With Jonathan’s latest response over at Catch A Fire with regards to our back and forth I’m left wondering if we have different definitions of what it would mean for the UBP to ‘disband’. In my view I see the hypothetical UBP’s dissolution as conforming to one of 3 scenarios.
- Scenario A: The UBP disbands completely, all present and former representatives go off into the blue yonder to leave their seats up for grabs never again to set foot in the Bermudian political arena. I give the likelihood of Scenario A occurring a resounding 0%.
- Scenario B: The UBP disbands into independent candidates representing themselves and not affiliated to any party. The UBP as an organization disappears into the blue yonder. This happens to be my favored scenario and the one I feel is most likely as whether the party does it all at once or slowly and painstakingly loses members one by one I have yet to see any indication that the party will be able to reinvigorate itself with new talent. Thus I give this scenario the likelihood of 50%
- Scenario C: The UBP disbands and former members work together to form a new party or parties. This scenario I suspect may be closest to Jonathan’s definition though I also suspect that if it were to occur it would have already. The rebel/reform faction within the UBP had ample opportunity to split off and form a new party and it seems that since they have not done so those individuals are slowly going independent. While it is still possible to occur any new movement will have trouble gaining credibility and will likely maintain the UBP branding with whatever new name they produce. I’d stake this one at a 40% likelihood
- Scenario D: The UBP doesn’t disband, manages to reinvigorate themselves, gain new talent and challenge well in the next election. Similar to scenario B only instead of reaching an untimely demise through slowly bleeding out they achieve the impossible and heal like they’re wolverine. Sorry UBP, I just don’t put a lot of faith in this scenario so I peg it at 10% likelihood.
Ok, so now that we’ve defined things let’s go back to Jonathan’s assertions. As suggested, I suspect his expectation is that scenario C has the highest likelihood. In that case I would tend to agree with him that we would likely find ourselves with a reformed (UBP’s new clothes) UBP and possibly a new upstart which either together would end up fighting over the UBP support base or one would suffer the UBP stigma while the other has the potential to flourish by attracting support from both sides. My thought would rest on the composition of those parties and their ties to the UBP. If the upstart had no ties to the UBP, wide representation and represented those things neither party will actually pursue (direct democracy?) it may have a fighting chance, especially if it pursued the strategy I outlined in my Minority Governance post.
So now that we’ve covered scenario C, lets look at the others. Scenario D is very similar and could be considered the same only the UBP doesn’t try to play peek-a-boo with the public hiding behind a new name.
Scenario A is absolute absurd and does a disservice to those people who have worked very hard to try to make a difference in our community through public service. The individual contributions of people should not be so readily forgotten.
Finally we get to Scenario B which I see as happening in one of two forms. Either the UBP disbands into independents as a collective decision or they do so piecemeal. If they do so as a collective decision it could be leveraged as a strength for Bermuda’s future. It would free each MP to represent themselves and eliminate the party line. While the collective group could still be cast under the UBP shadow it would be tougher for some than others like it has been for Wayne Furbert, who now votes purely on conscience and it’s been readily apparent. It would subsequently free new individuals to stand given that the UBP would not collectively work to try to fill every constituency with a candidate and would allow for greater competition. Multiple independents including possibly a new non-UBP linked party challenging PLP marginal's with no UBP candidate contesting could change the game as anti-UBP voters would no longer be voting against the UBP and would be presented with multiple options which may encourage them to vote based upon the issues.
It is ultimately hard to say which way things would go nor how things would truly play out as it is all speculation. Despite this, regardless of whether the UBP disbands or doesn’t disband it is my belief that the strongest case that could be made by individuals looking to form an alternative would be to do so as one that severely limits involvement of individuals with heavy ties to the UBP or PLP and pursues the route I’ve suggested in my piece on Minority Governance. Regardless of the scenario it is my belief that such a group would have the best case to change our political landscape for the better.