For some time now I have been meaning to write a more thorough review of the 2007 Election Campaign as this issue has been continuously re-discussed and demonstrates some rather clear differences in perception along Party lines/supporters. I still haven’t had time to really get into it in-depth, but as the issue has re-ermerged in the threa ‘Vampires & Werewolves’ I thought I might as well give it its own thread for discussion.
There have been a few relatively recent articles in various media that have tended to discuss this issue as well, and they are well worth reviewing as starting points for this discussion.
I believe that the article by PLP Chairman David Burt in the Bermuda Sun recently can offer some insight into his perception of the election campaign, but one must realise that such was not the intention of his article and read it in that light.
Also, there is an editorial from PLP Senator Walton Brown on Bda Network News.
I am sure there have been other articles, including ones from the UBP side, but I am not sure of their links at the moment, nor their content. Readers may feel free to recommend and provide links to articles that they think relevant.
In the immediate run-up to the election and in its aftermath I did offer some thoughts on the topic in various threads and other online discussions. My position has not fundamentally changed. In many ways I am in broad agreement with the sentiments articulated by Senator Walton Brown in his article.
I will primarily speak of the PLP election campaign, it should be noted. I do this, not to set Senator Brown against Chairman Burt, or to ‘pick on’ the PLP, but mainly because I think that discussion is much more important to the long-term benefit of the Party, especially due to me conclusion that at this moment in time the UBP is an irrelevant political factor. It may over time regain its relevance, but its hard to see that happening at the moment to be frank, and I don’t think I’m alone in percieving them as consigned to the dustbin of history at this present stage of Bermudian development. The main interest for me is not so much in the UBP’s campaign, but in the perception by many of its supporters of the PLPs campaign, and what this means for going forward as one people. As to the different opinions on the PLP campaign presented by Senator Brown and Chairman Burt, I think it is immensely valuable to the Party to engage in critical discussion of that campaign, something that their respective positions offer, to their credit, to Party members and supporters.
Briefly then, I found certain aspects of the PLP campaign to be unneccessary and counter-productive to the objectives of the election, and that the Party won more in spite of these variosu tactics than because of them. In particular I found the infamous ‘Puppet’ video to be a piece of trash campaigning that was beneath the dignity of the Party. I understood the sentiment, but really think it could have been illustrated in a better way, especially one that didn’t leave the Party open to a similar attack. All tactics should be viewed as double-edged swords, weapons that can be used both against an opponent and against the initiator. To me it is better to bring the election campaign and the electorate up through rational and critical discourse of the respective platforms and participants rather than mutually drag it down through trashy negative campaigning. It is true that at certain times it is necessary to respond to negative campaigns. Generally I feel the rule of thumb, to borrow from recent US presidential debate terminology, should be to not throw the first punch but to throw the last. To me this means not responding in kind but essentially giving the opponent a rope to hang themselves with and demonstrating the falseness of such negative attacks. One other aspect of the PLP campaign that I disagreed with was the misrepresentation of the UBP’s position on crime and law. It is true that I found many aspects of the UBP’s platform on this area troubling, and criticised them on this site accordingly, but I found the PLP ads attacking it to be effectively one of scare-mongering and distorting of the UBPs position.
This is not to absolve the UBP of blame. Personally I found their campaign to be much more negative, even desperate, than the PLP’s. I know many of the UBP supporters will strongly disagree with me on this one, something not unfamiliar to the phenomena in football where one generally ‘doesn’t see’ the fouls committed by ones own team but exagerrates those of the opponents. One thing I must concede to the UBP though is their greater sophistication in using ‘proxies’ – that is employing propaganda attacks against the PLP that is almost impossible to trace back directly to the UBP themselves. Notable examples of this would be the numerous anomynous letters to the editor that followed the general narrative of ‘I am a PLP supporter, BUT… and so this time I’ll vote UBP,’ and the Bermudians Against Independence group that ran a whole series of misleading and scare-mongering attack ads, nominally against Bermudian independence (which was not an election issue at all). Their infamous ‘fish cartoon’ and that video featuring many of their Black candidates in a park were just truly pathetic and the acme of stupidity as well.
Ultimately I feel that these tactics led to a mutual ‘dumbing down’ of the election. If our Party (the PLP) had a better platform then we should have had no trouble debating and trashing the UBP platform. That we didn’t, in general, engage in such discourse does not mean that our platform was not the best one, it just means we didn’t engage in it, which was unfortunate.
I know many of the UBPers took umbrage to such quotes as ‘back to the plantation’ but I really had no problem with that. They actually provided an opportunity to engage in a discussion of the race issue and should have been explored, not attacked. As much as the UBPers accuse the PLP of launching a ‘race-based campaign’ I actually found the UBP to have done very much the same, but using codewords of White fears (crime, independence) rather than the more obvious at times approach of the PLP.
Anyway, thats all the time I have right now. I expect some itneresting discussion on this issue.