The PLP seems intent on making Reverend Tweed’s work permit issue a political one. They’ve attempted to frame it as the OBA abusing the system, being unfair and targeting the issue for political gain. The thing is, those claims don’t hold a great deal of weight and the framing is weak. The evidence seems to weigh heavily against Reverend Tweed and the AME church that immigration policy was not only not followed, but flouted. It seems like a questionable political move as while it might rally staunch supporters it could weaken their case with crucial swing voters.
Usually the PLP dominates on framing issues which is why this is such an odd case. Those in support of Reverend Tweed seem desperate to paint the OBA as politically meddling but are those claims sticking? The government has regularly and clearly stated that the AME church did not follow the procedure that everyone else is subject to. The Church has yet to provide any evidence that they followed immigration policy. These very same groups complaining now were months ago obstructing parliament calling for more immigration control and expressing opposition to proposed immigration changes that very well could have benefited individuals like Reverend Tweed. It’s an incredibly hypocritical stance to turn around and suggest that special concessions should be made while at the same time saying that Bermudians should come first.
The OBA’s framing this time around is pretty solid. Immigration policy wasn’t followed and if the AME church wants the work permit granted they must follow policy and advertise the position to ensure no qualified Bermudians are available to take the role. It’s a hard case to argue against. Certainly the PLP can succeed in rallying diehard supporters to take up arms (figuratively speaking) for the cause. However, struggling middle class swing voters will be wondering “whats in this for me”?
Reverend Tweed isn’t a Bermudian and spent the vast majority of his life living elsewhere not investing in the island or trying to obtain status. He opposed legislation to support individuals like him having claims to Bermudian status. Sure he might be “the people’s champion” for some, but really, are we then admitting a Bermudian isn’t capable of leading such a cause and we need some foreigner to come in to save the day? What about putting struggling Bermudians first? Wasn’t that a great source of much of the angst in the recent demonstrations? That Bermudians are coming last? Why should we support an employer who has openly flouted immigration policy and expects special treatment. What, if anything, does a swing voter gain getting behind this issue?
One really has to wonder what the PLP aims to gain here. It seems obvious that if the AME Church followed immigration policy and there was no qualified Bermudian that Reverend Tweed would have his work permit approved. Trying to paint it otherwise makes it seem like there is an assumption that the people are too stupid to figure this out. Why take the risk, especially when the OBA could, albeit unlikely, up their rhetorical game and start attacking the many glaring holes in the whole situation? Certainly before they had the upper hand with the whole airport deal it might have been worth it, but now?