Constitutional Matters

There are two Constitutional matters that I think need cleared up as a result of the PLP Leadership question here; one of them is a purely procedural one relating to the Disciplinary Committee, and the other is a more fundamental issue concerning conflicting constitutions.

The Disciplinary Committee

Much has been said in the media and the BIAW forum regarding the stated intent of the Party Executive to investigate whether or not the Disciplinary Committee should be invoked regarding the rasing of the Leadership question in last weeks Parliamentary Caucus. Many people, including MP Mr. Perinchief in the RG (We Won’t Be Muzzled) have looked at this move as a one of intimidation and symptomatic of dictatorial tendencies. While I can see how this can be spun in such a way, from what has been reported in the media, and by Mr. Perinchief himself, this is a mistaken view.

The motion that was put to the Parliamentary Caucus was not to discuss the issue of Party Leadership. Rather the motion was to replace the Party Leadership by threatening to disregard the PLP’s Constitution and instead playing poli-tricks with the Bermuda Constitution. Under the Bermuda Constitution it is not the Party that selects the Premier, but rather the majority of elected MPs. Under the PLP Constitution it is not the elected MPs that select the Leader (who becomes the Premier or Opposition Leader as per the PLP Constitution), but the Annual Delegates Convention. The Delegates are composed of Party branch representatives, Youth Wing representatives and elected MPs. The UBP Constitution – I understand – reflects the Bermuda Constitution in restricting the vote to elected MPs; the PLP has long prided themselves in having a greater democratic element to their system.

Furthermore, the PLP Constitution clearly outlines how to go about a Leadership challenge, and clearly states how the Disciplinary Committee may be invoked to investigate and take action regarding members who act contrary to the Constitution.

The move in the Parliamentary Caucus to challenge the leadership was in direct contravention of the PLP Constitution. As such the members acted contrary to the PLP Constitution, and the invoking of the Disciplinary Committee is therefore legitimate. Had the motion been simply to discuss the leadership – and this is what instead passed – then there would be no justification for the Disciplinary Committee to be invoked. Any talk, especially by those directly involved in the process, that the invoking of the Disciplinary Committee is an attempt to ‘muzzle’ discussion of the leadership question, is either based on ignorance of the PLP’s Constitution, or direct misrepresentation – playing to the gallery – of fact.

The fact is that the attempt was unconstitutional as per the PLP Constitution, and the Disciplinary Committee as laid out in the PLP Constitution has the remit and justification to act accordingly.

Seriously, I have no issues with discussing the Leadership, and having frank and critical discussions about the PLP’s policies, direction, strategy and tactics. Thats one of the core objectives of this site. But this move comes across as very poorly planned, and, quite frankly, unconstitutional. It would have been far better to develop a strategy for the 2009 Delegates Convention, while using backbench tactics to force compromises in the meantime and build support for a leadership challenge at the Delegates Convention. While the next scheduled leadership challenge is not until the 2010 Delegates Convention, a Leadership Challenge can be invoked at any time by a Special Delegates Convention or at a regular Delegates Convention. The play so far has been a bizarre opening gambit, and based on short-term tactics without evaluating positions and planning a long-term plans for future play. In other words its been devoid of strategy and looks likely to fail. One would have expected a better game to be honest.

A Tale of Two Constitutions?

The more fundamental problem brought up by this incident is the fact that the PLP Constitution can be undermined by the Bermudian Constitution as regards who is the Premier. The move to challenge the leadership in the Parliamentary Caucus directly invoked the Bermudian Constitution and how it states the Premier is chosen by the majority of MPs as a justification. This is contrary to the PLP Constitution that has proudly allowed for greater participation in choosing the Leader by including Branch delegates in the decision.

This was first highlighted in the immediate 2003 post-election ‘palace coup’ that forced a leadership change. A precedent was then made, and it is hypocritical of those who benefitted from that tactic to today condemn it as unconstitutional. But it was, and is, unconstitutional, and should be condemned today just as it was then. The late Lois Browne-Evans at the time advocated the expulsion of those MPs – as was warranted by the PLP Constitution – but a desire to not lose power after so many years in Opposition resulted in the compromise Premiership of Mr. Scott. Personally, while I can understand the desire to compromise, I think it was a mistake, and the precedent that it set has been festering away since.

Strictly in a constitutional legal sense, the palace coup of 2003 and the current move of 2009 are perfectly legitimate. That doesn’t make it right, and that phrase ‘unethical but not illegal’ that has been haunting the Party since the BHC scandal finds its voice again with this move.

The question for the Party, and it has to be a self-conscious one, is which constitution should be followed? Should the PLP Constitution, warts and all, which allows for greater democratic participation take precedence? Or should the Bermuda Constitution, warts and all, which allows for greater parliamentary efficiency, take precedence?

Personally, I support the more democratic and participatory PLP Constitution. More ideally I would support a more fundamental redesign of our political system. This blog considers itself within the Luxemburgist school of Marxism, and as such is close to Council Communism in its vision for a bottom-up social and economic democracy.

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50 thoughts on “Constitutional Matters

  1. Honestly lawyers are just thieves who steal ideas and copyright them for their own benefit.
    Workers should vote for workers not lawyers and doctors they get enough in the private sector.
    Legal red tape like constitutions have failed us.
    BURN THE PLP CONSTITUTION AT UNION SQUARE.
    It is not working.

  2. In this situation, the only thing that matters is the Bermuda Constitution — aka The Law! The PLP can go ahead and discipline its ‘misbehaving’ MPs, e.g. kick them out, but that would be foolish –they would still be MPs, and still be entitled to get together with any other MPs (e.g. the UBP) to select a new Premier.

    The real problem is that PLP constitution is not quite suited for a party that is the Government, due to quirks like the leadership selection process. It makes no sense to have a party leader who is not supported by the MPs.

  3. I disagree, the real problem is that the Bermuda Constitution is out of synch and reduces the level of democratic participation in the system. While the PLP Constitution is far from perfect, its allowance for greater democracy than the UBP or Bermuda Constitution is what we should strive for, not a reduction of democracy.

    Technically, legally, the Bermuda Constitution is all that matters. I concede that. But shouldn’t we strive to be more democratic? I like these three, but they have made a mistake. It was wrong, and the Party is within its rights to discipline them for it.

  4. Funny, Douglas…i suppose the UBPs process is better because the Leader must be supported by the majority of MPs even though the majority of the members may not want them. And when this is done in secret at Dunkley’s house, it makes it even more transparent.
    Give me a break.

  5. Jonnystar, as you say the three made a mistake in your view. Too some degree I agree. The matter will be dealt with according under the PLP Constitution but in reality it has served the purpose intended.

    As for our Bermuda Constitution it still is what both party’s fought hard for and saught common ground for, the good of the island.

    The PLP can do what the hell they want internally et al.

    Don’t mess with my “Tute Tute”…as the song goes.

    Party rights and Civil rights are two seperate issues, believe it or not.

    The Country, the People, the future.

    The Governor will do what he can do. Within the laws of the land.

    Gotta run………..

  6. A simple question.

    I understand the need for constitutions, rules, procedures etc. In practical terms though, ‘if’ there were sufficient MP’s who came forward and said…”we can’t work with this man anymore”, doesn’t his position become untenable?

    Are we talking (maybe) of procedural niceties?

  7. Yes, his position would become untenable. I do not dispute that, I’m just saying that there are constitutional means by which this could, and should have been done.

  8. “In practical terms though, ‘if’ there were sufficient MP’s who came forward and said…”we can’t work with this man anymore”, doesn’t his position become untenable”

    I believe Randy Horton remarked that Dr. Brown offered to step down if 12 or more MPs agreed as much.

  9. the plp is in trouble

    in one breath they say they support democracy which means they support the people goin to the so called rebel mps and the people making these rebel mps stand up on their behalf and represent their concerns as constituants.
    and in the next breath the plp leadership and some of tha fanatical rank and file are saying these rebel mps are rebels cause they followed through in representing their constituants.

    so PLP leadership n delagates which one is it? u support the so called democratic system ya party has or u dont.

    do constituants have a voice or not?

    BAN ALL POLITICAL PARTIES >>> ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE

  10. Hey SoO, just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with the MPs listening to their constituents and acting on them, the problem is just in how they act on it. The tactics they chose were not ideal and contrary to the PLP Constitution, that’s the only issue. The discussion on the Leadership, that is welcome, or if not welcome by the leadership, constitutionally allowed and grudgingly accepted.

  11. There is a list of the callers who support the Premeir and his antibermudian hatred revealed when he took $28million dolars from Bermudians and gave it to an amreican firm globalhue. All of them need to be arrested and placed in a concentration camp at old Casemates.
    Neurologists need to scan their brains to see why would a person support a man that has a track record of hatred for Bermudians.
    Party loyalty?
    Bribes?
    Low self esteem?
    Senility some are little old in age.

  12. Straight out of the black press the AdHT funds went to a white PLP MPs bank account. The nazis are coming after their money.
    nationalsozialumus!

  13. The challenge to the leaderhip is too late we need a nazi party to save Bermudians from foreigners Natioanlsozialumus!

  14. I can see where people who disagree with the move because it is against the PLP constitiution are coming from. However, I think more importantly you have to consider their opponent. Does anyone really think that Dr. Brown will let a little thing like the party’s constitution stand in his way when it comes to defending himself against a movement to remove him from leadership? I think there might be some logic and justification in these MPs choosing to work according to the only constitution they can reasonably expect to be fairly and meaningfully enforced. That is the Bermuda Constitiution.
    Also, the moajority of the population who are not PLP members could hardly care less if these guys follow any party constitution. We just want them to do what is in our best interests. What they were elected to do.

  15. Hi Black Press, would you be able to expand on how you think a facsist white supremacist ideology is of any use to our political situation? The mind boggles so far in understanding your reasonings.

  16. Black elites and foriegners are like the Jews who oppressed the Germans in Germany until Hilter freed the Germans from oppression to greatness.
    Zane Desivla and Dennis Corriera are raping the PLP contracts this is the real reason MPs are mad.
    Bermudians want a Hitler to free them from illegal taxes, illegal rental rates and even like a gang banger said, “Take back Tuckers town for poor blacks!” OPC politcs. a negative nazi party would force some concessions from the right wing conservative Ronald Reagan leader the UBP gave the PLP.
    Brown will never be a true grass roots.
    We need a National agenda along with the Social agenda.
    Nationalsozialumus the Nazis are coming! I invite alll PLP dissidents to break rank and join.

  17. the plp central comitee has sold out the grass roots foundation of the plp in support of elities.

    brown has clearly breeched the constitution by goin after major dill…for this and this alone he should be removed from office as premier

  18. I’m a bit reluctant to continue this bizarre discussion, but the Jews were oppressing the Germans and Hitler liberated them? Really? What are you smoking man? You seriously want a Nazi dictatorship in place of our current democracy? I’m still waiting for you to give a reasoned argument in favour for adopting corporatism and White supremacy.

  19. This is all disinformation and quite boring. You’d not be surprised at the identities of these posters. The same on every blog.

    I need a rum…….

  20. “This is all disinformation and quite boring. You’d not be surprised at the identities of these posters. The same on every blog.

    I need a rum…….”

    Indeed, Cahow. Indeed……..

  21. starling…..if this was a democratic society…citizens wont be getting opressed/displaced by the govt…. nor would citizens be on the recieving end of human rights abuses, nor would people be getting fired from govt jobs without cause nor would civil servents be threatened with being fired…nor would the premier break the constitution to harass civil servents…and nor would the various legislative reforms put forward by the people with petitions be ignored.

    some would call this the clear beginings of dicktatorship in actoion.

    n whats real funny ..this is the type of behaviour that these same politicians would have been marching against back in the day…my how things change.

  22. SoO, I personally regard our liberal democracy as a far cry from genuine grassroots democracy, but to argue that we should replace it with a facsist White supremacist dictorship is nonsensical at best. Our liberal democracy should be seen as a stepping stone towards realising true democracy, not as seen as inherently flawed and thus all notion of democracy should be rejected and an outright dictatorship adopted instead.

    There is some interesting aspects of corporatism/facsism that we could discuss, and I’m happy to do that. But just spitting out random calls for a new Reich (in Bermuda of all places!) comes across as if the person is just trying to get a rise and knows little to nothing about what he’s actually advocating.

  23. i dont think hes calling for it…i think hes pointing out that its existing now under the guise of a democratic party…….my opinion on black press comments.

    the central comitte and the delegates of the plp have sold out the grass roots people of bermuda by supporting eliets like brown and others.

    breaking or attempting to subvert the bermuda constitution is treason.

  24. ok so lets just call in what it is…a democratic dictatorship run by minority rule

  25. Whites lack insight. Whites are superior in technology and finances but clairvoyantly and socially they are slow. Lets just forget the lack of vision and deal with step by step technical issues.
    Bermuda has no constitution as a nation until it goes Independent.
    This is foolish because a nation should have a minimum of 5 million people to go Independent. Otherwise Ralph Commissiong and his gombeys could breakaway like those libertarians at Waco texas.
    The UK and America have tolerated Bermuda for their own special interests of corrupt politicans in those countries.
    True Independence would mean the ability to repel a U.S.U.K. invasion. This will never happen so lets just forget about that foolish nonsense and take orders from the FBI CIA SCOTLAND YARD and the HAGUE.
    The Premeir is giving too many contracts to white contractors, this will secure the white PLP vote and force blacks to riot, burn and rise up against the puppet Premeir and his elite followers.
    The U.B.P. did more for blacks than this Premeir has but because of race and immigration middle class blacks refuse to vote for them. Working class blacks refuse to vote UBP because of immigration. ( promises to long term residents during the last general election )
    The Premeirs tactic of scaring whites to support him is brilliant.
    But there is a big chance whites will become scapegoats during this Beyonce recession the PLP did not have the economic wisdom to avoid like Eugene Cox did in 2003 Budget.

  26. I find your racism repugnant ‘Blackpress’.

    And where do you get your numbers – countries need 5 million people to be independent?

    And the PLP, through Dr. Brown, is securing the White vote? I’m not even in the country right now and I can tell that most Whites are far from supportive of a Dr. Brown PLP.

    And AGAIN there is very little that Bermuda could have done to avoid a GLOBAL ECONOMIC RECESSION. The most that could have been done is a little foresight to cushion its impact. But as, even though there were those who warned of the coming crisis, Bermuda was hardly the only country to have not believed the crisis would happen as it has.

    And again, please explain to me your reasoning for advocating a Bermudian Nazi Party? And please, by all means, start it and start walking around town wearing a swastika armband – let us know how much support you get… After all, its one thing to talk about doing something, and another thing to do it…

  27. Jonathan,

    Rather than wear swastika armbands, some people prefer to use bus shelters to display them.

    SoO,

    Tell us how “thecentral comitte and the delegates of the plp sold out the grass roots people of bermuda by supporting eliets like brown and others and what they’ve done to break or attempt to subvert the bermuda constitution.

    I guess you must agree with Stuart Hayward because I see he’s also accusing Dr. Brown of treason.

  28. Laverne……it is totally pointless discussin anything with u, just as u claim the gazett is biased etc etc….u are just as equally biased in ya various ways….u cant process anything anyone has to say, and apparently u think Bermuda has arrived as a nation under ya party.

    every thing u say is a fact and every thing anyone else has to say is a false hood, you cant debate any of the issues people put in their posts, u only try to attack them personally, or go off on some weird tangent and not even adress point placed in posts…i guess they are “plantation points”…hence why you dont answer.

    so wa de point in talkin to u bout anyting? wa is the point of keeping u relivent in any conversation?

    This is why violence is going to have to be the tool for change here cause talkin to anyone in ya leadership is like talkin to you. The youth need to take out old people who are stealing from them and not providing hem with the tools to be productive citizens.

    ya part of de problem. ive already listed my explanations on this matter go n read em….scroll through the various posts ive made.

    mr haywards a smart man……and a partiot, some people(like yaself) seem to think that their political party is the country or bigger than the country.

    as for the how…..ya cousin is attempting to fire major dill…only the govenor can do that…n thats in the constitution..the real one …the bermuda one…..and thats treason especially if the leader of the country is trying to break it. too bad we dont have armed milisha groups here like they have in the usa…..they would stop any politician from tampering with their constitution

    hey perhaps the gangs here can be our armed milisha groups…..im quite willing to go in de hood n tell em to start shooting @ the people standing in the way of equality for all, instead of shooting at their peers

    ya cousin is presiding over a govt that is allowing citizens human rights to be trampled on cause they speak out against the govt.

    country over party…ban all political parties and operate a bottom up democratic society….the only people who are against real democracy here are the ones who are fighting to hold onto the perks of the current system of political office in bermuda….50yrs n counting…the same ole game of lets con the masses….politicians get rich while the masses cant even get overtime pay n minimum wage laws.

    Oh PS….u never did say if u were goin to take the recommendation posted here about financial monitoring of mps bank accounts to the central comitee for adoptation to prevent corruption.

    international attention on the econmic goings on here will translate into the stories of the people being told and that exposure will tell the real story of the plp govt…..and the international press is far worse than any royalgazettte…..letters have been and are being written to various international leaders…..

    so fill up ya pockets quick…..u..(politicians and eliets) may not have de chance to do it much longa.

  29. democratic dictatorship run by minority rule…aka the central comitie of the plp n the delegates

  30. “..I’m not even in the country right now and I can tell that most Whites are far from supportive of a Dr. Brown PLP.”

    That’s a racist statement.

  31. I disagree. The Whites do form a coherent social/economic/cultural group within Bermuda, as do the Blacks. This group is far from monolithic, but there is sufficient census and survey data to indicate that the vast majority of Whites fall within the middle and upper classes, and tend to vote overwhelmingly for the UBP as opposed to the PLP, or compared to if the popular vote was evenly distributed racially.

  32. J Galt,

    that is not a racist statement. Every poll put out shows that over 95% of white bermudians dont support the PLP.

  33. what might be considered racist (or perhaps bigoted as racist conveys too much nuance) would be to say they should feel discomfort for having the temerity to exist. Or perhaps to suggest they are all Obama hating krakkas. If its not racist its certainly lazy and crude stereotyping that is meant to divide more than lead.

  34. Constitutionally there is no such thing as Bermuda therefore the black press will lobby the Senate Judicary committee and whiteskinsheads known in the community.
    When one buys arms down south one sees racism tattooed on shop owners just emotionalism.
    Liberalism is worse than racism. Back to leadership solutions.

  35. Ok. 95%, 86% (with 10% undecided), are very similar. The point being that white people support the UBP almost exclusively whereas black support is more spread among the options.

  36. Ken….get a life…of course white people support the UBP……….

    At least they were’nt deceived by vocal threats………

    Propaganda is your league…..and so is the demise of your ancestors and the fruit they bore…….

  37. “..The point being that white people support the UBP almost exclusively whereas black support is more spread among the options.”

    That’s a racist statement.

  38. I get the impression we are talking at cross purposes here. Is it or isn’t it a fact that the majority of White Bermudians, as shown by numerous statistical investigations, show overwhelming support for the UBP?

  39. black or white people who dont support the upliftment of the working class deserve to be robbed and killed by the very criminal element that is created by the whites and blacks who ignore the poverty in this country of rich elites

    robin hood times are comming

  40. From Wiki (granted not the most reliable of sources, but it’ll do for this purpose…):

    Racism is the belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

    With this in mind, how can “White people support the UBP” be racist?
    Is there an element of superiority or inferiority in supporting the UBP?

    I’m not following.

  41. aren’t people confusing the word “racist” (noun or adjective) with the word “racial” (adjective only)?

    ‘the majority of white people support the UBP” is a “racial” statement of fact that cannot be denied. But it is not a “racist” statement in and of itself.

    The reasons why the majority of white people have supported the UBP could be have been for “racist”reasons in the past, but given the make up of the party today that does not make sense.

  42. the entire rank and file of the plp have condoned and allowed the breech of the constitution of Bermuda, parliment needs to be disbanded and the uk take control just like TCI until a bottom up democratic government is formed.

  43. The sooner people get over the fact that “white people support UBP” the better. Some things in life can not be controlled no matter how loud you shout. The PLP won without whites. It is anyone’s right to vote for whomever they want, they don’t have to justify it. Move on, the PLP won.

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