My cousin made a brilliant remark and observation the other night. You see, Bermuda political parties have this rather odd quirk about them that they expect you to join the party to actually understand what they're about. They're not interested in spreading their information and philosophy in the public realm and expect you to join on the basis of who the party is before you get to appreciate what they stand for. My cousin's solution? He's going to join all 3 of them.
Bermuda politics is frankly a bit ridiculous. Look over to Jonathan Starling's Catch a Fire blog and you can often find the claims of the PLP commenters there that he's wrong to be relying on information publicly available and should be seeking out the people in the know and having personal conversations with them to 'educate' himself on the truth. Often times people are accused of relying on information available in the public domain which is deemed as false and inaccurate and yet no alternative exists except for the much suggested "join the party so you can be properly informed". It isn't just limited to the PLP, it seems like all parties act in this manner.
While there was hope that Bermuda's newest party the Bermuda Democratic Alliance would be different, in this regard they seem to be taking a similar tack. Upon commenting on the lack of information available for public consumption the overwhelming response from party supporters was that one should join to find out. Why? Why does one need to join a party to appreciate what they stand for? It doesn't make any sense.
An interesting recent example is available on Bermuda is Another World where BDA's defacto representative Full Fullish claims:
Immediately after the party conference we sent out our draft constitution to ALL members for their comment and feed back before ratifing it, all members now have a very active way to not only know how the party works, but has an immediate and direct mechanism for defining those processes.
This is excellent that they're involving their members but SmokingGun counters and hits it right on the money by claiming that such information should be publicly released if the party truly wants to make new waves in Bermuda politics:
You guys want to be different. Be different. Make it so no-one has to be a "member" before they get a complete and honest understanding of what you stand for. You want people's input, make it easy for them. Don't be afraid to operate in the open from the outset.
This outlines a major point of contention for many sitting on the sidelines with respect to the new party. The party has been quick to claim that they represent "change" and "a better way" and fundamentally believe in transparency to their core but aren't delivering on the kinds of expectations that people hold. Many want to see transparency reflected in not only government but also party dealings. Now admittedly there will always be a need for a small segment of information to be kept under wraps, however every attempt should be made to make as much information as transparent as possible with secretive information being as rare and unnecessary as possible. Information sent to an entire membership base simply doesn't need to fall under this kind of classification nor does most of the other information related to a party.
It shouldn't be much of a surprise if the legacy parties don't bother to up their transparency but it is a bit of a surprise to not be seeing the kind of change with our newest party. Many were honestly expecting that it is what was meant by "transparency" and are frankly left disappointed. As has been said many times on this blog in the past, what we most need to see from those in opposition is for them to be the change, not preach it.