SAGE Commission Survey
I’m actually quite impressed that they released it fully, including all the comments, positive and negative, that respondents made.
It’s a very transparent move, and one which I’m sure will make some interesting reading.
Personally, I would have loved to have been able to take more demographic data and do an analysis of the results, seeing what correlations, if any, appeared, but that’s by the by.
Reading through the answers (and there were a total of 100 respondents that I can see), a couple of things seem to stand out:
1) There’s a definite trend of people who have a strong belief that because the SAGE Commission is made up largely of ‘successful’ businessmen, especially the Chair, Brian Duppereault, they are ideal for the job; that because they are successful, the SAGE Commission will be successful and their recommendations will be good, simply because of who they are. I personally would dispute this belief, I find its logic is flawed, but it does go some way to indicate that there remains, in Bermuda, a distinct trend to hold businessmen in a very positive light.
2) There appears to be a growing number of people who, based on their comments are ‘traditional’ OBA voters, or, at least, voted OBA in the election, who are becoming frustrated with the OBA, believing they are increasingly failing to address ‘the issues’ and are going to be a ‘one-term government’ – and a ‘lame duck’ one at that. Now, based on my, albeit cursory, reading of the comments of this nature these individuals are feeling that the OBA is taking too soft an approach to austerity and dealing with the unions. That is, they are quite right-wing, pro-austerity and pro-privatisation.
Pulling in different directions?
This latter observation is particularly interesting, in terms of what it may mean for the OBA, internally.
The UBP before it had a number of tendencies within it, one of which was a largely upper-middle class White tendency that was generally more right-wing, more gung-ho uber-capitalist ‘Thatcherite’ – or libertarian capitalist – than other tendencies of the UBP.
The more ‘oligarchic’ or ‘aristocratic’ elements of the UBP tended to be more paternalistic and took a more long-term view of politics, calling for co-opting over confrontation – carefully crafting the superficial image of racial diversity for example.
It would seem that a similar dynamic is at play within the OBA today, and it is likely that this will seek to pull the OBA further to the right, to a more pro-austerity and privatisation approach.
With already existing fractures within the OBA framed loosely around the BDA-UBP axis, along with ‘new OBAers’ – those who joined the OBA after it came into existence, honestly believing it to be something novel – one imagines it will be difficult accommodating all these different pressures. My prediction is that we’ll see some sacrificial lambs before long, even a cabinet shuffle (if not a leadership challenge).
Self-Selecting? Right & Left
Of course, the small sample size (100 respondents) makes it very dangerous to draw firm conclusions like those above.
It is quite likely that the SAGE survey was always going to be self-selecting, in the sense that those motivated to complete it (or even aware of it) were going to be those more pro-austerity and pro-privatisation.
These would see the survey as an attempt to express their impatience with the current situation and to advocate for greater austerity and privatisation.
In addition to attracting right-wingers it was also going to attract some of the opposite, those ideologically driven to oppose austerity and privatisation, who see the SAGE Commission as a potential ‘Trojan horse’ of austerity and privatisation.
These individuals would then see the survey as an opportunity to challenge that, to offer a counter-narrative – the exact opposite of the ideologically driven right-wing respondents.
As an aside, while the comments are all anonymous, anyone interested in my own comments can trawl through the comments looking for them. I completed the survey on August 24th at around 1500-1505hrs. If I have the time, later, I’ll copy and paste my comments in a future post – and seek to expand on them, the reasoning behind them.