Photo by Nigel Regan.
Premier Ewart Brown and his wife Wanda were all smiles when they arrived at Alaska Hall last night. “I feel absolutely wonderful,” he said.
Photo by Nigel Regan. Premier Ewart Brown and his wife Wanda were all smiles when they arrived at Alaska Hall last night. “I feel absolutely wonderful,” he said.
This win by the PLP may result in some increased frictions with the International Business sector that actually operates in Bermuda; and may show further slippage into a more xenophobic society.

Or it could show a government that will deal successfully with Bermuda's deepest and most important problem.

The outgoing PLP parliamentary group has been replaced by a group with a different human balance. This new group seems, at the moment, more 'brown' than the typical PLP of the past. Unless there is a distinct shift from the rhetoric of the campaign, this new balance may result in a further inwards turn towards legislation and regulation that offers more protection for what some people feel are special Bermudian

interests.

Legislation of this kind has already shown up in the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 2007 that limited the property buying rights of foreign-born spouses of Bermudians; and in the demands raised by the requirements of the proposed Workplace Equity Act.

The PLP is certainly pro-Bermudian. Its proposed Workplace Equity Act may even be showing an overweening regard for black Bermudians with a parallel and lesser regard for white Bermudians.

This new PLP Parliamentary group, unless checked by Parliamentary process and Constitutional safeguards, may show an even greater tendency to try to enhance, by regulation and legislation, what it seems to see as the lesser position - in Bermuda - of black Bermudians.

In the neutral world of everyday business and normal social relations, this kind of philosophical and economic value shift, though acceptable to core PLP supporters, is likely to increase the level of irritation and complication already being experienced by some members of Bermuda's highly mobile International Business community.

Is the PLP anti-business? It is not. The PLP is made up of hundreds of members who are strongly capitalistic. Taxi-drivers. Small and middle-size landlords. Small business owners. Self-employed people. Members of labour unions. medical and legal and accounting professionals.

The PLP, however, remains a political party that, for the time being, still has over ninety per cent black membership in a community where the national racial balance is 40 per cent white and 60 per cent black.

Going forward, until the next election, the biggest issue is whether or not the PLP will have the political smarts as well as the national maturity to serve both of its two masters.

The first master? The PLP's band of supporters who returned it to power.

The second master? Bermuda's increasingly complex socio-economic mechanism that is so delicately balanced on an ever-tightening high-wire of global competition and that is still growing and still silently and invisibly creating greater social pressures; and is the real Bermuda in which all Bermudians and non-Bermudian workers must live and work.

Leading up to this PLP win, the raucous voices calling for such strong black support for the PLP were the voices of those Bermudians - black at that - who often said that they were feeling the effects of being shut-out or kept out of what they see as an economy that is 'booming' past them.

The dragging chain - I actually see it more as a ticking bomb - around the PLP's neck is Bermuda's under-performing education system. The chain-cutting - which I see as a bomb defusing - that must take place is that Bermuda's national education system must be rapidly reformed and improved. At the same time, the PLP must keep a cap on the social pressure that is steadily building and growing as Bermuda continues TOM'ing(*).

Courage

Will this new PLP governing group have the courage to tackle and fix public education? If they don't tackle it and show clear progress within the next twelve months, their window of opportunity will begin shutting down and Bermuda will slide further towards that moment when the TOMs revolt.

It's not that the TOMs are bad. It's simply that this is what happens when any group that feels itself to be disadvantaged expands, reaches critical mass, and reacts against the 'establishment'. Us black Bermudians reacted in 1968, in 1973, and again in 1977. Then, the 'establishment' was 'white' and UBP. Then, the disturbances were easily written off as a purely racial matter.

Now, with a ten year old fourth-term PLP regime, Bermuda 's establishment is 'black' and PLP. Any future revolt will be for exactly the same basic reason as in 1968, 1973, 1977. It will be the angry striking out of people who feel that they are unfairly disadvantaged by the 'establishment' of the day. By December 2008, all Bermuda will know, if Bermuda is heading towards some kind of near-term social explosion; or whether Bermuda has found the fuse and has begun dismantling the TOM bomb. Within five years, this TOM issue will define, and define absolutely, this PLP government's real worth and true value. n

(*) TOM - Tossed Out Male. Black (and an increasing number of white) males who have been tossed out of Bermuda's educating systems and who have increasing difficulty fitting themselves into Bermuda's growing yet narrowing service and skill-based economy.