Well, this week has certainly been an interesting one in the realm of local politics. Readers of this blog will know that I opposed the tactics being used to replace the leadership of the PLP, declaring them unconstitutional and counter-productive. That remains my position.
I also criticised (at least on the BIAW forum) what were then allegations of an ‘oath of loyalty’ being peddled by the RG and the UBP. I did so under the understanding that there was no such ‘oath’ put out by the Leadership. I also said that if that was the case, it deserved to be ridiculed. More than that, it would prove the insecurity of the current Leader as regards his position, and would not have any real effect other than to serve as a form of intimidation towards Ministers. I say this because Ministers would feel compelled to affirm such loyalty or risk losing their Cabinet positions.
It now appears, following comments by Ms. Paula Cox, that there was indeed an ‘oath of loyalty’. Whether this was in fact an ‘oath’ or a letter of endorsement is not clear, but there is very little difference between the two in substance.
Those supporters of the Party who had ridiculed the notion of an ‘oath’ as a ridiculous figment of the Opposition’s imagination no doubt did so after confirming from within the Party that there was no such ‘oath’. While there may have not been a piece of paper explicitly called an ‘oath’ it seems that these Party supporters were misled through some disingenuous word play.
These members and supporters no doubt now feel a deep sense of betrayal having been misled and made to look the fool as a result. The long-term consequences of such a feeling of mistrust amongst supporters/members will be hard to judge, but it is likely they will be less likely to jump to the defence of the Party again with the same energy.
I too was misled on this issue, and feel a little manipulated as a result. I am certainly not impressed as a result.
My own personal feelings aside, I have wider concerns about this ‘oath’ or whatever one wants to call it.
Its not clear either if this ‘letter of support’ originated from the Leader or the Party Executive. I could understand the motivation of the Leader, but the Executive would have been grossly overstepping its remit, and its actions would be suspicious indeed.
As stated above, I can see no point to such an approach other than an attempt to intimidate Cabinet Ministers. This is something that should be condemned as it is.
What is worse to me is that apparently Cabinet Ministers agreed to this. Not one appears to have the sense of moral outrage (although Ms. Cox seems to have been slightly insulted) to refuse point blank to cave in to such intimidation. I no longer have any respect for them – none of them, Ms. Cox included.
It is possible that there is some explanation that could explain this incident in a way that is understandable, but as things stand I am having a hard time to think of one. What is more, I don’t have enough trust right now to believe any such explanation.
I also remain concerned that the short-sighted tactics employed by the ‘gang of three’ made their leadership challenge has given Dr. Brown a legitimate excuse to solidify his position. One would hope that he would seek to solidify his position by reaching out to his opponents and reconcile those within the Party that may have legitimate concerns with his Leadership. However there is also the possibility that he will instead use this as an excuse to take hard-line actions to punish those who opposed him.
The ‘gang of three’ were constitutionally wrong in their actions, and should be censured. But anything beyond this will only increase resentment and factionalism within the Party. Furthermore, any stronger action will play into the hands of his critics who already accuse him of authoritarian tendencies. This would be an easily avoidable mistake.
I remain a supporter of the Progressive Labour Party over the foundering United Bermuda Party, but I am increasingly disappointed with a continuing dependence on negative politics, from all sides. Before 1998 there were those who advocated voting UBP as they were seen as the lesser of two evils. Today I find myself advocating the PLP as a lesser of two evils. I am not comfortable with such a politics, and we should all be working for a politics of the greater good, not a lesser evil. Currently though, it looks like we have some rough seas up ahead as far as local politics is concerned.
I remain open to being corrected on these points. Based on the available information though, the above is my current position.