Premier Paula Cox *File photo
Premier Paula Cox *File photo

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1: The PLP will rely on its core strength of connecting with the community on the doorstep to carry it to a fourth successive general election victory.

It is widely predicted that Premier Paula Cox will go to the country before the end of the year.

The fledgling One Bermuda Alliance party says it will be ready with a full slate of 36 candidates whenever an election is called. And Chairman Mike Fahy said the party would attempt to hold the PLP to account for its record on crime, education and the economy. He believes it is a realistic goal for the month-old party to win the election.

But PLP insiders believe the emergence of the One Bermuda Alliance will not fundamentally alter the dynamics of a Bermuda general election.

The PLP expects to hold its majority in the House of Assembly despite concerns that the gang murder epidemic could cost the party votes in some key areas.

The economy is another potential problem area for the PLP but party activists believe people will accept that Bermuda’s problem is part of a wider global picture and will trust the PLP to protect Bermudian jobs.

A source told the Bermuda Sun that the election would be fought along familiar lines with the PLP championing its role as the party of the people and the One Bermuda Alliance viewed as the party of business.

“It’s a question of connecting with the people on the doorstep. The PLP does not have to fake its community connections.

“Everything the Opposition wants to do is connected with money and business. However many times they want to change their name it is still the Barritts, the Dunkleys and the Gibbons’s.

“How can you fight price rises in the supermarkets when you profit from those price rises? How can you complain about insurance costs for seniors when you own an insurance company?

“When push comes to shove, who do people think will look out for them? The PLP or the Oppostion?”

The PLP acknowledges that the continuing crime problem could be an electoral problem. But they believe people will recognize the efforts made in terms of legislative change, increased police powers and social programmes.

“During an election people pay much closer attention to what’s going on politically. They will see what we’ve tried to do and this myth that we have done nothing will sound hollow.

“Elections are fundamentally about the future. It won’t be enough for the opposition to simply criticize the Government they have to have a plan for the future and they simply don’t have one.”

Mr Fahy believes it would be a mistake for the PLP to assume they are fighting the same kind of opposition as in 2007.

He said the OBA would ensure it had the right candidates for the right constituencies. He accepted it would be an “uphill battle” to be ready to win an election this year.

And he believes the next few months, during which the party will attempt to recruit a slate of quality candidates, will be crucial to its chances.

He said: “With the right candidates the OBA will win the next election.

“There is an opportunity right now for anyone who feels they can make a difference to apply to be a candidate for the OBA. They can apply along with all sitting MPs to be a candidate.”

A central candidate selection committee will attempt to match up the best candidates with the right constituencies to ensure the OBA retains a community connection at a local level.

Mr Fahy said the OBA would ‘change the way politics is done’ in Bermuda.

“We have to move back to the issues and the issues are very simple. The economy is performing worse than ever before, our children are failing in the education system and gang violence is rampant. We are reaching a breaking point and if we leave it too late there will be nothing left to rebuild.”

The PLP is understood to be concerned about the potential impact of the apparently unstoppable tide of gang violence on voters.

Accountability

The issue of political accountability for the police is expected to be raised again with the party likely to argue that the violence on the streets is not, fundamentally, a legislative problem.

They will point to a series of anti-gang laws and social intervention policies as evidence that the Government is doing its part in what needs to be a wider community effort.

“Is crime something I think will be a negative against the party? No question,” a PLP insider told us.

“When people don’t feel secure that’s a problem.

“But when you look at the legislation and at the work of the former and current attorney generals and the National Security ministers, the idea that we haven’t done anything is going to sound hollow.”