Speaking with people about the days when the PLP were first elected, many suggest that one of the worst tactics that the UBP, or at least their supporters, used in the run up to elections was the boogeyman defense. That being that rather than base their election campaigns on the merits of being able to manage the country better than their opponents, the UBP, or at least many UBP supporters, resorted to the tactic of suggesting that the election of the PLP would result in the mass exodus of international business and the collapse of the Bermudian economy, otherwise known as the ‘boogeyman’.
Some 9 years later, with a PLP government no less, there has been no collapse and no exodus. The Bermudian economy has not only remained strong, in some ways it may be too strong as we have witnessed rampant growth that has introduced other problems. While the PLP government has not been a perfect one, no government can be and the supposed ‘boogeyman’ of pre-1998 has not materialized. This is why it was incredibly surprising to read in today’s paper that the Premier has suggested that he is wary of the Opposition’s intentions and their election could mean a return to the days of the “40 thieves”.
Only months ago, had you asked any random person on the street what you thought the prospects were for the next election they likely would have told you that the PLP was a heavy favorite. My how things have changed since then. We’ve seen many revelations over the past weeks including damning allegations against specific members of the PLP including Premier Brown himself being accused of corruption and abuse of power which amount to theft from the public purse. While it has not become clear whether the allegations are founded in any form of truth, Premier Brown’s actions over the past few weeks have raised the suspicions of many who otherwise wouldn’t even have noticed.
What of these “40 thieves”? What should we watch out for? Will they do such dastardly things as steal cedar beams from government buildings? How about swindle the foundation responsible for housing Bermuda’s misfortunate? Certainly we’ve developed too much of a culture of entitlement to deserve affordable housing? Are the 40 thieves going to do even worse deeds?
Perhaps we should recollect the story of Ali Baba, the origin of the “40 thieves” reference. Was it not Cassim, Ali Baba’s rich brother, who went into the cave of the “40 Thieves” to take some of the treasure for himself? Who, in the height of his greed and excitement, forgot the magic words to get back out? No matter how many attempts, phrases like “gag order” and “exonerated” just didn’t seem to work.
So now the PLP have gone from being the clear leader in the next election to being questionably ahead (yet to be confirmed by recent polls). Premier Brown has resorted to bringing out the same boogeyman tactic that the UBP is supposed to have used as a means to sway support away from the UBP. Here we have it. History is repeating itself. What a sad sight it is that the PLP has to reduce themselves to such tactics which adds credence to the suggestion that the PLP is little different than the UBP when they were in power.
Citizens beware. The boogeyman is back.