First off I just want to make it clear that, yeah, I do not support the BDA, not by far. I have in my posts been rather critical of them for what I can only describe as their schoolboy approach to politics to date. I have been critical of their failure to launch with any credibility or platform beyond ‘we’re not the UBP’ combined with a failure to clarify how, exactly, they are different from the UBP. Having said that, I do welcome them as having the potential to really change our political landscape, and recognise that a good opposition is vital for having a good government, and that is the basis for my criticisms (apart from sheer ideological differences).
Now, as I see it the BDA faces two main challenges if it wants to be taken seriously. The first of these is that it needs to clarify that it is not just the UBP in new clothes. The second is that it needs to really tackle the issue of race which is, whether we like it or not, a central aspect of politics in Bermuda, very much intertwined with class issues. These two challenges are of course interrelated, but my focus here will be more on the first challenge.
The BDA was founded by three sitting UBP MPs, at least three high-ranking UBP Officials or prominent members (Micheal Fahy, Sean Pitcher and Wayne Scott). Right of the bat the BDA was faced with the need to differentiate itself from the UBP. It hasn’t really done anything on that front since, except to repeat vague phrases about how they weren’t the UBP and were instead ‘for a better way’ without really explaining how they were better or different from the UBP. Polls show that so far the BDA has only split the UBP vote and have failed to capture any support from the PLP.
Now that the BDA has solidified their position with their Party Conference on February 20th, electing its Leader, Deputy Leader and Chair, developed their Constitution and ‘appointed’ their Executive, the BDA is able to start differentiating themselves from their UBP parent. Having put their house in order, or at least setting the foundation, their MPs, who were elected as UBP MPs, should resign their positions and contest by-elections. Doing so allows new candidates to be potentially put forward, or for the incumbent MPs to receive a mandate for their actions and the new Party. In the process they get to test their new machinery, focus their members and build their credibility in the populace.
An ideal time for the BDA to do this would be March 20th, exactly one month after their Conference. This, and the resulting time period between their resignation and the by-election, should give it more than enough time to prepare and properly contest the by-elections. If the BDA professes to be for a ‘better way’ for politics in Bermuda, and they have the support from their constituents that they say, then they have nothing to fear and everything to gain by contesting by-elections.