I had hoped to take some time off to focus on my studies, as noted in my below post ‘Running Silent’. I hadn’t envisaged any major news story provoking me to break my plans, although the Sri Lanka cricket attack last week almost caught me out. And I missed noting International Womens Day, online at least.

But then I read the paper today and couldn’t help read over the farce that is the Male Athlete of the Year award, concerning Mr. Roy Burch being denied his award due to his speaking freely a year ago. Instead the award went to Mr. James Stout.

To be blunt this whole thing is a farce and its compounded by the incompetent manner in which it has been handled by the Cabinet and the unsportsmanlike behaviour of Mr. Stout, to date at least.

These sporting awards are supposed to mark sporting achievement and not political ideology whatsoever. That Mr. Burch was nominated by the award by a committee charged with doing so should have been all there was too it. Legally, sure, Cabinet has the right to step in here. Morally they have no right, except in the occassion that the chosen recipient is found to have some sordid criminal past that may have ruled out this honour. Quite frankly that does not seem to be the case here, he seems to have been quite clearly penalised for his public criticism of the Cabinet. This is discriminatory and quite frankly I think he may even have a legal case here for discrimination and contravention of the Constitution. Criticism of the Party should be handled with counter-arguments, not bumbling bureaucratic thuggery.

Particularly disappointing is the handling of the issue by the Cabinet, with contradictory statements that only seek to reinforce the impression that Mr. Burch was penalised. A total farce of damage control here. This is not saying at all that the Cabinet was right in its actions, just that they’ve compounded an already avoidable and unnecessary situation.

Mr. James Stout should not escape criticism in this affair either. I have complete faith in his skills in racquetball, but I am led to question his integrity as a sportsman. Its possible that he had no knowledge that he was recieving the reward as a result of a political snub to Mr. Burch. I doubt he can say so now, nor take any honour in the award which is little more than an albatross around his neck today. If Mr. Stout claims to be a sportsman he is honour bound to publicly surrender the award. There is no honour in keeping it now.

The nominating committee, well, they are not at fault, but this action by Cabinet renders their existence irrelevant. They should publicly resign from the immediately, and anyone joining it after this farce will be looked at as fools unless Cabinet makes amends for their idiocy.

Mr. Blakeney himself should question his integrity today. The Ministry of the Environment and Sports certainly doesn’t need more leadership changes, but nor does the Party and the people of Bermuda need leaders who are willing to compromise their integrity. I had a lot of respect for Mr. Blakeney, I’ve always had a good relationship with him. This incident however has left me deeply saddened. The rest of the Cabinet of course bears collective responsibility for this farce, both in creating it and in compounding it.

In 1998 we voted for change. As time goes by it increasingly seems that we got change, but a merely superficial one. There is very little that the PLP as government has done in its decade of power that the UBP would not have done. The constituency redrawing is about the greatest claim to fame, and legitimately so, of the PLP in power. The most important victory of 1998 was the psychological one, it is no longer the case that the PLP can be regarded as not able to form a government. They have done so, and proven that they can govern as well as the UBP. And there is the problem. I didn’t vote PLP in 1998 and 2007 (I spoiled my ballot in 2003 out of disillusion) to have a PLP that was ‘as good’ as the UBP. I voted for a government that I hoped would be better than the UBP.

I haven’t seen it yet.

I still support the PLP as opposed to the UBP, and I beleive that the PLP has a better approach to race relations (in the long term) than the UBP has. But it is getting harder and harder to support some of the actions of the PLP government, and its difficult to ignore the very real sense that the Government is not afraid to exact punishment along the lines of the old UBP.

It was a crude election slogan some time ago, that voting for the ‘New UBP’ would be like voting for ‘Massa’ just with a sunburn. How ironic that today this would describe the PLP after a decade in power.

I should stress that the vast majority of Party members are genuine good people who honestly want a better life for all in Bermuda. But certain members of the Party have so corrupted the good honour of the Party that in the name of progressive labour we build a grotesque caricuture of our not so distant past.

The UBP is dead even if its corpse still lumbers about from time to time with impotent gestures of opposition. It is important then to send a message to the Party seeing as the official opposition is a pathetic ghost:

There is discontent with you, with us. It will get worse with the economic depression. Catch yourselves and start bringing about the change we voted for. If you do not, then there is the potential for events to get out of control and become messy, and no one wants to see that happen. Start fixing our problems, or someone else will. Stop making easily avoidable mistakes, or they will come to haunt you. We see it now in Afghanistan, and we should avoid chickens coming home to roost here as a result.


25 thoughts on “Reprehensible

  1. Jonny,

    Excellent post. I think you’ve captured my sentiments as well. Intervention in this matter by Cabinet is deplorable and an affront to the Bermudian people, who deserve to be treated better than this by the ‘people’s government’. I sense an increasing sense of disillusionment amongst those would-be PLP supporters and individuals who voted for change in 1998. This is NOT the change we voted for and political thuggery and government interference seems to have reached a new low. We deserve better than this.

  2. Jonny,

    Well said mate. I can’t but help but notice how the fabric and fundamentals of our so called “democracy” are being eroded due to the insecurity, in light of any criticism, of the current administration. Note I stated the current Brown administration and not the PLP as a whole.

    But with individuals such as Ms. Furbert always trying to out opposing voices in an attempt to silence them, Minister Burgess trying to ‘rile up the young people’ of Bermuda against the criticism of Mr. Adrian Robson, Mr. Chapman trying to silence Mr. Dunleavy by sending letters to his employer making baseless accusations about his character, the Canadian contractor who was booted out of the island for publicly disagreeing with the PLP, the arrest of Mr. Dennis for his role in the BHC scandal and Dr. Brown’s attempt to “gag the media” in 2007 along with the axing of all Government ads for the RG, I have to ask does this act really come at a surprise to anyone in this island that follows politics? On top of take a peak at how the PLP viciously attacks the messenger (by labelling them as racists etc) instead of addressing the message that any PLP opposition presents. The attempt to belittle and degrade the messenger displays the inability to rebut any form of criticism and thus lends credibility to the original argument. Also note that the above examples are simply off the top of my head, but I am sure if I undertook some research that there would be dozens of examples of the same totalitarian nature that this administration is leaning towards.

    We are slowly, but surely, moving away from a stable democratic nation, to one where the people feel that they cannot utilize their inherent human right of freedom of speech (unless under the cloak of anonymity) without some form of inevitable retribution coming down from the powers that be. Is this what we want to become?

    Also, I find it pretty poor of Mr. Stout that he accepted the award. He should have either refused acceptance all together or upon receipt of his award presented to Mr. Burch as a sign of sportsmanship and opposition to the route that Bermuda is now following under this current administration. The award is tainted, no matter his accomplishments, and I for one would not be able to accept it under such circumstances.

    PLP’s new mantra should read: “You are either with us or f**k you,” or “Toe the party line or else…” And Dr. Brown has the nerve to say that the blogs, newspapers and Opposition are the ones creating bad publicity for Bermuda.

  3. In 2009 are we still taking what the gazette says as gospel? Does anyone have it from the horses mouth what went actually on or are we still a bunch of unsophisticated sheep who take the gazette/Fox news at their word?

  4. Thank you for an excellent post Jonny. And for continuing to post your opinion freely and clearly.

    It is not so long ago that people were afraid to “rock the boat” for fear there might be repercussions from the remnants of the oligarchy. Now they are afraid of repercussions from the new oligarchy. It’s desperately sad to think how easily some leaders in the party have turned into the very type of people they rail against. They are truly possessed by the ghosts of the past.

    I just hope that all of this will be cast aside by subsequent generations. I have little hope for change occurring soon. A clear message has been sent that those who disagree with the party leadership will be punished.

  5. Unfortunately, we have not been left with a viable Opposition. We end up giving the bad behaviour by some members tacit approval, because we don’t have any other way of expressing our displeasure. Our one recourse, the vote, has been removed by not having an alternate choice.

    I concur with CO’s observations.

  6. I’m disgusted. And just when you think it couldn’t get worse, we get this from the PLP youth website:

    Every time I think I’ve misjudged the current PLP leadership, and they can’t possibly be as bad as I fear, they go out and prove my misgivings right. Their spin on this issue is that by questioning the plainly infantile actions of our CABINET members, we are in fact denigrating James’ accomplishments. They honestly believe that the Bermudian people are completely stupid, that’s the only thing I can come to. And hey, until the electorate prove them wrong, why not.

    By the way Jonny – I would imagine James had absolutely no knowledge of the background behind his award, he lives in NY now. He’s a great guy, don’t think it’s fair to drag him into this. He was probably just told he won something, and sent his dad up to get it. I think it would be great if he turned around and shunned the award, or did a press event with Roy Allen Burch, but I’d imagine his professional sports career is taking up his free time…

  7. Pingback: Meddling

  8. Steve,

    If the Gazette has been simply reporting nothing but libelous slander against the PLP, as is constantly claimed, then one has to wonder why the PLP does not take the RG to court and sue for printing false information.

    In the UK you constantly see papers such as the Sun and Mirror having to answer to litigation in regards to them publishing stories/accusations with no evidence at all. So why does the PLP not follow suit against the information median that they persistently claim publishes false accustations/stories on their party? Funny that huh?

    But go on and continue to blame everyone else for the PLP mishaps. It is so much easier to pass the buck and play political games, then actually having to face the music and take responsibility for ones screw ups, though isn’t it? The standard that is being set at the top has trickled down into the community, where everyone is innocent and their actions are blamed on someone else.

    If the PLP really wanted to set a standard and come out of this as being a example, they would act like adults and admit they were wrong, apologize to Mr. Burch and Bermuda as a whole for attempting to deny free speech in our democracy and force Mr. Blakeney to resign his post as sports minister. His statement that the issue wil be solved because the nominating committee will be overlooked and the ultimate decision will rest solely in his hands, only highlights his contempt for transparency, acountability and ultimately democracy within our society.

    Oh and by the way Steve, who do you think is the Minister which is lying? Minister Lister or Minister Blakeney?

  9. Great post, but…

    I think my favourite Adlai Stevenson line applies: “In a democracy, people generally get the government they deserve.”

    Until people are willing to vote for the only extant organized opposition (problematic as they may be), the ruling party has _no reason_ to change their behaviour.

    Sure, I wish the UBP would shut down. I also wish I had a different Ferrari for every day of the week. In the meantime, I have to drive the Suzuki.

    Well, there’s nothing to be done now. Expect several more years of this – and likely worse.


  10. Jonathan, do we know for sure that cabinet “meddled”?
    Are you going by the story printed in the gazette?
    You constantly say you are a PLP supporter etc but you dont speak as one. You constantly take the other road and criticize and differ from what the party says, with the caveat that you are a PLP supporter.
    If Mr Blakeney selected James Stout as the recipient because he feels he is a better candidate then fine.
    I find it reprehensible that you are castigating James Stout for accepting the award. Why is Mr. Stout not worthy of the award? He is the world champ in his sport. Not to take anything away from RoyAllen Burch who is a great athlete as well but not a world champ.
    Your credibility Jonathan has gone out the window with this farce of an attack.

  11. Hey Jonny,

    Not too sure how to get a hold of you except through a post. Any reason as to why my original post (#2) has not been posted thus far? It was not rude, did not include name calling, but provided actual recorded facts/occurences? I know you are busy, but please advise. Thanks in advance.

  12. Blame the Cabinet, the Ministers, the process now blame Mr. Stout? In the beginning….

    This is just the beginning of things to come. Seperate the issues.

    As for Renaissance Man’s comment, there are numerous choices which have been discussed since the beggining of time. You, your neighbour, you Father, Mother, Sister, Brother, vote for them. It’s still included and inclusive in the Constitution so don’t say there are no alternatives or the UBP is dead.

    Vist the House and you will see reps from the UBP, alive and well and doing a very good job under such scrutiny.

  13. One would think that this country doesnt have much more important issues to worry about then a silly sports award…so sad.

    Starling..As ive been sayin for some time via your medium…..until the people reflect the change they want to see in their government….the system n the ways it is run…will never change.

    The people of Bermuda are asleep at the perverbial wheel.

  14. Jonathan,

    I think that you’ve been gone too long. You are basing your opinion soley on what you’ve read in the Royal Gazette. I really gave you more credit than that.

    Adrian Robson was on the Everest DaCosta show yesterday and he said that Roy Allen Burch should have received the award because he is black, he should have received the award because there aren’t that many black people involved in the sport of swimming. Of course I’m paraphrasing, but bascially that is what he said. Are you in agreement with that?

    Why don’t you e-mail Minister Blakeney at and get his feedback on that matter rather than accept that the Royal Gazette is telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I’m really disappointed with you.

  15. Steve – No, some people don’t read it at all. Some people get their news from Thaao Dill and, who give half the story and tell you what to think about it. Those are the unsophisticated sheep.

  16. “One would think that this country doesnt have much more important issues to worry about then a silly sports award…so sad.”


    It has nothing to do with a silly sports award. It has everything to do with the suppression of free speech within Bermuda. The PLP administration can spin all they want, but Mr. Blakeney denied Mr. Burch the award because of his criticism of the Government. The Nominating Committee admitted this, Mr. Burch was told this and Minister Lister reaffirmed this. Unless of course like Mr. Blakeney you consider Mr. Lister a liar.

    So as you see it has nothing to do with a sports award, but the infringement on everyone human beings basic and inherent right to the freedom of speech without the fear of retribution. Individuals, such as Ms. Furbert, abuse this freedom and right to the max on a daily basis, when she claims opposition to be racist, or going on the radio blasting UBP members and making unfounded allegations, or allowing a piece to be published where black UBP members are compared to Nazi collaborators in her beloved Workers’ Voice. Does she get reprimanded by her party for such baseless accusations? Nope. I actually expect she gets praised and pat on the back for a jobe “well done,” keep up the distractions and we will do the “rest.”

    On the other hand here you have a young Bermudian sportsman who has dedicated his life to his sport and prides himself on representing his country. He lets his feelings known about the lack of funding received for his sport and is subsequently punished for doing so. Do you see the total(itarian) picture now?

    I just find it amusing that the PLP claims that everyone is liars (i.e. RG, Nominating Committee, Mr. Burch and their very own Minister Lister) and there is some overarching conspiracy to get them. In regards to the attempted spin and coverup over on and Regressive Minds, it is pathetic and disrespectful to the intelligence of Bermudians. But hey this is an administration is led by the same individual who stated they “had to deceive us.”

  17. Just a q: If not the paper, where else should folks get news? Surely we can’t ALL email our Ministers to get information every time we want to find something out. What other source would you folks recommend?

  18. Why don’t you e-mail Minister Blakeney at and get his feedback on that matter

    If you feel the Royal Gazette erroneously reports on various matters (this story being the most recent example) why should a member of the public feel it neccesary to continuously seek out MPs to set the record straight? When does it in fact actually become the MP’s responsibility to respond to the public instead? As elected (and paid) officials (who are supposed to serve the electorate) why shouldn’t MPs be held accountable to both the electorate and the media?

    accept that the Royal Gazette is telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth

    This story was first report on the evening news.

    I’m really disappointed with you.

    Well I’m disappointed with the PLP hierarchy who are treating the Government as a personal fiefdom … and I have to live with them every day!

  19. I think that you’ve been gone too long. You are basing your opinion soley on what you’ve read in the Royal Gazette. I really gave you more credit than that.

    So since you obviously know what really happened, enlighten us

  20. Dammit UE, don’t you realise that the only people you can trust in Bermuda are the cabinet ministers? They know best.

    Don’t worry, pretty soon they’ll have their own newspaper so we can better informed without the combined opposition. I can’t wait.

    @ Laverne – Sorry, but on this one you’ve no ground to stand on. Perhaps you’d also like me to email Terry Lister and ask him what happened? Or maybe the nominating comittee? Oh wait, that’s what the press already did. And got quotes. From those people.

    I know you feel you have to defend every single f*ck up of the PLP, but as I frequently had to do with the UBP, sometimes you’ve got to hold up your hands and go yeah, that was pretty dumn.

  21. Dammit UE, don’t you realise that the only people you can trust in Bermuda are the cabinet ministers? They know best.

    Well, apparently we can’t trust taxi drivers. They might actually express an opinion that doesn’t agree with the party line. And we can’t have that.

  22. I would admit that Taxi drivers should be representing Bermuda to our tourists in the best possible light, and I don’t think that the Taxi driver should have let rip like he did. Although its hard to know what the degree of entrapment was on this one. I think all the Premier was trying to say was that we should all be ambassadors for our tourists – I really don’t think there was anything sinister in it at all.

    Having said that though, its never good to just hear what you want to hear, and hearing the criticism of a taxi driver involved in tourism directly, well, I’m sure he has a good perspective on some of the direct problems facing that industry. So Mr. Bazarin could possibly benefit from hearing such a perspective.

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