As was perhaps rather predictable, the online response (on Facebook threads) largely divided along our tribal political lines.
PLPers effectively circled the wagons and attacked rather than considered the overall picture while anti-PLPers/OBAers (though much less engagement with it publicly, though through some personal messages from three commentators) accused it of being too pro-PLP.
While PLPers may dispute this or that aspect of my argument, the facts remain that:
- The PLP has made two massive strategic blunders that have allowed the OBA to remain in power and undermine the integrity of both parliament and the Ministerial Code of Conduct.
- The current PLP Leader has presided over an approximate 39% decline in party membership. Regardless of the explanation for this decline (and I agree it’s multi-faceted), such a decline is catastrophic and the Party seems more intent on burying its head in the sand than confronting this reality.
- The current PLP Leader has a tendency for reckless actions and language which for swing voters undermines his credibility as a potential Premier and alienates this crucial voting bloc.
I’ll concede I should not have labeled Mr Bean as misogynistic.
There is insufficient public record to justify that of late, and the term itself can be easily misunderstood. Alternate terms such as a patriachal heterosexist or, simply, a male chauvinist may be more appropriate, and are alluded to in his comments regarding homosexuality and tendency to use colourful language such as ‘ladies of the night’.
Without being able to cite a public transcript of his conversation with MP Davis or Ms Daniels however it is not possible to point to how those incidents allegedly portray him as a misogynist, and as such it was inappropriate for me to have so described the Opposition Leader.
I stand by my comments that there is a misogynistic or, rather, male chauvinist, faction within the PLP, and that this tendency has been a factor in the challenges faced by the PLP’s female leaders historically, be it the late Lois Browne-Evans (culminating in the NLP schism), Jennifer Smith (culminating in the 2003 ‘palace coup’) and under Paula Cox. Proving this is, of course, rather difficult, although allusions have been made by others in the past.
The need for correction…
All that notwithstanding, Mr Bean and his MPs and PLP members should be cognisant of how his choice of language and handling of interactions with MP Davis and Ms Daniels appear counter-productive and reckless and will have consequences for the PLP as a viable Government-in-waiting.
It is frankly not enough for the PLP to simply benefit from the OBA’s mistakes. The PLP need to demonstrate their competence and give voters, particularly swing voters, confidence in them as a viable alternative administration.
Circling the proverbial wagons and ignoring the three key problems outlined above does a disservice to the legacy of the PLP and a disservice to the people of Bermuda who deserve a strong Opposition and a viable alternative to the OBA.
Mr Bean’s latest incident just highlights a tendency that, in light of strategic blunders and a massive membership decline, must ask questions of his leadership and whether he can overcome them – or what the consequences of failing to overcome them mean for the PLP come the next election.
PLPers can attack me for pointing out the challenges their Party and Leader face and have made for themselves all they want, but it won’t resolve those challenges.
Anti-PLPers/OBAers can attack me all they want too, it matters little to me. They would benefit their Party and the country more by holding their Government to account and not resorting into the tribalistic reflex of excusing the OBAs own shortcomings and hypocrisies.
Right now both political parties are doing a disservice to Bermuda and we’re all paying the price for it in both the short and long terms.
Our democratic institutions have been shown to be weak and open to manipulation, while sacred commitments to the electorate proven meaningless.
And yet, due to the complete polarisation of our society, we focus too much on petty minutiae rather than wider institutional failings, allowing our politicians, from both sides, get away with incompetence and scandals that in other countries with more robust institutions and political maturity would have brought down governments.