing off the problems in Bermudian society for their own benefit. The PLP is tarnished with the present, the UBP is tarnished with the past, they cannot be polished and presented again as a new deal. The PLP has alienated the white community, and they’ve done it very well. The UBP has failed at removing the stigma of voting for the UBP within the black community. The parties are founded upon race, and divided by race. The PLP can’t govern for the whole of Bermuda because they have begun to create within the white community the feelings that the black community feel towards the UBP. The only difference is that whites are the minority on this island.

    Both parties need to disband for Bermuda to be able to move forward.

  8. “Dissatisfaction is at a high with Dr. Brown and yet he remains leader, does this reflect very well on the PLP?”


    I believe this is the critical point. The PLP, between Friday and last night, had the opportunity to put some daylight between what the Party stands for and its current leadership. Instead of drawing that line, they’ve made it clear that there is no such thing as being pro-PLP but against the current administration.

    This is a gauntlet thrown at the feet of the MPs that made powerful statements against the Premier in recent days, and more generally, at the feet of the electorate; it will be quite interesting to see the response, or the lack of one.

  9. 1. Perception. Whether it is reality or not, it is all about perception. The UBP is perceievd to be a party rooted in its racist past and are nothing but a bunch of “neo fascists” that want to put black Bermudians “back on the plantation.”

    The PLP has been known as a black party that was founded upon righteous principles during the perilous times of the civil rights era. Unfortunately they have are now far removed from the original Party mantra and are looking to reverse these wrogs ny punishing their offspring and offspring’s offspring. When you have a leader of a Party who calls one of their ministers the “Minister of White People” then you know you have a problem. When you have a Party’s Central Committee support a leader who makes such statements then you know we have a SERIOUS problem.

    2. The UBP tries hard to be an effective opposition but it appears the RG is more effective in playing that role. The calls for the UBP to be disbanded without any opposition at all is just crazy. Only then would you be able to label as a banana republic. No oppoistion = no hindrances. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    The PLP are successful in dividing the country amongst racial lines to garner votes and support from the majority with no worries about future consequences, while alllowing one man take control of the whole Govt.

    They both know how to embarass BDA on the international stage with their petty law suits, grievances and constant calls for apologies.

    3. The need for the people to pick their leader should be a change.

    Constitutional reform allowing the leadership be contested through a no confidence vote and not the Party itself.

    Using race as politricking divide and conquer tool should be prohibited. I remember I think after the 2003 election thaty the UBP put forward such a motion. Unsurprisingly it was shot down immediately by the PLP.

    One man one vote works for me.

    4. Nothing needs to stay the same. The whole process, including the Parties need to be reformed, from the inside out. Anti-corruption legislation is desperately needed as well as a comprehensive Freedom of Information Act. Yeah, I read that it would be coming soon. Actually I have read that same old story for almost 6 years now.

    5. Honesty, integrity, openness, accessibility. Just plain and simple good governance for ALL of teh electorate, not just the individuals that you know or feel might have voted for you.

    6. I don’t want a say on every piece of legislatin or action that comes across a politicians desk. However, I do want to be informed on these issues and how me and mine will be affected by it.

    Amendments on Constituional matters should always be referred to the people via a referendum perhaps.

    7. Through the daily as it reaches the majority of Bermudians. Hell even Dr. Brown reads it as i saw him the other morning in GP1 with an RG. But we all know that won’t happen. Electronic means might be difficult as not all households or individuals have access to such amenities.

  10. As per 7. Jmad, I disagree. Well over 50% of the populas have internet. 100% have access to a News Paper and only 3% converse on daily issues if they have not been on line or read a paper.

    Communication starts with verbals and as can be seen there is a horendous lack of that.

  11. Fair enough. But the problem with democracy and politics in general are that the people are either too busy, not motivated or simply not politically inclined or interested in the politics of their ouw country.

    The current message will simply be disregarded and interpreted due to the perception thing i mentioned in point 1, either as a white supremacy thing (i.e. UBP message) or i hate all white people thing (i.e. PLP message).

    So does it really matter about the message. Bermudians feel that the source of the message is much more important then what is exactly being said or alleged.

    Another reason for a third party.

  12. What I want is simple: An even handed government that holds itself fully accountable.

    Last nights inability to take any action once again proves once again that our MPs are looking after their own interests, not Bermuda’s. In it’s wake we are another two Ministers down and we are replacing then with people the were already “replaced”.

    A new party will get us nowhere slowly. Our attentions should be focused on reform of the current parties. not reinventing the wheel.

    Can any one tell me specifically who this new party will be made up of? Who are these fresh faces? Where have they been? Why are they not involved not involved in the current fight?

    If you think the perception is the problem with the current party options, as soon as you populate a third party with members from either of the existing parties the perceived baggage comes with them.

    Tips in an earlier post talked about this, if you don’t like what the PLP or the UBP are doing, join and effect change.

  13. Sorry, joining the UBP is doing nothing and joining the PLP doesn’t give you anything. You can not fix something that is well beyond repair (the UBP) and the PLP will always look out for number 1 first and foremost. Nothing will change the public’s view of the UBP and no one really wants them around anyway. As for the PLP, they are winning be default. No challenge is akin to telling them that they can do whatever the hell they want… which is EXACTLY what is happening. A third party is the ONLY answer. A SERIOUS opposition to provide a serious challenge to the status quo. As for who will lead it, all that matters is that someone will. There are more than enough people who want it and will make it happen.

    I’ll take a chance with the unknown over what we have left today. Remember, not so long ago the PLP was left for dead and it didn’t take long for them to get their act together.

  14. 1. What is wrong with the present parties?

    – The people are not being put first
    – Not enough focus on social problems
    – History, one can’t get away from its past and the other is too focused on the past
    – Too reactionary not proactive
    – Neither party consults the people

    2. What do the present parties do right?

    – The PLP has a better structure in people do have a say UBP is too secretive.
    – The UBP is more welcoming to all Bermudians

    3. What changes need to be made within the system?

    – More transparency,
    – Parish councils to be revitalised
    – Referendums for constitutional changes.

    4. What needs to stay the same?

    I think the economic side of Bermuda life is fine. IB and such.

    5. What do you want from your political parties?

    – Good governance
    – A committment to all Bermudians
    – A greater focus on social problems and more programs
    – More movement on environmental/ecological issues

    6. How much say do you want in the governance of Bermuda?

    I want a large say in the governance of Bermuda and I want my voice to be heard and opinion respected. Even if what I say cannot come to pass an explanation as to why my views are incorrect or are not possible so I feel I have been heard.

    7. What are methods that parties can use to get the opinion of as many Bermudians as possible?

    – Greater utilization of technology
    – Parish councils
    – Post

  15. “A new party will get us nowhere slowly.”

    I disagree, I do not think the UBP can shake its past and truth be told its present isn’t that great either. The PLP infrastructure is actually pretty democratic which I do like. If you want a position you have to be voted in. I would think it very difficult for anyone to infiltrate the party at this point and exact meaningful change. There are many positions that would need to be filled and then you’d be the new guy fighting against people who have beeen there for years. In essence we’d still be stuck with business as usual and the PLP would have your $50.

    A new party won’t have the past baggage and presumably a fresh outlook. I’m much more comfortable with the idea of giving a new party a chance then attempting to bring the UBP back or trying to get the PLP to change. To me both appear as lost causes.

  16. The key is making sure that the new party is representative of the people and not a splinter group from either the PLP or the UBP. It’s time that we move away from the status quo and effect true CHANGE (thanks Obama). Our people have been held hostage long enough.

  17. The Parish Councils are desperately needed. MP’s need to know that they can not forget those who voted for them. Give the people the power. If you are not doing the job, we should have the choice to fire you.

  18. Sorry Sparxx but it took the PLP 25 years to gain power. I would say Bermuda doesn’t have that long. Ah but you say the new party won’t take that long. Why? Because Bermuda is ready for change. Hmm that sounds very similar to the reason the PLP was originally formed and still took them over two decades to get their act together.

    In two of the most established democracies in the world, The USA and The UK, the democrats and the conservatives respectively, had lost two consecutive elections. Did the parties suddenly disband and start a fresh, NO, they worked on what was wrong and gained considerable ground. In fact the democrats came back so strong that they now are back in power with a leader that has started to change the world. In the UK the conservatives are now set up to win the next general election by a land slide.

    I don’t agree that everyone has given up on the UBP or the PLP, I believe that people have lost faith in the figure heads of both parties. There is no real distinction between the actual polices of the two parties just its leadership. If either party had individuals or a single individual that people could believe in CHANGE would happen. Obama is indeed case in point here.

    Finally if there are people to populate this new party that represent the people, where are you? Waiting for a new party? How long are you prepared to wait? Why are you not getting of the bench now? You don’t like the current structure of the other parties, then change them from with in. Don’t wait for what you perceive to be the perfect conditions. Yes it will be difficult but surely Bermuda is worth it……

  19. The UBP will not get elected because they aren’t playing the same game as the PLP. The PLP has defined the rules, and because the UBP can’t or won’t contradict the PLP, they’re dead in the water.

    It wouldn’t matter if Gandhi, MLK, Jesus, and Obama all showed up to run for the UBP, they wouldn’t get in anywhere but safe seats, and possibly a marginal or two.

  20. Two out of four ain’t bad Ren Man………

  21. technically that is incorrect. Sir John Swan tried to finish the PLP after it’s split in the early 80’s and by the mid 90’s everyone knew the UBP were finished. It was only a matter of 15 years MAX.

    As for how long we have, believe me, we have to take as long as we have to, to get it done. They say that you are only as strong as your competition, it’s time for the PLP government to feel real competition.

  22. The UBP won’t get elected because they’re time has expired. I, as a white person have no inclination of ever wasting my vote on that party ever again.

    Comment edited.

  23. Sparxx, I have to agree with the futility of joining either party. A new party just might pull it off, with a narrow majority over the PLP and the UBP annihilated.

    The PLP, having lost access to the public trough which has become their reason for being, will implode in internal bickering and recriminations, much like the UBP did 10 years ago.

    The trick is that a new party will, in its inexperince, have a terrible time trying to unravel the web of entrenched corruption that has become the hallmark of our government over the last 5 years. The voters, being fickle and expecting results, will quickly lose interest. Their second election will probably see the emergence of many independents, new single issue protest parties, etc. with a fragmented next government that may bring governmental paralysis. Still paralysis, like the UBP’s benign neglect of old, is way better than the destructive mismanagement, race baiting and public looting that we have now.

    The good news (and this would make it all worth it), is that if the new party/government can avoid using race as a political tool completely Bermudians, being sensible people at heart, will muddle through and solve the problem themselves. Black and White, we’re all pretty sick of it and we want to move on – it’s just that no one allows us to be heard above the deliberate noise.

    As for a new government – Westminster is fine, but I want to be able to recall MP’s, more referenda on all key conscience-type isues, and TERM LIMITS!

    We can’t keep on like we are – the clock and the money are running out.

  24. The UBP is finished…. I have seen who bankrolls them behind the sences. Old White men with plenty of cash to spend on getting their favorite party back in power… for that reason alone they are finished…they can put whatever new face on the party they like… the backers are always the same.

  25. It seems that for the most part we all agree on the need for a new party.

    So we arrive again at the same questions. Who, How, Where and When?

    Political reforms aren’t going to come from the PLP or UBP. It would be up to this new party, whatever it is to reform the system and give Bermuda the government it needs, wants and deserves.

  26. Interesting points all round. Nioe, they are indeed the important questions. Ones I fear that wont be answered for some time; But if they are and they are a viable option for Bermuda, short and long term, I can’t wait to learn more.

  27. the westminster system experiment in bermuda has failed…50 yrs of poor governance has more than proven this statement

    nothing short of moving out of the westminster system is required…while still staying tied to the uk until bermudians have matured to go indipendent

    ban all political parties and run this place like the small town that it is…creation of a parish council system….individuals voted in …one from each parish….they form the governing council which takes its direction from the people and gives orders to the civil servents to fulfill.

    full voters rights legislation will be in place …with power to recall any member of the council….al council members will have their bank accounts acessable to prevent any theft or illegal enrichment while in office

    this is the only way to unite all bermudians as one people

    the formation of a bottom up democratic system that includes all via referendums on national issues.

    anything else is just a sham and a joke

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