I’m going to try and catch two fish with one hook here – I’m going to look at two articles in the Bermudian news media today and give some quick reflections on them (and some of the online responses to them).
“Austerity ideology is aimed at workers”
I’ll begin with a plug for the article written by myself.
The article is designed as a direct reply to an earlier article by Mr Robert Stewart, who provides the neoliberal ideological counterpoint to my Marxist/socialist opinion pieces in the media. Mr Stewart wrote a two-part series two weeks ago where he (from my reading) focused on three core issues:
- The role of the State (in terms of taxation) under capitalism
- The imperative of austerity
- The welfare question
My original plan for the response was to address each of these separately, and add a fourth article which would look at the role of the State for workers, and outline some mild socialistic reforms we could adopt now. As it turned out, I combined the first two into a single article, and (hopefully) my article on welfare will come out in tomorrow’s RG.
As I’m in the middle of moving house and completing my PhD, I haven’t had the opportunity to do more than a draft outline for the third article (a workers State and mild socialist reforms) – though I might address that in the future if I have the time.
In hindsight I think I should’ve kept the role of the State and the austerity ideology as two separate articles. The combined article is longer than I prefer (I generally aim for 600-800 words as a rule of thumb, this one’s about 1000 words), and as it deals with some complex abstract matters, I recognise it might be a bit of a hard read. Nonetheless, I hope it contributes to raising the level of discussion.
“Sources: Move to topple Bean as PLP Leader”
It makes for some interesting reading, however it suffers very much from a ‘boy that cried wolf’ situation. This is hardly the first time that the RG has ran a story using unnamed sources to portray the PLP as being in the midst of a factional crisis concerning the Leadership. It did this over Arthur Hodgson versus Jennifer Smith, and, ever since the actions of the 2003 election night, it’s discussed various aspects of Brownites versus Smithites/Coxites.
The RG – rightly or wrongly – is seen as very much an anti-PLP paper editorially, and with its track record of hyping up internal division within the PLP (I get it, sensationalism and political intrigue sells papers), is largely going to be seen (at least by PLPers) as engaging in mischief making here. I’m sure anti-PLPers will seize on it along the lines of ‘PLP’s in meltdown!’, just as they did when the PLP chose to abstain from the illegitimate vote to temporarily expel Mr Bean from the House of Assembly.
My own view of Mr Bean’s Leadership has been articulated previously – I appreciate his outspokenness, but question his approach to strategy and tactics, I strongly oppose his views on some social issues (homosexuality) while support other aspects of his views (marijuana, for the most part), but largely feel he has become a liability to the PLP electorally with some of his language choices and actions. I also took issue with his calls for shifting the PLP to the right and away from its traditional pro-worker position.
My own reading of the situation is that there is some discomfort with the Leader (this is no secret), but I don’t feel the PLP is in crisis on this issue.
I think the membership should rightly be considering the next election and the direction they want the party to go, and how to best position itself, and this does necessarily bring up the issue of the Leadership. Although I’m not currently a member of the PLP, and haven’t been since I let my membership run out in 2009, I trust the membership to be able to have a mature and rational discussion about these issues.
I do have my concerns about the viability of aspects of the party structure to adequately facilitate these conversations – but I never saw, nor do I see, any discussions about the pros and cons of this or that Leader or ideological direction as representative of a party in crisis. If anything I always saw it as representative of a party comfortable enough to take a good hard look at itself and plan ahead. I didn’t/don’t always agree with the decisions and rationale behind them, but that’s another matter.
I do think it was a mistake to elect a Leader so quickly after the 2012 defeat. I think it would have been better for the then Deputy Leader (Derrick Burgess) to maintain a stable caretaker leadership while the membership spent time being canvassed and engaged in a full-on leadership election campaign, where leadership candidates could be questioned and forced to flesh out their positions. Perhaps this is something the PLP should consider going forward, and making the necessary constitutional amendments.
If there is to be a Leadership change in the PLP though, I would implore the members to abide by their constitution. While the constitution sets out a timetable for when there have to be a leadership election (like in 2014 and next scheduled for 2018), it also allows for a leadership election to be triggered via a special delegates conference, or by a regular delegates conference (provided certain procedures are followed).
The Constitution was largely breached (in my view) by the events of 2003, and this led to some of the challenges the PLP had subsequently. There is no need to similarly breach the constitution here – although the constitution itself could perhaps be improved still (and it should be living document anyway, as per it’s own writing).