Perhaps predictably pro-UBPers have seized on the section of Dr. Brown’s speech to the Party Banquet where he used the metaphor of ‘mixing up a box of colour crayons’ as the PLP exploiting race for political gain. I disagree. In fact, from where I sit I believe the very opposite is the case, and that the comment by Dr. Brown was one of calling a spade a spade – it is the UBP that is exploiting race for cynical and oppurtunistic political gain.
I wrote briefly on this in ‘point (f)’ of my critique of the Banquet speech. I’m going to expand on it here because I think it is a very important and frequently misunderstood issue.
The UBP claims that it as a Party is racially representative of Bermuda’s racial demographics and does so by pointing at the racial make-up of its parliamentary candidates. It is true that the racial composition of these candidates does indeed more truly represent Bermuda’s racial make-up, especially when placed against the PLPs candidates, of which out of 36 there are only two that would generally be regarded as White.
However, the UBPs claims end there; like beauty its only skin deep, and is essentially a rather simple superficial claim.
While neither Party (to my knowledge) keeps racial statistics of its members (I can speak factually for the PLP, and recall a quote from the UBP in the RG in the last two years at least to this effect), one can make some generalisations through an analysis of a few different observations.
In general you can say that the PLP is roughly 90% Black in its members composition; the UBP roughly 85% White in its members composition.
Evidence comes from:
a) Polls indicating support for the two Parties broken down along racial lines indicates that almost 98% of Whites that vote vote UBP. Almost 75% of Blacks that vote vote PLP. I’m not sure of the exact statistics by the way, I’m going from memory, but I’ll look it up and post any corrections here. Having said that I don’t think many will disagree with this statement. It is also important to acknowledge that ‘support’ and ‘Party member’ are two different things, but there is a definite correlation between them.
b) Photographic evidence of both Parties events, be they town-hall meetings, Central Committee meetings (believe it or not the UBP has one, and there does exist video footage of its members arriving, for example during the ousting of Mr. Furbert earlier this year), or rallies (the Main Event, etc.). These tend to confirm the general trends of the poll breakdowns.
c) Personal experience in discussions with members of different races have tended to correlate and confirm the trend suggested by the above two observations.
This of course is not scientific, but it is certainly indicative.
So, the situation we have here is a White dominated Party (at the very least numerically) with a parliamentary candidate line-up that is the reverse of its actual membership composition. This indicates that the UBP have made a political decision to consciously misrepresent their actual reality – by having a severe discrepancy between membership and candidates on a racial basis – for the purpose of political gain.
This of course calls into question the UBPs denunciation of the PLPs proposed Workforce Equity Legislation (which the UBP has deliberately misrepresented to the public anyway) where they say that Blacks will question whether they have earned their position by merit or by virtue of melanin. Cannot the same be said of the UBPs parliamentary candidates? I am sure that the vast majority of the UBP candidates are indeed of great merit, but one has to wonder how a majority White Party somehow has a majority Black parliamentary candidate line-up. The two just don’t really add up unless you factor in the possibility of cynical exploitation of race for political gain.
One is also reminded of the current UBP Deputy Leader who earlier this year (I beleive in reference to PLP fundraising initiatives) stated that ‘he who pays the piper also calls the tune.’ I don’t have access to the UBPs financial records, who paid what and what race they were, but a general review of Bermuda’s economic class breakdown in correlation to race indicates that the Upper Class here is overwhelmingly White. One can assume that the main financial backers of the UBP are also White, that the UBP is not only a numerically White majority Party but also a finicially White Party. If the UBP Deputy Leader truly believes her statements on Party funding, how does this square with the UBPs?
The UBP as a Party is not racially representative of Bermuda. Its parliamentary candidates may well be, but that is merely superficial. This fact alone indicates that the UBP is both ‘playing the race card’ for political gain, and also quite hypocritical in its statements on race as a whole.
Calling the UBP on this is not ‘playing the race card’ as some argue; it is merely calling a spade a spade and arguing against hypocrisy. Thats all.