Simply PLP or OBA
Yesterday was nomination day for the Constituency #33 by-election, and as a result it is now confirmed that this by-election will be a straight-up two horse race, contested solely between the two political parties, the PLP and the OBA.
I’d hoped that an Independent would put their name forward, or that one of the various proposed 3rd parties being mooted in hushed conversations would take advantage of this opportunity to launch. I’d even wondered if Terry Lister’s sudden retirement was actually a ruse for him launching the 3rd party he himself had proposed, and so give his defection from the PLP legitimacy.
As one of the Independent candidates in the 2012 election I was approached by a few constituents in #33 to run there, however I am not familiar enough with the constituency, nor in a position to put myself forward right now. I did offer to assist them if one of them wanted to run – giving them advice from my experiences and perhaps even canvassing support, as well as platform help – but I didn’t hear back from them.
I believe both candidates are strong, and I’ve touched on this in an earlier post.
I believe the PLP will win this seat, but with a reduced majority – partly as a result of the OBA putting forward a strong candidate, partly due to the self-inflicted image problem the PLP candidate needs to overcome, partly due to by-elections having lower turn-outs than general elections.
And in that, I don’t think one can look at this by-election as a referendum on either the PLP or the OBA. I don’t think there’s any lessons one will be able to draw from it for the next election, although I’m sure the parties will try to spin it this way or that all the same.
A strong Opposition leads to a better Government?
From a purely political perspective, and disregarding the personal pros and cons of the individual candidates, I think a PLP victory – reducing the overall majority of the Government – would be the healthier result for our democracy. It would, by sheer force of numbers, force the Government to be more accountable and help hold their feet to the fire.
Will it make parliament somewhat unstable? Perhaps. However that also heightens the dynamics of parliament and should ensure that both parties are on their toes and on the ball.
It will lead to a strong Opposition and a Government that needs all its MPs to be present and operating at full caliber.
It may well mean that the Government cannot be complacent, but surely that’s a good thing?
For me, a stronger Opposition forces the Government to become better and more accountable. And it may just force through the political reforms we need, like fixed-term elections, right-of-recall and campaign finance reform…
As to the individual candidates themselves, and the negative campaigning that’s already going on, I think Beachlime captured that quite well.
Going by the online comments though, on Bernews and the RG, it is the PLP candidate who is the victim of personal attacks so far, be it on his character or his very appearance. It’s all very kindergarten and disappointing – and it seems as if the OBA canvassers are also engaging in a degree of this too.
This is disappointing.
I would hope that the by-election would focus on both the needs of the constituents and on a positive reason for either strengthening the Opposition or the Government and helping overcome the negative and toxic politics that we’ve descended to.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not calling for some sort of political kumbaya. I don’t believe in that, nor do I think it would be a particularly good thing to have.
What I would like to see though is a political discourse that focused more on policies and strengthening our democracy and its institutions, that revived what politics should be about at its best, a positive vision for our people, rather than retreating into juvenile personal attacks and political tribalism.