Jonathan over at Catch A Fire has responded to my earlier post suggesting that it would be difficult for a new party to form without essentially becoming a relabeled UBP if the UBP were to disband. I cannot say I agree with him in this regard. In my belief the primary reason for the UBP to disband would be to cause a rift within the PLP. With ‘glue’ that holds the PLP together gone, the various factions within the PLP would no longer be held together on the premise of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. This would likely cause a split as these factions now unopposed begin to turn on each other and likely would divide into two parties. The NLP is not an adequate guide simply because that was a split from the opposition, not the leading party. Had the NLP been formed out of the incumbent UBP of the time, things may have turned out very differently. A split in the PLP with an extinct UBP would leave the good elements of the PLP the ability to leverage off of the former UBP support base. In truth however it is obvious that the UBP won’t disband and is far more likely to die a very slow death as as sitting MPs break off to be independent and they fail to rejuvenate themselves into being able to attract strong new talent.
Jonathan’s musings suggest that for new parties to be successful they need to have a platform that radically departs from what exists today. In a way I agree but in another I disagree. I believe a new party only needs to be successful enough to cause a minority government and needs to champion that cause while appealing to hope. A minority government is what Bermuda needs most, whether it comes from the PLP dividing into two parties and allowing new parties to form, a new party forming in our present political climate or a group of strong independent candidates rising up.
In the case of our present climate a new party or independents would need to set itself apart as not being the UBP’s or PLP’s puppet by doing what the present parties refuse to do. It would need to pledge to take the power of government out of the hands of the politicians and place it in the hands of the people. It would need to appeal to the youth who are presently very disillusioned and marginalized by the present parties composed of relics from an aged passed and it would need to offer hope to the middle class swing voters that both present parties rely on to win.
In order to have a fighting chance it would need to convince those swing voters that both the UBP and PLP have proven ineffective in solving our economic and social issues. Neither have successfully solved both issues together. Thus, it would need to be championed that regardless whether you vote for the UBP or PLP your vote will be wasted as the status quo will not change. Whomever gets elected to power will remain unaccountable, corrupt and put the interests of the party before that of the people. That is the product of a majority government and could even be the result if a new party were to win the majority. Indeed power corrupts just as they say and only the ignorant believe that they cannot be corrupted when given power absolute.
A party rising to this challenge would need a strong, charismatic and empowering leadership that could rally people behind this message and convince enough that voting for a new party is the best way to send a message to our present relics that their time is up. The party would subsequently need to focus heavily on marginals and aim to pick up enough seats to control the balance of power. It may even be best minded to not challenge UBP or PLP strongholds and only the marginals on the premise that it’s intention is to win a minority government and not necessarily be the ones holding a majority. It would not need to be the incumbent nor would it need to be the opposition and this would buy credibility against claims of a lack of experience. It would simply have to hold enough seats that the incumbent did not hold a majority government. A minority government is what Bermuda needs most and we’re seeing elements of it with the disillusioned MPs of the PLP forcing Premier Brown to smarten up.
Few would disagree that the biggest problem facing Bermuda is not one party or another but our political system. It was designed for a different era and a different style of politics, one which has not proven to work here. What we need is transparency, accountability, good governance and most importantly a stick which can be used to beat politicans who step out of line. A minority government would be that stick. It would force the incumbent to be accountable, to debate their cause and prove their reasoning. It would empower both the incumbent and the opposition to do their jobs, to truly work together rather than against each other in the interests of a better Bermuda. Best of all, it would not require experience on the part of a new party and instead only enough wisdom and sound reasoning to be able to side with the interests of Bermuda and its people before all else.