Mickey Mouse Politics?
The Premier has released a statement which largely deflects from the allegations made concerning him, and ignores the facts admitted by himself – that one of his MPs secretly recorded the Opposition Leader and shared that recording with him, and that his business manager for his Esso Tigermarts was part of the Jet Gate party.
Yes, the Premier is right that what we’re seeing is the fruit of politics of division and personal destruction.
However, I think he’s ignoring who planted the seed.
One thing we’re really seeing here is traditional political divisions being reinforced while the swing voters increasingly look on with a mix of disgust and exasperation.
The allegations and facts being pointed out by the PLP are largely being accepted as legitimate by PLPers while OBAers are doing their best to both duck the facts and say the PLP are liars as regards the allegations.
For my part, the allegations (and I will write a post just on those, things are just flying fast and furious right now) largely gel with information I was getting from various sources, including from within the OBA itself, and I am generally inclined to believe them, although I think the exact goings on have yet to be revealed. However, I believe that a serious and in-depth investigation will reveal that the allegations are more true than not.
Nonetheless, the facts alone are serious enough that they should concern us all, and they alone have serious ramifications for Bermuda, particularly for our politics.
The (dis)Honourable Nandi Davis?
To me, the secret recording of a conversation, is, outside of certain situations (molestation, bullying, harassment, law enforcement exceptions under certain criteria), unconscionable. That is, it is conduct that does not ‘conform to the dictates of conscience’ – it is unethical and unscrupulous.
That the tape recording was subsequently handed over to OBA party officials and shared with the Premier, just compounds this.
It seems clear that the very act of secretly recording the Opposition Leader and sharing it with the OBA party officials was an act of calculated ‘politics of personal destruction’. It seems clear that the intent of doing so was to give the OBA certain ammunition they thought they could use to their advantage, towards the ‘personal destruction’ of the Opposition Leader’s credibility.
What’s additionally disappointing about this situation is that the (dis)Honourable Ms Davis was explicitly given the opportunity in the House of Assembly to rebut or clarify the situation. Instead she sat there mute.
I can understand that perhaps she was caught out momentarily. It happens.
However, the discussion on this was for over an hour, more than enough time for her to regain her senses, and she could also have spoken during the Motion to Adjourn, or to the attending media. She failed to do any of that.
Instead, after three days of the OBA engaging in high-level meetings (according to one of the media reports yesterday, but I cannot find it today), the (dis)Honourable Ms Davis suddenly finds her voice and sets out to ‘set the record straight’.
I’m sorry, but having forfeited your right to clarify the issue at the time, her response now looks like spin doctor script – and yeah, I think that’s exactly what it is. I feel that the OBA have been trying to work out some damage control and part of their solution was getting their spin-doctors to give Ms Davis this script.
And after all the hullabaloo about the tape, I side with the Opposition Leader in calling for the tape to be released, something that the OBA seems all of a sudden desperate to avoid – which to me makes me wonder if it actually incriminates Ms Davis in the crimes she was arrested for, but for which the DPP suddenly chose not to pursue.
I want to make clear, I did call for Ms Davis to resign and face a by-election last year when she was arrested. And I called for, at the very least, for the OBA to remove the Whip from her while the investigation proceeded.
The Hypocrisy of the Premier
The Premier himself has engaged in the politics of division and personal destruction numerous times, the most recent being both his December 13th ‘explanation’ for the about face regarding the OBA election promise to hold a referendum on casino gambling and his threats to the PLP that he has access to information so they should be quiet lest he use it.
It’s hard not to associate the now revealed tape of the (dis)Honourable Ms Davis with the Premier’s threats – tantamount to political intimidation and blackmail; indeed, the PLP expressed concern then that the Premier was engaging in ‘the politics of personal destruction’!
Yes, we’ve seen the ‘politics of political division and personal destruction’, but it is a mistake to accuse the PLP of being the sole, or even the worst offenders here.
We have a Government that is engaging in unconscionable acts of secret recordings, political intimidation and blatant disregard for the Ministerial Code of Conduct and general best practice of good governance.
The Premier doesn’t exactly have a leg to stand on here when throwing around accusations of ‘politics of division and personal destruction’.
The (dis)Honourable MP Davis increasingly lacks credibility or even basic ethics, already questionable due to ongoing questions regarding her arrest last year.
The Minister of Tourism has used public monies to produce a political strategy brief to successfully ditch the referendum on casino gambling (use of public monies for political purposes is a breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct) and has actively mislead Parliament as to the nature of that Gambling Brief No 1 – which is grounds for resignation under the Ministerial Code of Conduct (and all the more curious as it’s available to the public here, so it seems bizarre he thinks he can keep misleading Parliament and the people).
The Premier, the AG and the Minister of Tourism have broken quite a few aspects of the Ministerial Code of Conduct, especially with the added revelation of the Premier’s business manager also accompanying them on the Jet Gate trip.
So, yeah, where’s the OBA’s promise to introduce a right of recall vote for MPs?
And will the OBA seek to deal with the liabilities that are the Premier, the AG, the Minister for Tourism and Transport and MP Davis? Or will they close ranks and just seek to lash out instead?
The saddest thing is that the actions of the OBA, based solely on the confirmed facts and not even touching the allegations, have acted in a way that greatly erodes trust.
We now have a situation where no one can any longer feel comfortable having private conversations without being worried about being recorded.
And we have a situation where three top politicians have engaged in actions which either display them as amateurish incompetents or amateurish corrupt politicians (and with the revelation of the fourth passenger on the flight, the latter seems increasingly more likely).
Former OBA Leader John Barritt wrote some time ago about the OBA risking a trust deficit, and that sentiment was echoed again in the HoA last Friday.
It seems increasingly difficult to have any trust in the OBA anymore, especially as regards having confidence in the Premier.
It seems that in the electorates haste to vote against a PLP that had lost its way we instead ushered in an OBA that was not deserving of our trust, that was not competent to govern, and may even have been worse than the ‘devil we knew’.