Reflections on the Premiers Speech to the Party Banquet – Nov. 3rd, 2007

Well, I didn’t go to the banquet the other night due to prior committments, however the Royal Gazette has published a transcript of the Premiers’ speech on their website, and the transcript can also be found on the official PLP website. Both links for these follow below.

http://www.theroyalgazette.com/siftology.royalgazette/Article/article.jsp?articleId=7d7b24630030001&sectionId=70

http://plp.bm/node/851

So, I’ve just read through the transcript, and I thought it was worth posting my thoughts on some of the issues brought up in it.

a) I think the Premier gave a satisfactory rebuff to many of the allegations and his reaction to them, such as the claims of cedar beams. I am separating here unsubstantiated allegations from those of potential greater substance such as the BHC issue. Around the workplace, in the pubs, often online, I come across what amounts to a whispering campaign of all sorts of rumours and allegations, many apparently originating from anomynous sources. It may well be that some of these allegations have a grain of truth, or that the originators have good reason to hide their identity. Many, if not all, however are of a nature that is almost impossible for someone to refute; sort of like the infamous witch trials – the more you try to deny the allegations the more you appear guilty, or the allegations are of a nature that no proof exists either to prove or disprove them.

For allegations like this it is best to simply ignore them, but even through this ones credibility is effected through a sustained smear campaign. There really is little one can do to respond to them (for instance one cannot really take an anomynous entity to court for slander) other than appeal to the critical reasoning faculties of the citizenry concerning the nature of the allegations and the anomynity of their originators.

b) I continue to disagree with the stance concerning the BHC files. I agree that the investigation was completed some five years ago, and that the results at most were accusations of ‘unethical but not illegal’ behaviour. I continue to maintain though that any files/investigations concerning holders of public office and potential abuse of public monies and power should be made available to the public on completion of the investigation. I continue to call for the reform for freedom of information, and see the defence of the media gag order and so forth in the name of protecting confidential police files a red herring and have not been convinced otherwise to date. My position on the whole BHC files have been stated elsewhere, and I have not changed from this position; if Party members did act unethically as alleged in the investigations, and if these allegations can be substantiated, then the Party should sanction such Party members appropriately.

c) I agree with the dismissal of the UBPs argument for a Royal Commission to re-investigate the BHC issue. I never did understand the UBPs position on this, it seemed to be a cheap shot for oppurtunistic political gain. The investigation has already been conducted adequately by competent investigators. What needs done is action on reviewing the claims by the then DPP that existing legislation needs rewritten, Freedom of Information legislation needs drawn up and enacted, and the Party needs to review the nature of the allegations to determine whether Party members need to be sanctioned.

d) I agree with the sentiments expressed that the UBP does not have the moral authority to accuse the PLP of corruption and the like until the UBP itself deals with the many skeletons in its closet. I do not think this is the same thing as saying ‘well, the UBP did it too…’ rather I see it as a call against hypocrisy and underlines the need for full freedom of information and investigations of past potential conflicts of interest, such as the issue of TBI mentioned in the speech, as well as allegations such as concerning the National Sports Stadium under the UBP. This is not to say the PLP should not be called on possible corruption, but that if the UBP is going to do so it must acknowledge its own questionable past at the same time.

e) I think it was unneccessary to lable Harold Darrel as a ‘demented deviant.’ I do question the political motives behind his actions, but ‘shooting the messenger’ is usually not the best policy as I see it.

f) I think the Premier is correct when he spoke of the UBPs position on race. I will admit that the language and style of the PLP or PLPers sometimes is counter-productive, but I do believe the PLP is and has genuinely made a sincere effort to bringing about racial reconciliation. Race is a very emotional issue, but it is one that we need to discuss and not sweep under the carpet. I find the UBPs position on race to be akin to an ostrich sticking its head in the sand, and I have written concerning this tendency elsewhere on this blog. The UBP preaches colour blindness, and apes the reactionary comments of much of its support base in viewing the discussion of race as divisive, that affirmative reaction equals reverse discrimination and so on. Colour blindness, a colour blind society, is and remains the ideal of most Bermudians. But it is not the current reality; we live in a society that desires colour blindness but not in a society that is colour blind. There are a lot of issues that continue to haunt us from our past (the correlation of class and race for example) and the general dynamic of white superiority/black inferiority that continues to haunt our world, however more subtle racism has become, even to the point of subconscious and unconsciousness as opposed to the overt conscious racism of times past. We still have a lot of work to do before achieving racial reconciliation and the colour blind society, and the UBP approach of colour blindness now equate with affirming the status quo of systemic institutional and cultural racism.

g) I think the Premier presented a pretty fair catalogue of what can be viewed as a media bias against the PLP, but I can see how others will argue that the media will naturally focus more on the Party in power than the Opposition Party.

h) I do think the Premier is correct when he says that the UBP has a rather superficial approach to race in its own public presentation of itself as a Party that represents Bermuda’s demographics. It is true that its Parliamentary candidates largely correlate with Bermuda’s racial breakdown, but the consistent fact (based on polls and actual UBP membership) shows that this ‘public face’ is quite different, if not the reverse, of the UBP’s actual racial composition. Its not hard from here to view the UBP as cynically exploiting race and engaging in deception as opposed to the PLP.

i) I was disappointed but not suprised by the invocation of religion in the speech. This largely dominated the last quarter or so of the speech. While Dr. Brown may very well be sincere in his beliefs, I remain of the opinion that religion and politics should be kept separate, and just like Mr. Dunkley’s bringing up religion in regards to the elections proximity to Christmas, it is hard not to be cynical and interpret this as an oppurtunistic attempt for the Church vote.

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18 thoughts on “Reflections on the Premiers Speech to the Party Banquet – Nov. 3rd, 2007

  1. I’m sure you could expand on the dialectic between subjective and objective reality?

    It all reminds me of a good football match. One is always subjectively biased towards ones own team, ignore their errors, believe the ref is unfairly picking on your team, etc.

    Also, there are a number of charges there (TBI, etc.) that can be researched. It is not good enough to simply dismiss these things in sweeping statements portraying the PLP as paranoid.

  2. I’m afraid that simple financial and statistical measures overwhelmingly suggest that the PLP is not providing effective government.

    The PLP’s use of statistics and creation of boogeymen continually reminded of the dishonest and destructive tactics of the Bush administration and American Republicans… but this is so much worse. To announce that the campaign will be dirty and imply that negative data about performance are UBP lies and a UBP conspiracy, and then immediately begin name-calling and attacking. It’s inexcusable and disgraceful.

    As for race, remember that the UBP is completely representative racially. It’s simply not an issue within the UBP – the PLP on the other hand…

    Do you really think Dr. Brown is a Christian man? Really? Or do you think he’s an intellectually dishonest chameleon who will do/say anything to maintain his power?

  3. And I’m sure one can find equivalent statistics to indicate past UBP governments didn’t operate as an effective governmnet at times as well. Both governments could have been better, and I don’t expect any future governments to be great either without a massive social change in regards to politics here.

    I do wonder what mystical bogeymean you refer to, and will also point out that subjective interpretations of statistics are exploited by all sides of the political divide and the best thing we should all be doing is encouraging the development of critical reasoning amongst the citizenry as a whole to take all such announcements with a good dose of salt.

    I have written about the UBP and race above in point (f); you are right, race is not an issue with the UBP, and that is exactly the problem, they ignore the elephant in the room and pretend everything is fine when quite frankly its not.

    Its not my position to comment on Dr. Brown’s religious faith. I don’t care about that; its not my business. I’m interested in the issues and not personal attacks like the one you posit above. I think ones religion has no business being involved in politicking, and have said so above.

    Are you saying by the way that only Christians are of good moreal fibre? Are immune from being intellectually dishonest and so forth? I hope this is not the case…

  4. No, again – we’re dealing with relative performance. In absolute terms it’s likely that neither is particularly highly performing.

    What I’m really referring to is the introduction of truthiness to the Bermudian political process, where objective reality as understood by experts in the field (be it education, finance, long-line fishing, etc.) is ignored for what the political wing wishes the reality to be. This is absolutely the downfall of any organization – and the history of leadership is replete with examples.

  5. And I’m atheist. I just don’t like intellectual dishonesty and liars who claim to be something that they are not in order to profit in power… like a “Christian” who uses their religion only when convenient.

  6. Hey Onion,
    Well, I’m atheist as well, so its nice to meet another; I think we can work together on some common goals in that area re secularism in Bermuda.

    Again however I have to say that if you are going to hold the candle of ‘truthiness’ or ‘trustworthiness’ to the PLP you must also hold it up to the UBP. I’m not saying that because the UBP did xyz its okay for the PLP to do xyz, but its not okay to ignore the abuses of one Party and highlight the abuses of the other. That is hypocritical.

    The same goes with the UBP or Dunkley re using religion only when its convenient. Read for example the post ‘Reason for the Season,’ and keep a check on the words of UBPists and I expect you to hold them to check when they also exploit religion for oppurtunistic political reasons.

  7. allegations such as concerning the National Sports Stadium under the UBP.

    JS – Can you please be more specific regarding these purported allegations regarding the National Sports Stadium while the UBP was the government?

  8. Hi 32n64w!

    I do not know enough about the situation re the National Sports Stadium to comment definitively, which is why I branded it as allegations. Since the early 1990s I heard comments concerning alleged corruption on the part of the UBP in this area; I also heard the same about the Incinerator project. I would stress that I was not a member of the PLP at this time, and the people from whom I heard these comments were either long-time ex-pats or part of the traditional UBP supporters (they admit to me freely as being pro-UBP, even then), who had a definite distaste for corruption regardless of the source and did not let their pro-UBPness silence their tongues, at least in private dinner conversations.

    The allegations concerning the Stadium are multiple and I will do my best to recall the main ones. To begin with I heard something concerning a Canadian architect and design team that put forward a proposal and everything was going well until out of the blue they were sent home and the contract awarded to a UBP connected firm. I have also heard that production costs were artificially inflated and money earmarked for the construction of the stadium was expropriated elsewhere. I stress that I do not have facts to back this up, that it is hearsay. I will hunt down the people I know spoke of this and get more of the full story, it was something I’ve been meaning to research for a long time anyway. anyoone with more information or knowledge about the topic, please, I look forward to whatever information you may have.

    Corruption by either Party should be opposed. There are enough stories about UBP corruption that I find it hard to dismiss some of them; as may well be the case with the PLP also.

  9. JS – I can confirm (having personally known many of the parties involved with the National Sports Centre project) that those allegations are entirely unsubstantiated, salacious and completely without merit. If there was even a kernel of truth the PLP would have been the first to investigate before contributing further funding to this lengthy project (regardless of how comparatively modest these amounts have been when considering the donations to football & cricket).

    If anything the current government attempted to intervene on a number of occasions trying to force the NSC powers that be to hire certain local contractors … instead of giving them the flexibility to act as their own general contractor and thereby save us (the taxpayer) as much as possible in order to get everything built within a reasonable budget.

    The government repeatedly rebuffed the NSC’s requests for funding (I believe) because they weren’t in direct / indirect control of where the funds were going to be spent / directed. This project has been limping along in recent years (the most important / revenue generating part being the “centre core” which has yet to be built) because of this reluctance (in my opinion) to relinquish $$ control.

    Lastly it’s important to note that the NSC decided years ago to ensure that this project, once completed, would be self perpetuating and not need ongoing government financial assistance / grants to keep running so I don’t understand how they (the PLP government) continue to “throw” money at other problems in Bermuda and yet have no problem leaving this project stalled when there are so many reasons to finish it asap.

  10. Just because I think the current PLP leadership is wholy intellectually dishonest, incompetent, and dangerous doesn’t mean I don’t have strong words for some members of the UBP. However, after seeing the effect of the exact same kind of non-Christian fundamentalism mixed with idealogical policy absent of a reliance on real expertise and objective performance measures on the policy of the United States (read: The Iraq War, Tax Cuts) I simply have to speak out against Ewart Brown and those who support him at every opportunity… and Dunkley is actually a man who lives by Christian principles, which we can all support even if we don’t have the belief. Ewart Brown and the PLP leadership are as far as I can reasonably see corrupt and thieves, as if they were not then A) the BHC dossier wouldn’t be damning, and B) they could have sue the press for libel and won many months ago, since they didn’t the only conclusion is that they are guilty of very un-Christian things (much like their Republican counterparts in the United States).

  11. 32n64w,
    I will get the info from the people shortly and seek to hear your comments on it. Just curious though on something, and I think you can answer it for me. I know that under the UBP a heck of a lot of money was invested in building the NSC, at least $20 million over the 1980s, yet all I recall ever being completed under the UBP was the main football stadium and the Eastern seats. Surely that price doesn’t add up to the work done? I’m sure that this discrepancy is the origin of many ‘rumours’ of corruption surrounding this topic?

  12. DeOnion,
    It is not my place to judge whether Dunkley or Brown is more Christian than the other. It is a non-argument and irrelevant.

    The UBP and its proxies are doing a marvelous job portraying the PLP as some sort of neo-conservative movement akin to the Bush Republicans, and I see you appear to have joined this argument thrust. I find it quite ridiculous to be frank. I would ask you to review the history of the UBP governments and compare them objectively to the PLP governments. I think you will find that alot of which you criticise the PLP for wuld equally apply to the UBP. At best both Parties are equally bad in their performances.

  13. I believe that the party is not being portrayed as neo-conservative movement, but that the tactics are. Those are two different things. If the shoe fits.

  14. As “the truth” said, I am comparing the tactics of the PLP in terms of ideological decision-making, and a commitment to making their reality more important than the truth.

    This is not some bizarre UBP conspiracy – I lived in the United States from 2000 to 2004 and I saw the way the American Republicans hijacked the truth to pursue their own goals. I am now seeing exactly the same kind of tactics from the PLP, and expect it to have the same outcomes for Bermuda as it did for United States (and I think we can all agree that that’s bad).

    The problem I have is with the fundamentally dishonest marketing misleading voters, which when combined with policy making that fails to truly understand problems and use objective feedback and experts then we have the potential for a real disaster… thus far the PLP record has been far more one of inaction rather than incompetent action.

  15. Oh, and about your last comment – PLEASE be cynical. It’s the only way for the public to come out ahead when facing a charming sociopath (this goes for politicians, salesmen, preachers, etc.)

  16. I know that under the UBP a heck of a lot of money was invested in building the NSC, at least $20 million over the 1980s.

    Not sure if those figures are entirely accurate.

  17. Sounds like I have a research project! 🙂

    I wish the media would investigate these things though. I really think they have more time than I do. But I’ll give it a shot. Perhaps people will be more willing to answer questions from a Commie than from a Reporter. 😉

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