When voters were asked, several weeks ago, who they'd vote for if a general election was called immediately, the results showed that the United Bermuda Party would suffer its third consecutive electoral defeat.

The poll, carried out by Research Innovations, also identified the chief reason why that outcome was likely, by way of a growing trend that has up until now, elicited little or no discussion.

As we come to grips with the comments this week of MP Jamahl Simmons and David Dunkley, a long time black UBP operative, the polling data, serving as a companion piece to their revelations, reveals that only approximately eight per cent of black Bermudian voters are prepared at this juncture to support the UBP; perhaps an historical low for that political organization.

The key factor for this in my view - somewhat effectively articulated by Mr. Simmons - is that most white Bermudians continue to practise an informal, local style of apartheid, in the areas of social, economic and in this case, political affairs - which an overwhelming majority of black Bermudians find unacceptable and increasingly, even abhorrent.

The Opposition Leader, Wayne Furbert, in his usual role of apologist, has strenuously denied the claims and assertions put forward by Simmons and Dunkley with respect to the dominant role still played by whites within the UBP and the inherent racism that they claim is still very much a neglected feature of that political organization.

Mr. Simmons's comments, so eloquently conveyed during his press conference on this topic, were profound. He stated among other things, that "today the United Bermuda Party stands revealed as a party where whites can engage in threats, intimidation and economic terrorism against blacks with impunity."

Turning his attention to Mr. Furbert, the party leader, Mr. Simmons was unsparing in his condemnation, with his view that Mr. Furbert was far less than robust in tackling the racist cancer that is apparently an insidious reality within that political organization.

Naturally, the views of one man can be refuted, as Mr. Furbert has attempted to do with respect to Mr. Simmons, largely by personalizing the issue. However, when two, relatively young, well placed, prominent black members are making essentially the same claim, then surely something is terribly wrong in the House that Jack built.

There are essentially two critical questions that must be raised at this point and they are questions that have been posed for well over three decades - although now we may be closer than ever before to definitively answering them.

UBP's black mask slips

Firstly, has the UBP been the diverse, bi-racial political organization its advocates have claimed, or has it in fact been a predominately white Bermudian political party that has worn an increasingly black face over the preceding years in order to preserve white privilege, at the expense of the island's black majority?

I have always found it more than a little strange, that a political party that can count on upwards of 95 per cent of white Bermudian voters to vote for it virtually en bloc during any general election (10 elections since 1968) and one in which black support probably does not exceed 10 per cent, can yet have 64 per cent of its sitting Members of Parliament (including Senate appointments), derived from Bermuda's black community.

Moreover, I have also found it more than a little strange, as I explored in an earlier column, that apparently the only so called 'swing voters' in Bermuda are black Bermudians.

Historically, why is it that white Bermudians - in the main - have consistently voted as an identifiable voting bloc to a degree never achieved in the black community? Admittedly, this is now changing with respect to black voting patterns and changing fast; a reaction, in part, to historical white resistance on this front.

It is illustrative here, that the same poll indicated that only approximately 1.8 per cent of white voters were prepared to vote for the Progressive Labour Party. This fact, in my view, represents an historical norm.

Undoubtedly, the paternalistic model which reflected the traditional white Bermudian expression of racism, which posed the white Bermudian patriarch as one who bestowed his blessing and qualified patronage on those blacks who were willing to participate in the charade, within the context of the UBP, is dying.

In fact, the United Bermuda Party was the ultimate expression of that model - a model that relied on the "black Face", as stated, to mask its underlying reality. The denunciations and resignations of Jamahl Simmons and David Dunkley powerfully symbolize that that era is, for all intents and purposes, over.

Rolfe Commisiong is a consultant to the Premier.