Honeymoons & other fictions

Politics.bm has a post up criticising PLPers for criticising the OBA following the election; it’s called ‘No honeymoon for you!’

Now, this post of his was written on January 4th, and he’s been dormant since, so it was written long before the recent furore concerning consultants and now the Premier’s jaunt off to DC for President Obama’s public inauguration.

In fact, his post was mostly a bit gloating-like really, basically being a put-down on the PLP and touting the OBA’s victory, so it didn’t really address anything of substance, imho.

Mandate to rule?

I would even argue that it’s a bit misleading, in that he argues that the OBA has the support of 52% of the population, and so have a mandate to do whatever they want.

Which basically comes across, to me, as him dismissing the Opposition and telling them to get lost, which isn’t a good idea, in that the Government needs a strong Opposition to hold it accountable.  And, for the record, I strongly believe that Mr Dunleavy also believes this (the need for a strong and vocal Opposition).

However, the OBA does not have the support of 52% of the population.

It only has about 52% of the support of the voting population, which more or less translates into the OBA having just over 33% (one third) of the population, as close to a third of the people didn’t come out to vote.  Whether this absent third was due to the OBA’s (and the PLP’s) failure to convince them to support the either party, or inability to vote (the student vote, for example) or are traditionally non-voters, doesn’t necessarily matter.

The OBA only has just over a third of the populations support.

True, this is nothing new, and the PLP’s mandate in the past was equally sized, but it does speak to a failure to connect with a substantial portion of the populace, by both parties, and leads to questions about legitimacy in terms of popular mandates to enact legislation.

This is an issue which both parties need to deal with, and reflect on the reasons for this absent third of the population from the political process.

How can they be brought back into active citizenship?

Or are we risking sleepwalking out of democracy?

On Honeymoons Proper

The OBA’s first few weeks as Government have hardly gone smoothly.

They had a complete PR disaster concerning the appointment of Mr Butterfield as a Special Advisor (Spad) to the Minister of Tourism.

For the record, I don’t necessarily have a problem with the appointment; I know Mr Butterfield and I think he certainly has skills and experience which could be utilised by the Ministry.

I do have a problem with Spads being paid from the public purse however.  To me, Spads are political appointments, and thus should be paid out of political party funds.  As far as I know we do not have a ‘Code of Conduct’ for Spads like they do in the UK, and I think this is something we need to address.

I make a distinction between Spads and Consultants.

Consultants are hired to fill a gap in skills/experience/objectivity that the Civil Service may not have, or need on a permanent basis.  They are useful and sometimes definitely needed.  But Consultants should be hired by open tender, and their expenses and reports should be publicly available.

Spads are political appointments, and should not be paid with public monies, imho.

This poor PR management, which dragged on for about two weeks before being somewhat brought under control, has greatly damaged the view of the OBA – it has burned a lot of political capital and invited much more scrutiny onto the OBA than would have been expected so early into their rule.

It has thrust them under a microscope, and the appointments of a Press Secretary, Executive Aide and Chief of Staff have subsequently come under great scrutiny, as will future appointments (some already rumoured about).

And now we find that Mr Cannonier is off to attend Mr Obama’s inauguration today.  This despite Bermuda already being represented by the UK Ambassador there.

Now, I don’t actually have an issue with Mr Cannonier going.

I think it’s good from a networking perspective, but it’s not lost on me (and doubtless others) that the OBA, or its predecessors, were quite vocally critical of similar trips by PLPers.  While much of the criticism may have been justified (especially as relates to first class travel and other frivolous expenses), it is interesting to see how quickly some anti-PLPers are twisting in double-speak to justify the actions of the OBA government.

I say ‘some’ as there are a good number who were critical of both parties, which is good.

And the criticism of the OBA, so early into their rule, is also good.

I think our collective political discourse benefits from a more mature and critical citizenry; we should not let any future Government think it’s business as usual, that the people are going to hold the Government (whoever it is) accountable.

The people are angry, they’re online, and they’re (hopefully) here to stay.

Please see also Denis’s commentary on this issue at 21 Square!

2 thoughts on “Honeymoons & other fictions

  1. Your earlier post expressing dismay for a lack of blogging inspired me to throw up a short post over the inauguration last night.

    As you mention, the OBA has already demonstrated “poor PR management” in their first few weeks in office. I think they’ve done it again with the inauguration.

    Whether or not you agree with the need to send a representative, it will be controversial for those asked to make personal cuts if it isn’t reasonably justified why it is beneficial.

    The Premier should have issued a preemptive statement (blog post perhaps?) identifying why he is choosing to go and what value he sees in it. Then follow up with a post inauguration statement on the results and whether or not it was a successful venture.

    His justification so far is pretty weak and I think they’ll feel the heat for it when it comes to asking people to make sacrifices.

  2. I’ll fit a link to your post to this in a second; welcome back!

    As noted, I think it makes sense to attend, but I think they fumbled the presentation of it, like you state.

    If I was the OBA I would’ve seen this as an opportunity to differentiate from the PLP. Publicise the expenses, highlighting a Business Class air-ticket and a decent medium-priced hotel, and a total cap on travel expenses.

    They wouldn’t need to even mention the PLP; most people would connect the dots and see the OBA’s pro-active statement on costs as a breath of fresh air. And bringing up the First Lady angle is a complete own goal and just going to invite comparisons with Dr Brown’s ‘Presidential’ Premiership.

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