This second PLP win at the polls marks the real turning point in Bermuda’s 394 year social history.
In November 1998, when the PLP won its first election, Bermuda’s majority population reached the level of maturity that showed that it was ready to take charge of its own affairs, make its own decisions, and carry its own responsibility. This time around, those three factors were back in the mix and once again, Bermuda’s majority made a conscious decision.
There will be many other next times.
Five years from now, the question of who will be elected will be more wide open. The electorate will be more sophisticated. In the new 1,200 voter single seat constituencies, brighter ‘sparks’ will realize that a Parliamentary seat can be won by garnering a mere 350 – 400 votes. Provided, of course, that diehard PLP’ers and till-death-do-us-part UBP’ers insist on still voting their party lines.
Now, in 2003 and into the future, the world can see that Bermuda has moved from a benign oligarchy to democracy. Even us Bermudians can now see that rule by majority is here.
That’s the real impact of this election win.
Berkeley? BHC? Drugs? Crime? Buzzwords for political campaign planners. Not real issues. The real issue was always beneath the skin. That’s the Bermuda reality.
What now for the PLP?
The PLP must change. If Bermuda is to remain a successful national entity in a world of big superpower ‘bruisers’, then Bermuda’s whole population must become involved in those issues that are of real national importance. What are these real issues?
Immigration and work opportunities. Education and work opportunities. Housing availability and mechanisms for achieving that. Safeguards for our total Bermuda social and natural environment. National alignment with International bodies – CARICOM? OECD? EU? Independence?
For the future, the PLP’s old style of decision making in relative seclusion must change to decision making moved to the wide open halls of a broader public forum. For this the PLP needs to look at its methods for engendering the style and quality of debate that the country needs; and for how it can encourage yet still manage that debate.
For this, I believe that the PLP needs to alter its style of national leadership. The current leader group must alter its styles in order to better lead this more mature nation into the new ‘e-world’ that’s emerging from our PC’s, cellphones, and TV’s.
For the party, the joined positions and tasks of Party Leader and Leader of the Government must be separated. One is a task for a shirt-sleeved visored ‘apparatchik’. The other for a national Leader. One requires attention to picky and mundane detail. The other requires broad forward vision and wide strategic insight. One is world stage. The other is back office.
Going into this new ‘e-world’ this densely populated but isolated coral atoll needs good forward vision and farsighted management. We – all of us Bermudians – have a very delicate balance that we all need to understand and have to help maintain.