Below are some notes I drafted in in the weeks after the 2007 election, as an analysis of the PLP’s decade of power.
At the time I was a member of the PLP, and involved with the youth wing and on the Central Committee.
A Decade of Power
When considering the outcomes in socio-economic terms that the past decade has seen, and the cost, in terms of widespread popular passivity and cynicism, along with growing skepticism and renewed resistance, I see no strong reasons to alter my perceptions of the new PLP hegemony.
The two elections since the 1998 victory have seen little of the passion for change that swept the PLP to victory.
Bermudian democracy, as seen in the passive 2003 and 2007 elections, has failed to deepen the movement for human liberation. Rather, we have seen our democracy become a ‘disillusioned’ democracy, not unlike those seen elsewhere.
To a degree, then, the 1998 election saw the ‘normalisation’ of our democracy in terms of liberal conceptions of democracy, but it also saw a betrayal of the desire for popular democracy.
The Political Landscape
Although the continued existence of the relic UBP still retards the development of new, critical, oppositional voices, in spite of this new voices are beginning to be heard.
The rich in Bermuda continue to get richer and the poor continue to get poorer. It is clear that the PLP is pushing a neo-liberal capitalist agenda, co-opting Black wannabes into the charmed circles of the ruling elite.
A decade of PLP hegemony has enabled some Black Bermudians to profit immeasurably while simultaneously failing to alter the economic structure that disempowers the majority of the population.
This in itself is not surprising in retrospect (or even before) in that the dominant faction of the PLP was – and continues – to be a Black middle-class, along with an aristocracy of labour bureaucrats. Their political aspirations were, and are, limited to the first stage of revolution, of expanded liberal democracy, and not substantial radical change.
Despite the PLP’s decade of failure, there remains many workers who still believe in the PLP as both their liberator and guarantor of a better life now and in the future.
What are the prospects? One would predict an increasing demoralisation of the PLP base with the continued PLP failure to meet their aspirations of a progressive and labour party. While the UBP remains moribund it leaves the PLP subject to a slow decline, where the UBP may benefit (if it does not decay further and instead maintains its current, albeit limited, support) more by default than active victory.
That is, the PLP risks a passive decline and sleepwalking away from power. At what rate this will be realised is hard to answer, being subject to multiple external and internal factors.
What does seem clear now though is that the probability of radical change from within the PLP is unlikely without a significant event. And even then it would depend on the balance of forces and the rate of ideological decay within the party to determine whether such an event would really lead to anything beyond a cosmetic change.
Despite the internal euphoria from the recent election result, the decline is evident and, all things remaining equal, terminal, even if the tempo is unclear.
It is increasingly unlikely that the radical resurgence can be initiated from within. The options remaining then are continue within on a doomed path, forge a new direction outside (with the hope of articulating and inspiring change within from outside) or opting out altogether.