WEDNESDAY, MAY 25: The UBP has finally — almost — died. A new party, the OBA, has arisen. With that, many Bermudians will dip part of their big toe into the waters of the future.

I think that Bermudians will only toe dip because of the strong attachment to the past that both sets of voters — traditional UBP and traditional PLP voters — still have.

Bermudians’ strong emotional links with their past will remain unbroken until there is good reason to break those links.

On this day in May 2011, and especially for traditional PLP supporters, that reason does not yet exist. But the reason is stalking towards them.

Hardships

It is stalking in the form of economic events that will cause personal economic hardships that will affect all Bermudians, from blue-dyed old UBP’ers to green-dyed new PLP’ers.

Once those economic impacts bite and the personal and family pain gets even higher than now, Bermudians — all Bermudians — will start looking far more honestly at past and present events, at past and present leaders, at past and present leadership.

Some of the consequences of the huge economic errors, misjudgments, and financial mishandling of the PLP period of 2004 — 2008 are just now beginning to be felt.

This financial year’s promised $90 million cutback is turning out to carry many undesirable and immediate effects.

But, the stark reality is that the promised $90 million cutback was far too little, and came far too late.

From 2004 — 2008, Bermuda’s problem was overspending in an expanding economy.

From 2009 onwards, Bermuda’s problem reversed.

The new problem was too little revenue resulting from a shrinking economy, too high a Debt Service Cost, and an irrational continuance of overspending.

 Shrinking

Although no one in this PLP Government is talking about it, the fact is that the $1,250 million National Debt ceiling must soon be raised in order to accommodate the Government’s present need to borrow at least another $350 million to cover the large bank overdrafts and actual overspends of the three financial years 2009/10, 2010/11 and now 2011/12.

Again, although no one is talking about it, the Government is facing the reality that what they’ve taken to calling the ‘Great Global Recession’ has joined up with ongoing changes within Bermuda as International Business continues into its fifth year of shrinking its footprint.

The only thing that really matters is IB’s footprint — the actual physical presence in Bermuda — of Insurance, Trust, Accounting and Legal Services that do global business in and from Bermuda.

As IB’s footprint shrinks — and it is still shrinking — Government revenue falls.

The connection between IB footprint and Government revenue is absolute.

It does not change for any minister or Cabinet or political party.

Tourism’s national income, in 2010 a mere $384 million, is anaemically low.

Like a ripe grape shrunken into a raisin, that’s how much Bermuda’s tourism has shrivelled up — and there is no sign of any Carl Bazarian-led revival.

IB’s footprint stopped growing in 2007. Consequentially, the national economy and job creation began shrinking.

Overall, new job creation has ground to a halt.

Non creation and job losses will go on happening through this summer and fall.

The result is a labour churning as Bermudians are shoved from one job to another, with some Bermudians falling into temporary unemployment.

What is also happening with this job shoving is that Bermudian incomes are undergoing a general decline — a decline now in its fourth year.

Honesty

Declining incomes create greater individual and family stresses.

With that stress comes louder and more strident demands for answers to two questions.

“What happened? Why did it happen?”

Matters like the strange decision to increase Civil Service pay, freeze BIU pay, leave Parliamentary group pay untouched, and the pulling back of once-free Government services will not go away.

Instead, like pre-storm waves on the South Shore, each time the issues are re-raised, the pain levels will have reached a little higher; and there will be a greater demand for more honesty.

By February 2012, pain levels will be far higher than now.

In February 2012 the next Budget — which has to contain even deeper and more real reductions in actual Government spending — must be presented.

By February 2012, it will be far more obvious to everybody, that today’s pain and tomorrow’s hardships are a consequence of specific past actions.

However, now and leading up to February 2012, in Bermuda’s typical May sunshine, there is this false spring and summer lull when many people are still holding on to the past.

And they will not do anything more than tentatively dip one toe into the future, or go on ignoring the world immediately around them.

An early summer or autumn election will likely see another PLP win against a too new and still forming-up OBA.

The better-organized PLP could easily win as many as 30 of the 36 seats.

Implosion

Post-election, with Bermuda’s economy continuing to shrink and with the consequences of the 2004 — 2011 wrong economic moves still steadily building and causing deeper individual and family pain; voters across the island will be in a far different mood than now.

Post-election, driven by their individual and family hardships, the electorate will become more demanding, less forgiving, and will likely be bloody-minded and angry enough to break completely from Bermuda’s past and stride into the future with a brand new party.

Any new party.

Election before December 2011? I see a likely clear PLP win.

However, after that election a re-elected PLP government will find itself still collecting taxes, still cutting spending, and still governing in Bermuda’s still shrinking economy.

But it will be governing and dealing with a hurting and increasingly angry population.

As a consequence, I see a post-election political implosion of the kind that has happened, under the same generic conditions, in so many other countries all over the democratic world.

Unaccustomed to hard knocks, knowing only an unbroken ninety years of prosperity, Bermudians will not change governing political parties again until after Bermudians have bled.

Bermuda’s bleeding time is closer but still ahead and still stalking.

Editor's note: There was an error in the original printed version of this column. "Election before December 2012?" has been corrected to "Election before December 2011?".