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.