Marc Bean.  *File photo
Marc Bean. *File photo

‘Empowerment through Economic Entrepreneurship and Employment through Education’ was the theme of the 2013 PLP conference at the weekend.

This is the party’s new vision, according to leader Marc Bean.

Since the December 2012 general election defeat, the PLP has focused on rebuilding and modernizing.

In this — its 50th — year, it is embarking on pushing entrepreneurship and education among Bermudians as a means of self-determination and empowerment.

Mr Bean said the conference theme “represents the vision of the party going forward under my leadership”.

He first outlined the goal of “economic empowerment under our philosophy of ‘doing for self’” after the December election.

Mr Bean told the Bermuda Sun prior to the conference: “It’s a new philosophy but it still represents the aims and objectives of our founders and the PLP constitution. We know economic entrepreneurship is one of the missing links in bringing a harmonious society in Bermuda. It’s also tied to being more productive and employable, and so there’s an emphasis on helping people to help themselves.

“Traditionally, we’ve seen Government as the catalyst for change or assistance, in order for people to raise their standard of living. This is a different approach. The power is given to the people directly, not through politicians.

“It’s the acknowledgment that Bermudians have the intellectual capability, the drive and energy to raise their standards of living and to progress through life, and to have that then passed on to the next generation.”

He said that over the years, successive governments have created “a high degree of paternalism and dependency”.

But Bermudians needed to “focus more on becoming more competitive as a people… and not be reliant and dependent on Government to do for the people what they have the power to do within themselves”.

“It’s a shift from a culture of complaint to one of competitiveness,” he said.

Education was “essential” in achieving this, he said.

“With successive governments, we still haven’t realized the importance of education. A good education is supposed to be able to cultivate the ability of individuals to help themselves, to think rationally and to pick up skill sets to enhance their natural talents.

“Many of our young people have talents but these talents are not being harnessed. Without any direction to one’s life’s purpose, one becomes a rudderless ship.

“Education inspires people to achieve great things for themselves and for others. It is tied in to where we want to see Bermuda in the next 10 to 20 years.

“It’s allowing the people of our country to fully participate in our economy; and to be competitive.”

At the weekend  conference, chairman Maynard Dill encouraged members to “have their say on the direction of their party”.

Mr Bean said: “We do welcome new ideas, but that’s balanced with the wisdom of our elders and those who have worked in the PLP diligently over the years.

“Moving forward, we’re not discarding what we have but enhancing it with new ideas. But we will never move away from our ethos of a being grassroots party.”