More Thoughts on the UBP Platform – Part Two

Housing

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.

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5 thoughts on “More Thoughts on the UBP Platform – Part Two

  1. Why is it inappropriate for the UBP to adopt ideas from the SDDSP? It was a government document, created with public input…Just cuz the PLP abandoned it doesn’t mean others should as well.

  2. Hi S,

    I actually didn’t say that it was inappropriate, I said I found it odd. I found it potentially intellectually dishonest as well (they could have framed it something like ‘based on the findings of the SDDSP we believe that x, y and zed needs done, etc.’). Thats all.

    I also wrote in agreement with you that it was a government document created with public input. I differ in your estimation that the PLP abandoned it; the town hall discussions of last year were only the third of I believe five stages (1=Total rough draft and methodology drawn up; 2=Consult stakeholders; 3=Public townhall consultations of the general public; 4=Polishing up of plan based on steps 2 & 3; 5=Implementation and constant reevaluation). I was not however involved in the SDDSP itself, but do know that it continues to meet and progress. Just because its not in the public spotlight right now doesn’t mean it has been abandoned, although it may not be recieving top priority at the moment.

  3. “One bit that did suprise me was the UBPs departure from its traditional laissez faire market oriented ideology.”

    Yeah this surprised me too. It does seem all to odd now that in Bermuda the party that once stood for so-called progressive policies is now mired in a reactionary ideology while the former conservative party has turned to what I would consider pretty populist politics. Though this is not to say that populism is good, as I have always thought it was the policy of attempting to please to many people at once in an attempt to garner as many votes as possible. As the IWW always says “the employed class, and the employing class have nothing in common.” My father rescently likened the UBP platform to being something what he called a Santa Claus platform in that it attempts to satisfy the poor working class and both the petite and haut bourgeoise. This is the ultimate reason why the proposed UBP platform would fail to achieve all its lofty objectives.

    The PLP on the other hand does seem to be drifting more and more towards a laissez-faire style of liberalism, as much as it is covered right now in a reactionary guise. Anyway if the PLP wins (which I am fully expecting to happen) only time will tell how Brown will alter our society, if he is left in charge of the party, and whether or not popular action will need to be undertaken to remove an entrenched autocracy from power.

  4. “…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.”

    Far from a fact. The UBP did a lot, and you ignore the impact of the rapid expansion of IB from the Sept 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina, both which occurred long after the UBP were given the boot and they UBP could not have anticipated in the 90s.

    The PLP’s failures in housing are their own, not the UBPs.

  5. Dear ‘The Truth,’

    I would like to hear more about what exactly the UBP did when in power to address what it acknowledges was in 1998 a ‘serious concern.’

    While I only turned 18 in the summer of 1998 and became more or less actively involved in politics in Bda at that time I did try to keep up with the general discourse even before that date. I really do not recall hearing anything by the UBP during its reign of power addressing the housing crisis.

    Perhaps I am mistaken, in which case perhaps you could elabourate.

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