2012 UBP’s Reply to the Budget – Part One

I know, the UBP is no longer the Official Opposition. It has just two MPs. I call it the rump-UBP now.

So, why am I bothering to review their reply to the Budget? Well, I plan to review the OBA’s too, and, sure, their reply is no doubt more ‘important’. That doesn’t mean the UBP’s reply should be simply ignored of course. And, the fact that it’s much shorter than the OBA’s makes it easier for me to write a review of it quicker! And besides, I feel a little sorry for them…

This review is essentially my thoughts on their reply; it’s not necessarily a comprehensive review, and I certainly don’t cover all of their reply. I’ve only commented on what I personally found of interest.

My review is based on that from Bernews.

The UBP Reply:

Their reply begins with a general ‘taking stock’ of the UBP’s current status, and it takes some nice, albeit cheap attacks on the OBA. For example, when they stress that although now a party with only two MPs, their ‘integrity and principles’ are intact. These seems to be an obvious attack on what they see as the opportunistic and illegitimate actions of those UBP parliamentary members that formed helped form the OBA.

This gives some indication of their likely line of attack in the upcoming general election. They will seek to portray the OBA as opportunistic, lacking in principles and integrity. Similarly, when they stress that in their new situations (as just two MPs) they ‘living modestly’, it seems clear that one of their electoral strategies is to position themselves as understanding the plight of the masses, unlike the OBA and PLP who are, it is implied, not.

Some (much?) of their reply is largely empty rhetoric which, while sounding good, doesn’t necessarily say much. They are hardly alone in this of course, but it is something I have come to dislike as a trend in politics. For example, what, exactly, does this actually mean? “We encourage the government to turn our anti social troubles inside out, and introduce a social coalition of all law abiding citizens to get this country on the road to make Bermuda safe again.”

They make some good points throughout their reply, such as noting that while the new police station is a “huge improvement, the Police and the Judiciary still find their various departments separate, and not housed under one roof as originally intended.”

They also give some further indications as to what their election campaign is going to be like. It would seem that they will try to build a campaign around fears of violent crime. This appeals to a particular segment of the population more than others, namely the traditional base of the old UBP, the White middle and upper class. Of course it is a concern for all, but this segment tends to have a particular weakness to political appeals on this issue, from my experience.

“We appreciate the balancing act that the Finance Minister speaks of. However, Mr. Speaker, we must conclude that the spending habits of this Finance Minister and her Cabinet colleagues since 2006, where five successive current account deficits have been produced, have contributed to the current debt. A debt that has increased nearly tenfold in the 13 years of this PLP government, a debt that has created the need for the debt ceiling to be raised to $1.45billion.”

The above is a very good point. The PLP are clearly vulnerable on this score, especially with Ms. Cox as Premier. The OBA and UBP, as well as independents, are both right (in that it is a very good point) and wise to focus their attacks on the PLP using this approach. It is clear from this that the UBP intends to train it’s ‘guns’ on both parties; the PLP for it’s economic mismanagement, the OBA for treachery and opportunism.

To date the PLP has failed to successfully explain itself on this point; it has failed to develop a ‘workable’ defence. One wonders if they even can, short of admitting they screwed up and launching a full inquiry on certain key persons. Their most likely ‘defence’ will be to try their best to ignore or confuse on this issue, coupled with going on an unrelated offensive on other issues with the hope of distracting voters (and the rival parties) from this vulnerability.

They also seem to be trying to position themselves as ‘compassionate conservatives’ – in touch with the masses and focused on constructive criticism, ‘for the good of the nation’ rather than any political reasons. Of course, every political party tries to say that in particular…

They also make good rhetorical use of following up compliments of the Budget with sucker-punches: “…the content of the budget struck the right tone… {} …the content of the budget is, however, deserving of criticism, as the government’s spending habits and poor policy decisions must now be compensated for.

They continue by listing a number of PLP policies that they particularly consider problematic, and which they presumably would reverse, as well as use as a stick to beat the PLP with. These are:

The governments previous adversarial approach toward international business;

The Foreign Spouse of a Bermudian land license policy;

The over reliance on cruise ships;

Excessive spending and the focus on high ticket events such as the cost of ‘Beyonce in concert’;

The plethora of violations prior to the recent introduction of good governance legislation;

The inability and/or refusal to properly manage, direct and control People, Projects and Resources.

Of these, the last two are particularly spot-on in my opinion.


One thought on “2012 UBP’s Reply to the Budget – Part One

  1. Pingback: 2012 UBP’s Reply to the Budget – Part Two « "Catch a fire"

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