As Denis notes over at 21 Square it seems that the honeymoon period for the NewBP has been a short and brief one. It is not so much that the NewBP has been rebuked for its position or actions; afterall, how could it be when it hasn’t done anything or outlined its positions? Perhaps the only result of the NewBPs pitiful launch (and, at this rate, its most enduring) has been the disarray within the remaining rump UBP.
While talk of a ‘younger, blacker, fresher’ NewBP was nothing new, especially since the 2007 election, I admit I was surprised at the way they went about the launch. It was chaotic, poorly executed and didn’t tell me anything about the NewBP except who its public faces where. It told me a lot about the decay within the UBP, and it also told me that the launch was badly planned, politically premature and generally rushed. I had expected the NewBP to have prepared something, anything really, for this week, to clarify to the public what they were all about and capitalise on what little momentum they may still have following a week of nothing on their part. Monday’s paper came and went, and now, too, has Tuesday’s. And still there is nothing in the public domain about the NewBP, what they wish to call themselves or why anyone should vote for them or what makes them different from the UBP. Nothing. No website, no press releases, no name, nothing. All that the NewBP has is a handful of newspaper articles announcing its birth. At the moment the NewBP is a nonBP, it is stillborn.
The irony for the stillborn NewBP is that the media has been dominated more by the rump UBP and its crises, of which the NewBP was both a sympton and catalyst, as well as by the thoughts of the outgoing PLP Chairman on the upcoming Annual Delegates Convention of the PLP. Perhaps what is worse for the NewBP is that at their launch (if it can be called such a thing) they spoke confidently of capturing the support of a former PLP MP, indicating they stood to siphon off some PLP support. They failed to have such an individual present at their launch, leaving them open to accusations of bluster, and they have failed since to produce this (or any) individual to back up their claims. While they may indeed have lined up such a prominent individual, their failure to maintain the momentum that their launch provided them, has allowed them to be eclipsed by the UBP and PLP, not to mention mundane news stories, as well as ridiculed as political novices who couldn’t even handle an adequate launch. Any individual from the PLP they may have lined up will be increasingly less inclined to be associated with such an incompetent bunch, as, no doubt, will be those who lined up as potential donors.
I expect the NewBP to cause a slight flurry of interest when they finally get around to announcing their name and platform. However one gets the sense that they have lost the opportunities that their announcement provided. It is possible that they will be able to come up with a really good platform and organisational structure, they may even be able to dig in for the long haul and slowly but surely establish themselves as a credible and effective entity. It’s possible. Their problem though is that they have made a difficult task much harder than it already was through their pitiful launch and subsequent strategy of being missing in action. While it is true that he who holds his tongue is often considered wise, and this carries over into politics, it is also true in politics that without a name, without a platform and without generally being something of substance, one is essentially nothing.
This is not to say that the NewBP’s contribution to Bermudian politics is nothing. Their very existence has changed the political equation, just not quite in the way I reckon they would have liked. Their most important contribution has been to confirm to all that the UBP is no longer a viable Party for forming the government. The subsequent sniping between the NewBP and UBP (who leaked the ultimatum causing the premature launch, etc.) and associated fallout (the flood of resignations from the UBP) and the pathetic responses from the UBP, both in reaction to the NewBP and internally (Moniz on Swan, Swan on Moniz), has well and truly confirmed the UBP as an impotent political structure, a ship drifting with no rudder or sails. While the NewBP may so far have taken on the role of a sinking lifeboat to this listless ship, their second greatest contribution has been to show how NOT to launch a political party. Bermuda may be best regarding this NewBP as a dress rehearsal for a viable new Party, an opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
As noted, it is possible that the NewBP re-launches itself and over time outcompetes the rump UBP to become the Official Opposition. They may even be able to convince the Governor that with three MPs united as a political Party they should have a Senator appointed (doubtful). Their performance so far however leaves me not holding my breath for the NewBP as the saviour of our political system, although they may still prove to be a mid-wife for a new political order, simply for showing the impotency of the UBP in all its barren glory.