I read with some curiousity the articles in the RG today about Kim Swan’s rallying call to a paltry attendance of members, Charles Jeffers thoughts on the NewBP and the court case of prominent NewBP member Sean Pitcher.
I am sure, and the report in the RG amplifies this view, that many will at first look take the poor attendance at the UBP meeting as further evidence that the UBP is doomed. I think however it is important to note that this was not a general UBP meeting, but a branch level meeting in now exUBPer NewBPer Mark Pettingill. In these meetings one would imagine only the branch officers and the more active local members are likely to attend. Attendance would not be expected to be high at the best of times, and in what is clearly a split and demoralised branch it is no surprise that it would be low. Had Mr. Swan had such a low turnout in a general UBP meeting (and that they haven’t done this may indicate they are afraid to do so), then there would be more in it for UBPers to worry about. As for Mr. Swan’s actual speech, there isn’t much to say. It was unsurprisingly hyperbolic, and didn’t really make much sense to me. If anything it smacked of desperation and not decisiveness. If the UBP is to rebound and maintain itself as a rump political party it needs to sit down and carefully plan its next few steps, maintain cohesion and stop with personal bloodletting, focusing more on organisational and ideological restructuring. So far it really hasn’t inspired much hope for doing so and seems intent on lashing out and nonsensical diatribe.
It is now almost a week and a half and the NewBP hasn’t come out with its name, plan of action or anything whatsoever since their premature and ill-prepared launch. All that has been heard of them since has been from pundits like myself or sniping from the jilted UBP. Unfortunately today’s paper did have a report on Sean Pitcher, one of the exUBPer NewBP founders, although this was about his trial for impaired driving. I’m not saying anything about the particulars of the case, but it is quite pathetic that the NewBPs public image so far is that of the UBP sniping and traffic misdemeanors. Where is the NewBP?
Mr. Jeffers had his usual informative insights in an interview about the NewBPs viability. I do agree with him in his general analysis, that the situation is ripe at the moment for an NLP style third party movement to have much more success than the NLP itself did back in the 1980s and early 1990s. I don’t quite share his optimism that this NewBP itself will be able to fulfill that role though. A third party could work now simply because there is no longer a viable parliamentary opposition of any sort, with the government instead being checked more forcefully by internal PLP dissent and civil society. The NewBPs impotence so far does not do it any favours, let alone instill confidence anywhere near the level required to attract the support and names it needs to be formidable challenge to PLP hegemony. One does wonder however how much of Mr. Jeffers statements should be read as opinion or if Mr. Jeffers and the former NLP organisation are actively assisting the formation of the NewBP. They certainly would be able to offer the NewBP experience in party organisation and a ready made ideological platform to use as a template.