Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It Gave Unto Them Spines

It would seem that the PLP parliamentary group has at last found its voice... and its spine at last. In a thus far unprecedented move an overwhelming majority of PLP MP's spoke out against a key piece of their Leader's agenda, gambling.

I have a number of theories as to why this may have happened (or more specifically why it happened NOW). Here are a few:

  1. Dr. Brown is now a lame duck Premier on the way out so they aren't worried about upsetting him anymore.
  2. Paula Cox's leadership early in the debate gave backbench MP's the courage to speak their minds
  3. Gambling is an issue that arouses such strong opposition within the church community (traditionally a strong PLP support base) that the MP's are terrified of upsetting them by supporting it.
Theory 1 is the pessimist in me, it is what so many years of complete lack of backbench scrutiny of Dr. Brown has done to me. It seems to be a theory that is widely shared and it certainly isn't a good indication of the health of Bermudian democracy. With such a small parliament it is simply impossible for our system to function when the backbench is willing to stick their head in the sand and ignore the failures of their party leadership. This needs to change.

Theory 2 is a more moderate approach that also seems to be rather popular. Not much to say about it except that it seems clear that Paula Cox is set to become our next premier. Ms. Cog the Jellyfish hasn't had much in the way of backbone until now and its a worrying prospect that she won't have developed one in time for the serious changes that need to come under our next Premier if our Island is to continue to prosper. Better late then never though I suppose but, then again her backbone may well have only materialized due to theory 1. In which case it is no backbone at all.

Theory 3 is the hope that this incident is actually democracy in action. Whether or not you agree with the church lobby you can't deny that they represent the views of a large portion of Bermudian society and if this was really a reaction to their opposition then it just goes to show that the MP's actually listened. That would be a very positive sign and would suggest that the onus is on us to keep our politicians working for us. I have argued in the past that our system is what we made/continue to make it. If only every issue got people as interested and active as gambling did. Then we'd have the healthy, thriving democracy that we all want. But.. there I go with the wishful thinking again.

In the end I think it comes down to a mixture of all three. A little bit of positive in there, a little bit of negative, a little bit of "Yawn, Bermuda really is another world". It will be interesting to see where this new phase of politics in Bermuda will take us, if it even lasts beyond October that is.

Wishful Thinking

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