On reviewing the UBP Platform section ‘Building Housing: Ending the Crisis’ (p.8-11) I got an uncanny sensation of deja vu. At first I couldn’t place my finger on why, and I doubt the average casual voter would either; but it was really bugging me so I took to rummaging through my assorted pack-ratesque collection of various policy papers and other documents. What I came up with was the Sustainable Development Draft Strategy Plan (SDDSP).
Much of the UBPs proposals come across as quite sensible and reasonable here, and they also bear an uncanny resemblance to the reccomendations put forward in the SDDSP. I won’t go so far as to say they consciously copied from the plan, but I do believe that it was a key source of inspiration for this particular plank of their platform, and I have a lurking suspicion that if I were to really compare the two documents I’ll find other similarities between the two.
Now this in itself isn’t a problem; if anything it shows the value of the SDDSP and the methodology by which it was created. It relied on a relatively grassroots approach, synthesising the wealth of community knowledge and technical expertise readily available within our population, while also keeping an open mind to developments and ideas from other parts of the world that could be applicable to the benefit of Bermuda. Yes, it was a PLP initiated project, but the product itself was made for and by Bermudians as a whole. But I do find it a bit odd, and perhaps intellectually dishonest, that the UBP would apparently mine the SDDSP for its own election platform.
Much of the UBPs proposals here seem to me to be already being implemented by the PLP, or are also part of the PLPs platform. Either way there is not much radically different from my readings, and there is little to quibble over.
I do however take issue with the nature of this attack:
“Housing issues are not new, but the failure of the PLP government to address the comprehensive housing needs of Bdians has pushed what was a serious concern in 1998 into a full-blown crisis in 2007.”
While I think most, including PLPers, will agree in hindsight that more should have been done in th enine years of PLP governance, it is a fact that the PLP has done more to deal with the hosuing crisis than the UBP ever did while it was in power. The UBP largely neglected the housing crisis during their time in power, and I sincerely believe that their inaction then directly contributed to the cumulative crisis we have to deal with today. It kind of reminds me of Shakespeares Hamlet to be honest. Hamlet had three oppurtunities to kill Claudius. The first oppurtunity would have been the best, with the least ramifications, but he neglected to deal with it then. The second time would have had some ramifications, but would still not have been as bad, arguably, as the ramifications that did result from the third attempt, with the deaths of most major characters. Had the UBP acted when it was in power they could have potentially nipped the problem in the bud. They didn’t. The PLP sort of acted on the second chance, and there have been problems, but not as much as if they had carried on business as usual as was the UBPs approach. The PLP has done a reasonable, but not great, job to date in dealing with the hosuing crisis, but there is every indication that the hard work of the last few years is almost ready for harvest (Loughlands, et al are nearing completion).
Personally, I feel that the days of most Bdians living in a suburban style home is at an end, and that the future will see increased movement towards urbanisation in the form of apartment buildings and condiminium complexes. I think that Singapores model of High Density Buildings complete with community centres, which I am relatively familiar with and partial to. I think this would free up land for open sapce and create a somewhat more community based, cosmopolitan urban society. I am not advocating increased building over our land, but using our land more efficiently in order to create on the one hand more dense residential areas off-balanced by increased free space and recreational areas.
One bit that did suprise me was the UBPs departure from its traditional laissez faire market oriented ideology. This ideology has often been represented most consistently (and admittedly extremely) by former UBP candidate (and presumably current member) Robert Stewart who brings a liberterian capitalist perspective (in the tradition of von Hayek and Friedmann) to Bdian discourse. He was indeed one of the most consistent and fierce critics of the SDDSP and by extension the PLP. It will be interesting to hear if he voices criticism of his own Party now for this apparent about turn.