The wrong constituency? Constituency 20, Pembroke South West

I ran in Constituency 20.

Roughly, its eastern border is King Street, its southern border Hamilton harbour, its western border juts into the Great Sound (Point Shares), and its northern border was roughly Elliot Street-Serpentine Road-St. John’s Road (up to Traveller’s Lane).

About a third of the constituency consists of the bulk of the City of Hamilton (probably about 80% of the city, if not more).  Only a few parts of this urban thirdPosts housed constituents (mostly King Street, Princess Street, Elliot Street, Joells Alley, Dundonald Street and a few individuals scattered throughout the rest of the area).

It also has four rather distinct community areas.  The ‘back-a-tawhn’ part was the smallest, in terms of constituents, and overwhelmingly working class (although the apartment blocks on Parliament and Dundonald were upper middle-class dominated).  There was an upper middle-class area roughly along the Pitts Bay Road area (albeit with some scattered upper class residents).  There was an upper-class dominated area constituting Fairylands and Point Shares (although even here there were scattered middle and working class areas).  And then there was a mixed residential area of working-class and middle-class roughly along Woodbourne, Serpentine and the Mills Creek area.

Of these four areas, in terms of population, the constituency was dominated by the upper and upper middle-class groupings.


Demographically, beyond class, it has the following statistics:

Total population size – 1,171

Gender – 56.1% Female, 43.9% Male

Age – The constituency is largely composed of an ‘older’ population, with 42.8% of the population being over the age of 60 – and 61.2% being over the age of 50.  The total breakdown, by age, is below:

18-29 = 12.5%

30-39 = 11.3%

40-49 = 15%

50-59 = 18.4%

60-69 = 17.5%

70-79 = 11.1%

80-89 = 10.2%

90-99 = 3.9%

Over 100 = 0.1%

Race – I don’t have any data on the racial breakdown of the constituency’s population, but based on my canvassing I would estimate that the population is mostly composed of White Bermudians, perhaps as much as 70% (if not more).

Political History

The constituency itself has only existed since the new constituencies came into existence for the 2003 election.  The UBP won this seat in both the 2003 and 2007 elections, although the boundaries have changed since these elections, with the addition of some blocks of back-of-town (formerly Constituency 21).

2003 Election – The UBP (Louise Jackson) won the seat with 81.83% of the vote against the PLP (Neville Darrell).

2007 Election – The UBP (Louise Jackson) won the seat with 83% of the vote against the PLP (LaVerne Furbert).

Bearing in mind the above, the seat would generally be considered an Opposition stronghold, especially as, since the merging of the Bermuda Democratic Alliance and the bulk of the United Bermuda Party, the OBA has effectively replaced the UBP in Bermuda’s political space.

In the end the OBA (Susan Jakson, daughter of Louise Jackson) won the seat with 78.23% of the vote.  The PLP (Marcus Jones) won 15.19% of the vote, the Independent David Petty won 3.71% of the vote, and I won 2.87%.

Was this the right constituency?

While there were certainly a number of factors that contributed to my defeat, I think it’s pretty clear that my political platform, which was broadly socialist-feminist-green in context, didn’t resonate with the bulk of the constituents.

With a historical tendency of voting for conservative candidates, and being a generally older and upper-class dominated constituency (factors which generally would not be conducive to a left-wing platform), that the OBA (the inheritor of the UBP’s mantle) won this constituency easily, is perhaps not all that surprising.

So, I do think this was the wrong constituency.  I was hoping that there would be a larger number of self-identified ‘greens’ or feminists in the constituency, as well as socialist leaning individuals who would vote for me.  I also hoped to capture more of the PLP vote.  While this may not have been sufficient to win, it was my hope that I would have at least come second.

In the end, I think I took most of my votes from the disgruntled PLP voters, and a few votes who could be classed as socialist-feminist-green voters.  Far too little on both counts (although I think there were far more who identified with my platform, but chose to stick with Party candidates in this election).

So, was it the wrong constituency?  Yes.

Its demographic composition and political history would all indicate this was far from the ideal constituency for my platform.

But what would be the right constituency?

I honestly don’t know.

That most of my votes came from disgruntled PLP voters would indicate that a constituency with a greater number of PLP voters (historically), but also one where there may be a greater number of self-identified socialists/feminists/greens.  How does one identify such a constituency demographically?  That is the question…

At a pinch I would say it would be a constituency with a high number of young voters, professionals and civil servants, as well as with a relatively large traditionally PLP voter base.  How one identifies that constituency is another question though.

It should also be a constituency where I have a more historical connection, where I have a greater familiarity with the geography and local issues than I did in Constituency 20.

One thought on “The wrong constituency? Constituency 20, Pembroke South West

  1. you need a constituency with a PLP majority of 60% or more – so that the OBA is not seriously fighting for it. A PLP seat is important, as it means the majority are closer to the left than the right.

    One with a lower turnout, as it is easier to win over disaffected / non-committed voters than loyal voters.

    One where the OBA vote has a large contingent of working class white people. These are people who vote OBA because they believe the PLP barely realises they even exist or, if the PLP does realise, doesn’t care about them. If you can say to them that “the OBA can’t win here – I’m the guy who will stand up for you” then you might have a chance of getting their vote.

    If you can pick up 30% of PLP voters, 30% of OBA voters and 30% of non voters then you can win (i.e, to spell it out, you can win by convincing less than a third of the electorate to vote for you to win provided you can pick up enough 2012 non-voters).

    But you won’t have a chance if you focus on green issues, feminism and electoral reform. That’s the student academia and educated public sector vote. Bermuda doesn’t have the equivalent of a UK university town constituency. Such voters do exist here, but they are spread all over the place. By all means have policies on those things, so you can draw attention to it when you meet voters who care about such things, but it will be a turn off for the others, so has to occupy the back burner.

    To win, you need to focus on bread and butter issues such as reducing the cost of living. And you need to win people’s trust by basically acting as an unpaid community worker for five years – making sure old people have somebody looking out for them locally; campaigning to get the police to patrol more often, especially if there are drug dealer hangouts; organising litter picks of neglected areas; standing up for residents who have to live next door to a problem family in government housing to get them kicked out; traffic calming measures on dangerous roads,

    You need to get people in the constituency, even those who would never vote for you, thinking “Jonathan is the guy who looks out for us”

    The least important thing is familiarity and historical connection. You will become familiar with it very quickly. And, unless you’re standing in St Davids, nobody cares about historical links to the constituency. Does it really matter whether you say “I grew up in Smith’s West” or “I grew up in Smith’s” or “I grew up on the east side” or “I grew up in Bermuda”. Extreme localism is not important – just show you can identify with the people and speak for them – that’s what matters, not what part of which parish you grew up in.

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