‘War of Words’ in the RG

I’m not very suprised at the RG’s dedicating quite a bit of space to the potential issue of a leadership challenge in the PLP Annual Delegates Conference (ADC). As I noted earlier this speculation has become relativley routine in the media during the Party’s ADCs. Most Party members and supporters traditionally read the RG with the proverbial grain of salt, while swing voters and political hobbyists (yes, I’ll include myslef in that I guess) will read them with much interest, while anti-PLPers will generally look at these reports with much relish and predict the imminent self-destruction of the PLP.

I’ve read through the article by Mr. Julian Hall and the accompanying article that includes statements by Mr. Alex Scott and Mr. Philip Perenchief, as well as the editorial in todays paper.

While I accept that it is important to recognise when an argument may be the result of ‘axes to grind’ as Mr. Hall alludes to Mr. Scott and Mr. Perenchief, or from potential conflicts of interest as Messrs Scott and Perenchief point out about Mr. Hall (and admitted to, to his credit, by Mr. Hall in his article), I personally am more interested in the arguments presented than anything else. I will keep the idea of axes to grind and personal conflict of interest in mind, but these should not in themselves detract from the arguments themselves. Its not easy to do, but I will continue to attempt it all the same.

I think Mr. Perenchief presents some valid criticism of Mr. Brown’s leadership style that is a problem and as far as I’m concerned is creating some friction within the Party. This largely boils down to what the editorial terms ‘imperial premiership’ and what I liken to ‘presidentialism.’ This is translated practically into a sense that Dr. Brown does have a tendency to be very much a ‘photo-op’ personality and very much in appearence attached to the superficial and tacky trappings of power (his ‘entourage,’ his chaeffur, his wining and dining, his private jet travels, hobknobbing with the rich and famous, etc.). In many ways it appears to sections of the Party that the whole struggle of the progressive labour movement boils down to achieving a state of affairs where a Black can be incredibly wealthy and demonstrate all the trappings of such power, right down to golfing at Mid-Ocean. For those who have dedicated their lives to fighting against racism and the oligarchy, this is not, I think, what many had in mind. There is also a sense that Dr. Brown has centralised decision making, both in the Party and within Cabinet/Government.

Now, none of the above may actually be true. I tend to believe through my own experiences, along with others, that quite a lot of this criticism has a good deal of substance to it. As readily admitted, my perception of what progressive labour should stand for (basically democratic socialism along with a committment to correcting the racial injustices of the past) and what I percieve Dr. Brown’s perception of progressive labour to be (basically Third Way New Labour – a la Clinton and Blair – but with a committment to making Bermuda’s class demographics more representative of our racial demographics) are quite different.

This goes right down to our conception of the Party itself. I tend to view it more as a vehicle to strengthen grassroots direct democracy and popular particiaption leading towards the selfgovernance of the territory and economy by the people, while I percieve Dr. Brown to view the Party more as an electoral vehicle in the modern liberal democratic sense with which to achieve state power and ‘represent’ the people. As such I encourage wide discussion of the direction of the Party and policies ennacted by it as Government along with constructive criticism, strengthening grassroots and serving as a ‘school’ for popular power. This is in contrast to a centralised machine where people must stay ‘on-message’ and where the components of the Party are there to execute decisions from above. The differences are much more complex, to be sure, but the above gives a decent summary I think.

But what is important of Mr. Perenchief’s argument is that I think it is shared by increasing numbers within the Party. They may not be at a critical point, and they may indeed be being artificially inflated by media and the Opposition, or they may be being artificially minimised by those connected to the Leadership with whose interests it is to do so. Its hard to guage the actual level of discontent, thats about as conclusive one can get. But I don’t think it is possible to dismiss these criticisms out of hand – it would be far better to address.

And to that, I find myself in agreement with Mr. Hall. I personally don’t see a leadership challenge during this ADC. As I wrote in ‘Et tu, Brute?’ I think it is important to maintain some leadership continuity for the moment, and I do believe that Dr. Brown is the best leader of the Party at the moment (enhanced by the failure of possible rivals to step up to the wicket I might add), and he has the potential to be an even better and ‘transformational’ leader as Mr. Hall states. But in order to do this I think it is important for Dr. Brown to note that there is some valid criticism of his leadership, and rather than ignore it away as ‘axes to grind’ or ‘sulking’ or as an insignificant minority, he should start addressing it. I think that Mr. Hall’s advice, that Dr. Brown has some ‘splaining’ to do is quite honest and practical. A return to greater grassroots particaption and interaction will go a long way to reducing much of the existing friction within the Party.

Will Dr. Brown take this advice? Will he adapt it in a cynical way and use it to strengthen the ‘top-down’ approach of politics through micro-management (this is perhaps not the appropriate term, I’m trying to say something along the lines of sweet-talking away criticism at the grassroots level)? I can’t really say. But I think I can safely say that if he doesn’t take this advice by Mr. Hall then friction will grow within the Party (especially with the vacuumn left by the irrelevant UBP), and he will be effectively ‘given the boot.’

On a separate note I also have to side with Mr. Perenchief’s interpretation of the Party Constitution in opposition to Mr. Hall’s. The ADC is the supreme sovereign body of the Party. It can adapt its agenda as it wishes by democratic vote, and it can adopt any resolution from the floor should it so choose, and such decisions are binding on the Party. These can be appealed by subsequent ‘Special Delegates Conferences’ and in the ratification of the ADC held shortly after the ADC proper. Furthermore, a Special Delegates Conference can be held at any time should three branches call for one, and a SDC is no different from the ADC except not being regularly scheduled. Any ‘DC’ is the supreme sovereign body of the Party, be it Special or Annual.

The only other note in regards to these articles is that I am wholly in agreement with the closing bit by Mr. Hall:

The dirty PLP secret, as far as I am concerned, is that the delegate selection process is about as democratic and as transparent as the machinations of the College of Cardinals in the Vatican.

This is a severe problem, and one could even argue that as a result all decisions made by ADC’s of late are illegitimate as a result of a flawed and broken delegate selection process. This of course would include the election of Dr. Brown to Party Leader in 2006.

I also think its important to reinforce the comment by Mr. Perenchief that the Premier can very well be ‘transformational’ but for ‘all the wrong reasons.’ Thoughts to ponder at least.

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18 thoughts on “‘War of Words’ in the RG

  1. Dr. Brown appears to have governed the same way since he has been the leader. So it begs the question why didn’t Perenchief speak out when he was in Dr. Brown’s cabinet when his critique would have meant something. Or is it a coincidence that Dr. Brown’s behaviour became unacceptable to Perechief the exact same moment that he was booted out of cabinet? If he had been kept on, would he have spoken out? probably not.

  2. As noted, while it is important to keep in mind what personal biases one may have, it is necessary to also deal with the valid criticisms being put forth, even if the person may be using these valid criticisms for personal reasons.

  3. Jonathan,
    Your post is indeed thought-provoking, just as Julian Hall’s column in the RG today. I will say though that you are incorrect on some items in your post.
    1. According to the PLP’s Constitution, “The Chairman of the Party shall summon a Special Delegates Conference upon request of:
    1.(i) Any tweleve (12) branches (not 3)
    2. If “all decisions made by the ADC’s of late are illegitimate”, then all decisions made by the ADC are illegitimate, not just those of late. I don’t know how many ADC’s you have attended, but I have attended each one that has been held since at least 1970, and the process has remained the same. To suggest that the election of Dr. Brown was illegitimate is going from the sublime to the ridiculous.
    I don’t know how many times Mr. Hall has been involved in the delegate selection process, the process is as democratic as it can get. You and I both know that some branches in the Party are extremely active, while others are almost dormant and that the only time there is some activity in the dormant branches is where there is an election for the Party executive.
    As far as the “discontent” within the Party that only some seem to know about, I would suggest that you read my opinion in the Bermuda Sun last Friday. There has never been and never will be complete satisfaction with any leader, whether it be the PLP, the UBP, the BIU, the BPSU, or any other organisation. However, I do believe that the majority of Party members are contented with Dr. Brown.
    Phil Perinchief should be reminded that in 1998 he ran against the Party as an independent so for him to say he has more interest in the Party than Dr. Brown is ridiculous!!

  4. Yeah, really Laverne. Two old ex radicals from the 60’s trying to get hold of what they thought was theirs. Times change and even old buddies from the BBC have differances.

    As for Julian, ” I havent’s worked for a decade, stuck in merry ole England blah blah blah”.

    The pie is cooked Laverne, lets see the distribution, whats left, and who’s ordering the crucial goods to make the next one.

    Your a joke and a disgrace to your heritage. Plus you lie a lot and won’t admit it just tinker around other subjects and spin. Guess you have a Maytag Dryer.

  5. “Yeah, really Laverne. Two old ex radicals from the 60’s trying to get hold of what they thought was theirs. Times change and even old buddies from the BBC have differances.

    As for Julian, ” I havent’s worked for a decade, stuck in merry ole England blah blah blah”.

    The pie is cooked Laverne, lets see the distribution, whats left, and who’s ordering the crucial goods to make the next one.”

    Jonathan, you wonder why more PLP supporters don’t blog. The above is just one example of the venom that spews from most posters here and elsewhere. Is that racism, or just plain old nastiness?

    Your a joke and a disgrace to your heritage. Plus you lie a lot and won’t admit it just tinker around other subjects and spin. Guess you have a Maytag Dryer.

  6. Come on Laverne. You can take critisism right? What’s PLP blogers have to do with it? Your spinning again, diverting the accusations away from you. Why waste your time spinning when you could be ‘knitting’ and ‘sowing’ the seeds and fabric of love.

    Then again I guess thats what they pay you for. Did you get some monies from Julian after the settlement? That poor old lady. Plus, all the monies he gets from BIU/Government for services.

    Hell Ottie knows more than this nice little boy.

    Putin and Slovadan, wow.

  7. boo hoo… so the mistress of hate and her mutant son have hurt feelings… let’s see if I have a hanky….

    nobody in Bda spews venom like you girlfriend..

    if you can’t take the heat,get outa the kitchen and get over it

  8. Yeah Jonathan, there’s a real interesting debate going on at Catch A Fire. You spend all that time composing an intelligent blog, then the hate brigade comes out and doesn’t even read what you write, all the wait for is LaVerne to post so that they can get rid of their pent up anger because the PLP and Dr.Brown is still in power. They’re such nasties. But they have the right to their opinion, dont’ they? We have freedom of speech in Bermuda don’t we. Thank god we got rid of the rope nooses because these people on this blog either want to tar and feather me or lynch me. Read what I wrote and then read their responses. But that’s freedom of speech isn’t it. That’s why Kim Swan is the Opposition Leader (for now anyway) and Dr. Brown is the Premier. Who would those kind of people in charge of this country ever again in life?

  9. It always comes back to the racist PLP scaremongering rhetoric that the evil, white boogeyman wants to lynch, burn, rape, shackle and tar and feather the black population, doesn’t it? No, you and your son aren’t racist scum at all………

  10. there is no evil, white boogeyman – just evil, white men. we see you everyday.

    That says more about you than it does about the rest of the world.

  11. “there is no evil, white boogeyman – just evil, white men. we see you everyday.”

    And, there you have it, straight from Vance Chapman’s lips, ladies and gents……

  12. Hi LaVerne,

    To be honest I’ve come to expect it, the general descent away from rational and constructive debate. It doesn’t surprise me. But it doesn’t totally bother me either. There are always going to be so many people who for whatever reason are not interested in exploring and expanding the discourse, but rather to derail and distract. But even amongst all of this there remains the potential for truly uplifting and thought-provoking discourse that can benefit our people as a whole. The trick quite frankly is to not get distracted by the chaff but to focus on the wheat, even if there is a heck of a lot more chaff than wheat at times.

    We are all human, and we are all prey to the frailities that in large measure define us as human, that is we are prone to taking things personally, to reacting to things instead of sitting back and carefully reflecting. This is very much true in the emotionally charged arena of politics in Bermuda which combines altogether in one the dynamics of race, class, gender, spirituality (religious or other), friendships and kinships, all even more heated by the smallness of our population.

    Not one of us are exempt for some of the downward spirals that occur on this, and other forum, both virtual and real. You are right in many of your positions, and your reactions to the reactions to you are often understandable. Likewise with those that react to you. In many ways this illustrates the chasm between the two worlds of Bermuda, the Black and the White – and even this is further fractured by class, gender and nationality. Sometimes people are more interested in scoring points and avenging past perceived slights than working together to further constructive discourse.

    It is not my interest to appease all people. That old adage of who tries to please everyone pleases no-one continues to prove its worth. I find much of the diatribe that occurs in these fora as interesting social experiments, and often try not to intervene other than to encourage constructive debate through engagement and ignore destructive debate as best I can, resorting only to intervention when I feel it has gone to far into the realm of personal attacks and libel or otherwise obscene language.

    While I continue to expect more from my fellows, regardless of their political position, I am increasingly resigned to expecting more chaff than grain. I have found it to be an unavoidable reality. But there is still grain, and I hope to encourage and reap greater harvests of this grain with each post. Perhaps it is hopeless idealism in that respect, but where would one be without such optimism? Hardly any of the incredible social progress our species has attained throughout history, or, more particularly, the struggle for social justice and democracy in Bermuda to date would have been attained otherwise.

    Anyway, such are some of my thoughts on the matter.

  13. In a literal sense, well said Mr. Johnny.
    Now please address the racist remarks by Sir. whatever and the loies of Laverne that she continually avoids. Is she married too Julian Hall?

  14. Ms. Furbert – correcting the hystrionics. It’s not that people want to tar and feather you. People feel the need to challenge your blatant distortions. Your portraying that as a racist response is just your way of trying to shut them up.

  15. I have been reading this blog for awhile. I just want to say I truly appreciate John Starling’s understanding on why many people here in Bermuda truly don’t like Dr. Brown. Not for the color of his skin, as some will always believe, but rather for his bad choices that can cause a negative spiral effect in Bermuda. You see, being such a small place/population here in Bermuda, the balance is very delicate. A tiny change in the system can cause a negative trickle down effect.
    Examples being dump truck small businesses, overthrown of the New York office, closure of medical clinic, closure of St. George’s police station, trying to build a hospital on the Botanical Gardens, not paying the police officers and teachers, trying to rename buildings that already have names, using taxpayers money to travel lavishly, closing St. George’s golf course when you told the people that spent over $100,000 dollars on renovations that it would stay open, not cutting back on expenses a year ago when every one said the economy may get bad. These are the reasons that many people in Bermuda do not like Dr. Brown being the premier. His bad choices.

  16. Dr.Brown is a good manager entertainer and great politican but heartlessly greedy and lacks middle management skills. I believe he cannot pass a hard drug test. He seems so desperate at times. Workers are too weak to challenge him his cabinet ministers are useless. A weak gene pool is the problem he will be Premeir for years.

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